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Early Childhood Interactive Activities for Parents and Teachers

By Keren Perles

Are the kids in your early childhood classroom itching for some hands-on, interactive play? These early childhood interactive activities may be the perfect solution.

Playdough Activities

Using interactive activities with preschool children can help them to gain skills and have fun while learning. Some of the best early childhood interactive activities involve simple materials or no materials at all. For example, even young children can enjoy playing with playdough, especially edible playdough. Just teach them how to roll it between their hands to make a snake, and then let younger children make the snakes into a circle, slightly older children press the snake onto a large letter of the alphabet or a number, and even older children braid several snakes together with some help. Older kids in early childhood classes can also learn to roll the dough into balls to make snowmen or caterpillars, and they can add details to each of these using their fingernails or the back end of a paintbrush.

Other interactive playdough activities include making prints from different toys and then matching the toys to their prints. (You can do this during a dinosaur unit when talking about fossils). Alternatively, you can make prints out of obvious objects, such as a coin, a key, or a small action figure and then ask the kids to figure out what made the print. You can even flatten out a large piece of playdough and let the kids drive cars on it to make tracks, or "streets." They can then use other pieces of playdough to make houses, trees, and other objects around the streets.

Animal Activities

Animal activities are also interactive, and they build on children's inborn interests. One fun game entails calling out the name of an animal, and having kids act as if they are that animal. Kids in an early childhood classroom will enjoy hissing and slithering like snakes, hopping and twitching their noses like a rabbit, and hooting and flapping their wings like an owl. You can also let kids act as zookeepers by setting up a play "zoo" with their stuffed animals. Kids will enjoy caring for their charges by feeding them, giving them pretend baths, and keeping the dangerous ones (lions) away from the others.

Dancing Activities

Music and movement is an important part of the early childhood classroom, and dancing is a favorite activity in many toddler and preschool classes. You can teach kids to dance fast to fast music and then slowly to slow music, and you can use dancing as a transition activity (e.g., "Snack is over, kids. Let's race back to the classroom to dance to some music for few minutes before circle time!") Another fun dance activity entails taping letters, numbers, or colored circles to the floor and having the children take turns dancing from one to another while singing a song (such as the alphabet song). This activity can help with letter, number, and color recognition.

Sorting Activities

Sorting helps kids in an early childhood classroom learn how to differentiate between various objects and lays the groundwork for math and other subjects. Cut out plenty of clear objects from magazines and let kids work together to sort the clippings in different ways. For example, they might start by collecting a pile of red pictures, and then sort all of the rest of the pictures by color. They can then mix the clippings back up and try to make a pile of animal pictures, a pile of clothing pictures, a pile of food pictures, and a pile of vehicle pictures. Kids can also categorize toys or craft supplies in a similar way, using buckets or large boxes to sort the different categories.

These early childhood interactive activities focus on the skills that preschoolers are just beginning to master, such as sorting, gross motor skills, and fine motor skills. They will help grow children's minds, and the kids will have a lot of fun, too!