Make your own educational printables

May 18, 2011 at 12:04 p.m. ET

Keeping a preschooler occupied is difficult. Her short attention span means you need an arsenal of activities at your disposal. Try making your own educational printables to keep your child busy and help her learn at the same time.

Little girl working on printable

Falling into a rut with your preschooler is so easy. Every day starts to look the same: Breakfast, TV, color, play kitchen, lunch, nap, TV. Shake things up by making your own educational printables. You'll find many websites -- such as the ColoringBookFunPrintables Center at Family Education and even here at SheKnows -- that offer free printables that you can modify to fit your preschooler perfectly.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing which are best for your child:


Look for printables geared toward your child's age. Many websites list printables by age, so zeroing in on what you need shouldn't be hard. Review the printable before you print it to make sure it's on your child's level.

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2Seasonal appropriateness

Search for printables that match the current season to help your preschooler get a better understanding of the holiday or time of year. Holiday-themed coloring pages and word searches are easy to find.


If the pages can be altered, change them to fit your child's life. Change the main character's name to that of your child or the pet's name to that of your pet. Many websites let you make word searches and crossword puzzles yourself! Try Discovery Education's Puzzlemaker or the wordsearch maker at Use words and questions that have to do with your child's life and interests.

4Alernate uses

You don't have to use the printables for the instructions' stated purpose. Explore your creativity. For example, print out and cut up a coloring page to make your own puzzle.

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Keep as much variety as possible in your printables. Focus on math one day and reading the next. Let your child have a choice in what you will do. Print out several items ahead of time and present your child with two or three options before you begin. Go with whatever he chooses. This will make him feel more powerful and more likely to participate without a tantrum.

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more ideas

Use teachers' websites.

Many websites are dedicated to helping teachers create printables for their classrooms at little or no cost. Take advantage of these sites as you look for new ways to teach your preschooler.

Use characters.

Try to find printable games, crafts, worksheets and coloring pages that depict your child's favorite characters. This will help him get excited about the activity and may even increase the amount of information he absorbs. PBS and Crayola/Disney offers hundreds of free educational printables themed around their popular characters.

Try printing in color! It may boost your ink costs a bit, but it'll help your printables catch your preschooler's attention.

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