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Playground Activities for Preschoolers

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

The playground is a great place for preschool children to learn through play while developing gross motor skills. These activities are designed to do both and can be modified to fit the specific needs of your students.

Preschool Playground Activities

Preschoolers learn through play, and the playground can be a great classroom! These activities not only help develop gross motor skills, but also listening skills, following directions, and identifying shapes, numbers, letters, and colors.

You can adapt these activities to fit the needs of your students, and the materials needed are inexpensive and easy to find.

Big Balloon Bounce

Materials Needed:

  • balloons (one inflated balloon per pair/group and a few extra in case they pop during the game)

How to Play:

Pair your students up and have them stand face to face. There should be enough space between them so that only their fingertips touch when they put their arms in front of them. If you have an odd number of students, you may have a group with 3 children.

Give each pair/group an inflated balloon and explain that the object of the game is to keep the balloon off the ground. First, they will have to use their hands to bounce it high up in the air to get it to their partner.

After they have done that several times, tell them that they can't use their hands anymore, but have to use only their head to bounce it to their partner, like a soccer player.

After several bounces with their head, tell them they can only use their elbow to bounce it to their partner, like a chicken wing.

Next, tell them that they can only use the back of their hand to bounce it to their partner.

You may end the game at this point or make it more challenging. Tell your students that you will call out different body parts each time the balloon is in the air. They can only use the body part you call out to get the balloon back to their partner.

Freeze Flag

Materials Needed:

  • Two crepe paper strips for each student (each about 36 inches long)
  • Cell phone with an app that plays children's music or portable CD player with a children's music CD

How to Play:

Explain to your students that they will hold a crepe paper strip in each hand. You will call out an animal or insect and they will use the paper strips to move like that animal/insect as long as the music is playing.

As soon as the music stops, the students have to freeze and listen for the next animal.

When students are ready, call out horse. Let the music play for a bit before stopping it. Encourage the children to run and move like a horse. Stop the music and remind students that they have to freeze when the music stops.

Then call out the next animal. Suggestions for animals include elephants, giraffes, frogs, fish, lions, bees, and butterflies. If you are studying an animal or insect in class, you may want to include it in this activity as well.

Buzzing Bee, Buzzing Bee, What Do You See?

Materials Needed:

  • Sidewalk chalk in different colors

How to Play:

This will take a little preparation before taking your students outside. Find a paved part of the playground and draw large shapes including triangles, squares, circles, rectangles, etc. in multiple colors of your choosing. Scatter them around the pavement with plenty of space between shapes.

As an example, you may want to draw 3 blue triangles, 3 yellow triangles and 3 orange triangles, repeating this process for each shape so that you don't have all the children standing by only one yellow triangle.

Bring your students out to the playground and show them all the different colored shapes that you drew. Then explain that you are the queen bee and they are the buzzing bumble bees. They must listen to the shape and color you call out, skip to it, and stand by it.

Start the game by saying, ''Buzzing bee, buzzing bee, what do you see? I see a yellow triangle waiting for me!'' Students should skip to a yellow triangle and stand by it.

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