Preschoolers will love learning their letters while digging for treasure
St. Patrick's Day is around the corner, so use the holiday as an excuse to breathe some life into your home learning activities. My son, who just turned 4, and I tried out a few Irish-inspired activities, and they were a hit (in fact, he is still playing one of the games with Daddy as I type this). The nice thing about creating learning activities at home is that you can tailor the content to fit your child. So feel free to adapt my list as needed. No matter how you tweak them, you'll feel "lucky" to spend some quality time with your little one. Let's get started!
Digging for gold
Sensory activities are great for preschoolers because they love feeling different textures. You can make your own sensory bin at home, but before you start the games, you need to color your rice.
Step 1: Coloring the rice
My son and I went to the dollar store and purchased three bags of dry white rice and a small bin for a grand total of $4 and some change. I already had green food coloring, white vinegar and resealable, gallon-sized, sandwich bags, so we were ready to start. I placed 1 tablespoon of white vinegar for each cup of rice in the sandwich bag. We colored 4 cups at a time in our bag to make 12 cups total. I dropped in green food coloring until the color was a bright green. Then I added the rice and sealed the bag. Here's the first step kids love: squishing and moving the rice around in the bag until every grain is green. After a few minutes of squishing, I dumped out the rice on parchment paper and spread it out a bit to dry. Drying time took about an hour, but we synced it up with my son's nap time, so he slept while our rice dried, and he woke up ready to play. I dumped the rice into our bin, and we were ready to go. I chose a bin with a secure lid so I could snap it on after we were done playing and safely tuck it away in our closet until next time.
Step 2: Sifting for treasure
My son went through a major pirate phase, so I have no shortage of gold coins in our house. I grabbed 20 gold coins and tucked them inside the rice bin and told him to sift for Leprechaun gold. He would've been content to just sift and find coins, but I wanted to up the educational factor so I decided to focus on numbers. I wrote numbers 1 through 20 on small pieces of paper, folded them and placed them in a bowl. He drew a number and then had to find the number of gold coins. After a few rounds, we decided to switch to addition. I placed the pieces of paper with numbers 1 through 10 in the bowl. He chose two numbers, found the coins, counted them and found the matching number. If your little one is working on colors or shapes, you could send him or her on a sifting adventure to find the red circle or the blue stick.
My son is learning lowercase letters and letter sounds, so I decided to incorporate them into a scavenger hunt. I picked up a packet of 12 pre-cut, foam shamrocks at the dollar store and wrote one letter on each of them. I included the letters he struggles with, like d, p, b and q. I gave my son a shamrock with a letter. He identified the letter, said what sound it makes and then hunted through the house to find something that starts with that sound. My son had a lot of fun, and I noticed that his letter recognition got better every time.
You can tweak the game to fit your child's needs. If your child is working on letter recognition, tape the shamrocks on the wall and have him point to the letter you call out. Get Daddy or a sibling involved to turn it into a race. If your little one is working on spelling, hide the letters around the house and ask him to find the letters that spell an item, like c-a-r.