Lunchtime with your preschooler is an ideal time to serve up some learning along with their meal. Fun games and activities will help the child learn in a casual, no-pressure atmosphere. Start with the basics: counting, singing the alphabet, and identifying colors - then add more fun with easy games that will sharpen their skills!
- Serve a whole sandwich, then cut it in half while explaning to the child that two halves equal one whole. Cut the halves again. Show the child that there are now four pieces that make a whole, so each piece is 1/4. You can demonstrate this easy concept every time you slice an apple or other food - and your preschooler is learning about fractions!
- Practice counting. How many forks do you see? Have the child count the number of green items in the room - it will be exciting for them to discover colors in unexpected places, like the green in mom's salad!
- Put a small amount of two different types of dry pasta or cereal on the table and have them sort it by type - then have them count the number of pieces of each. They'll learn sizes and shapes, have fun counting and be improving their small motor skills along with practicing counting. Ready for higher numbers to count? Add more pasta!
- Give them a deck of cards (minus face cards) and ask them to find all of the hearts. Next, let them sort by black and red cards, and help them learn to recognize the numbers. Ask them to find the red five, and show them how easy it is to count the number of hearts on the card to identify the correct one. Write the number down for them, and let them copy it.
Letters and spelling
- How many things on the table start with the letter P? Plates, pepper, potato, pasta! Sound out the letter to help them along. It's fun to choose a letter, write it down and tape it to your shirt. Now let them write their letter on several post-its and after lunch they can tag any items in the room that start with that letter. It's especially fun if you start them off with the first letter of their own name. Most kids won't tag themselves without a little hint! When they do, show them how to write their name. And show them how to spell "mom" and ask them to write it. Preschoolers love finding out that "mom" and "dad" are the same forward and backwards!
- Play Bingo. They'll learn to recognize letters and numbers while marking their card with pieces of cereal, nuts, or gumdrops. Printable Bingo cards are available online.
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