Between the ages of 3 and 4, children begin hitting physical, emotional, social and cognitive milestones in rapid succession, explains the American Academy of Pediatrics HealthyChildren.org website. You want to be there for your child as she progresses through those milestones, and play can be an ideal way to engage and educate her at the same time. Keep your youngster happily busy with activities and games designed to stimulate, educate and entertain in a variety of daily situations.
Youngsters in the 3- to 4-year age range often enjoy listening to and singing repetitive songs and rhymes. Singing activities with repetitive songs provides opportunities for singing experience, which allows kids to build singing and music skills, according to a document published by Pearson Higher Education. Musical development goes hand-in-hand with critical thinking skills. Play “The Farmer in the Dell” with a group of children by having the youngsters stand in a circle holding hands with one child in the center. Sing the first verse of the song: “The farmer in the dell, the farmer in the dell, hi-ho the derry-o, the farmer in the dell.” Progress through subsequent verses, including the farmer taking a wife, the wife taking a child, the child taking a dog, the dog taking the cat and the cat taking the mouse. With each verse, the child in the center chooses another child to replace him until the last verse when the mouse ends the game in the center.
Building Memory Skills
Play a memory game with pairs of cards. You can make your own deck of card pairs by placing an identical sticker on two index cards. Ready-made memory games are also available for purchase, often featuring characters popular with the preschool set. An enjoyable listening and remembering game involves an ongoing story that everyone tells together, adding alphabetical items to a list. You might start the game with, “We are going to Grandma’s house and we will bring apples.” Each person must take a turn reciting the entire list and adding items in alphabetical order. Using the same example, the next player might add “buttons” to the list by saying, "We are going to Grandma's house and we will bring apples and buttons."
Fantasy and imaginative play becomes high on a preschooler’s list. Not only do kids delight in pretending, but it also builds communication skills and cognitive development. Pretend play also encourages socialization with peers, states cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman, writing for Psychology Today. Perhaps your youngster would enjoy wearing a superhero costume while playing a game of freeze tag with other kids. Provide puppet characters and encourage your kids to put on a puppet show to act out the story from a favorite storybook, suggests the Scholastic website. Pitch a tent in the living room by throwing a blanket over a table and create a camping out game with sleeping bags, pillows and singing around a pretend campfire. Set up a pretend grocery store or library and let your kids enjoy recreating these pretend venues.
Youngsters benefit from physical activity because it provides important exercise. Physical activity also enables them to increase the strength and coordination necessary for developing gross motor skills such as throwing and bouncing a ball, hopping and skipping, states the Lancaster General Wellness Center. Set up an obstacle course for your little ones, featuring a variety of objects to move under, over, around and through, suggests the Lancaster General Wellness Center. Some possible ideas include large boxes to crawl through, a rope to jump over, a table to crawl under and a step stool to climb over. Kids might also enjoy the opportunity to play a variation of Simon Says with one child demonstrating animal noises or movements and the other youngsters imitating the noises and movements.
Play board games with your preschooler for quiet entertainment. Board games have value because they teach basic skills such as patience, taking turns and counting in sequence. Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land are ideal for preschoolers because reading is not necessary to reap the benefits of these games. A game of "Go Fish" might be enjoyable for your 3- or 4-year-old youngster as well as serve as an introductory game for learning numbers and card suits.
- HealthyChildren.org: Developmental Milestones: 3 to 4 Year Olds
- Pearson Higher Education: Young Children and Music: The Prekindergarten Years
- Psychology Today: The Need for Pretend Play in Child Development
- Oxford Owl: Fun ideas: age 3-4
- Scholastic: Ages & Stages: Imagine & Pretend
- Lancaster General Wellness Center: Physical Activity for Your Child: Ages 3, 4, & 5 Years