In this age of technology it is all to easy to allow our young children to rely on screens and gadgets to teach them. And while I do think that techy toys, tablets, learning apps, TV shows, etc have their place, they shouldn’t take the place of one on one learning and exploring with real items and real people.
So what should you do to help your toddler or preschooler learn in a screen-free way? Here are 13 learning activities that are 100% screen free!
13 Scree-Free Learning Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers!
Play with Dice
Dice are so much fun to play with- and they are so versatile when it comes to the ways you can learn with them. For toddlers you can use dice to teach one to one correspondence by counting out objects based on the number rolled.
They can be used to make patterns. You can even stack them for a great fine motor activity. We have a bucket of dice that gets played with almost daily by all the kids- not just the toddler!
You can also try one of these 10 Dice Games– some are not toddler-friendly, but as with most games and activities rules can be changed and altered to make it fun for all ages.
Shape Themed Sensory Bin
Try making a sensory bin centered all around one particular shape. It’s a great, hands-on, sensory way for your toddler to learn about all the shapes in his world. Check out my Square Sensory Bin to see an example of how to make your own.
And then check out these 9 Shape Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers– all of which are also screen free!
Color Themed Sensory Bin
Colors are important too! Just like the shape sensory bin, you can make color-themed sensory bins for your child to explore and learn with. Fill a bin with items all of one color and let them play and learn! Here’s the Yellow Sensory Bin I made for my 2 year old.
I’ve also got a list of screen free color activities for toddlers too!
Oil and Water Sensory Bag
This sensory bag is great for toddlers because, like all sensory bags, it’s mess free and they can explore it wherever they are. But this oil and water filling is great for letting young children learn about density and experimenting with the properties that prevent oil and water from mixing.
See how to make this sensory bag and get some tips on how to add in some learning to this fun activity.
Sidewalk chalk games
Sidewalk chalk can be used in so many screen-free learning activities! Such as:
- Writing and Pre-Writing Skills by just drawing and writing names
- Learning shapes by making creating large shapes for your kids to jump to and name
- Learn color through drawing
- Gross motor skills through games like hopscotch
- Taking turns and sportsmanship through tic tac toe
And that is just a couple ideas!
Play board games
Board games come in all shapes and size and there is so much learning that comes with them. And not only do they bring in life skills like taking turns and good sportsmanship- but they are great for connecting and spending time as a family together.
Games like Memory are great for working the brain and you can even make memory games to teach skills like the ABCs or animals or whatever!
Keep Calm and Mommy On has a great list of her favorite Board Games for Toddlers and Preschoolers.
Never discount the power of reading when it comes to teaching your kids. Reading opens up new worlds and new experiences. It teaches skills like:
And so many more.
Some of my favorites are the Mice Books by Ellen Stoll Walsh; just about anything by Jerry Pallota (especially his Alphabet books!), and The Magic Treehouse books- young toddlers may not be interested but by preschool age they can listen and can be read again and again until your kids are reading them on their own.
My kids have also been known to pour over field guides at a very young age!
Learning the ABCs is one of the milestones for young kids. Not just memorizing the song, but actually being able to recognize and identify all the letters of the alphabet.
And what better way to learn than by making fun letter crafts!
All you need is some paper, some craft supplies like markers and glue, and your imagination! Then you can make things like B is for Butterfly (with B shaped wings) or D is for Dinosaur (with a D shaped stegosaurus back!) Come up with an animal or word for each letter. Cut a large paper letter or 2 and let your child take the reigns on creating. And don’t forget lots of talking about the letter and it’s sound!
Dot Painting Activities
Dot Paints are great for toddlers and preschoolers because they are self contained and are so much less messy than traditional paints. They are also great for a ton of learning activities. Such as:
- Learning the letters. Like with these printable alphabet sheets made for dot paints. Or these Spot and Dot letter recognition sheets.
- Learning the shapes. These dotting shape outline printables are great!
- Learning about patterns. Use the paints to create a pattern for your kid to complete. Or use a printable like this one.
- Fine motor skills. Everything about dot paints are good for fine motor skills and control!
Learn with Stickers
Stickers are another great screen free way to learn. And, let’s face it, what kid doesn’t LOVE stickers! Stickers can be used similar to the dot paints, but here are some good learning activities you can do with stickers:
- Sorting. Different colored stickers can be sorted on to different colored sheets of paper
- Learning about patterns- just like with dot paints
- Learning about shapes and letters- use circle stickers on the dot painting printables
- Fine motor skills- stickers require a lot of fine motor skills. Peeling them off the backing, putting them in just the right location, etc
- Learning 1 to 1 correspondence by putting the correct number of stickers on a number
Take a Nature Walk
Science is one of those subjects that I think is best learned through life. Who needs printables and worksheets to learn about the world outside?
Take your child out for a nature walk- either in your own yard, at a local park, or even a zoo. All you really need to do is walk and talk about what you see and answer all of your child’s questions. But you could add in additional learning with these activities:
- Make a scavenger hunt
- Play I Spy
- Collect nature items for an at-home nature table
- Collect bugs, insects, or caterpillars to observe at home
- Interact with nature. ie. make leaf rubbings, prints with sunpaper, stack rocks, etc
Plant a Garden or Seed
Gardening is another way to teach kids about the world they live in and the foods they eat. My kids garden with me from a very young age and there is nothing as exciting as watching a see YOU planted sprout, flower, and turn into something amazing that you can pick and eat!
Tips for planting with kids
- Choose large seeds like cucumber, peas, squash, pumpkin, or sunflower
- Let them do the dirty work! Filling pots with soil and digging holes are so much fun!
- Let them care for their seedlings. Water them, weed them, picking off pests- all great learning jobs for kids!
- Encourage them to taste and include them in new recipes to try with their produce
Live in an apartment? Try cotnainer gardening or simply plant some plants in pots indoors for your kids to observe- herbs, marigolds, calendula are great indoor plants.
Do a Puzzle
Puzzles don’t get the recognition they deserve, but there is so much to learn with puzzles beyond the mental strength you need to finish it!
My very favorite puzzles for toddlers and preschooler are the giant floor puzzles and they come in so many themes! We love- and own a lot of- the Melissa & Doug brand puzzles. My favorites?
- The Human Body Puzzle (great for learning the parts of the body and the bones!)
- The USA Map Puzzle (geography!)
- Solar System Puzzle (learn the names of the planets in no time!)
- The Presidents of the USA puzzle (never to early to learn some history!)
We also have some fun ones like dinosaurs, safari animals, and pirates- but those still give a lot of learning for young kids!