Easy Ways to Incorporate Things We Do at Daycare At Home

Mimicking daycare activities gives kids a sense of familiarity which sets them up for success, and the activities we’re highlighting today offer play-based fun that little ones love.

Wondering what to do at home to keep your little ones learning when they’re not at daycare? Mimicking daycare activities gives kids a sense of familiarity which sets them up for success, and the activities we’re highlighting today offer play-based fun that little ones love. If you’ve got a toddler or a preschool-age kiddo, they’ll love playing in the following ways.

Sensory Bins

If you’ve never given your little one a container of rice and some various kitchen tools (spoons, measuring scoops, etc.), prepare to be amazed! From toddlers all the way to preschool age, children absolutely love sensory bins and can play with them for hours (yes, really!). The reason that open-ended sensory bin play is so powerful is that it does what it sounds like and activates many senses — touching, seeing, hearing…and sometimes even smelling and tasting! Sensory bins allow children endless creative play, which is so helpful for their brain’s development (which is a huge reason we love them so much at daycare). “When the materials inside sensory bins are offered to children without an expectation of a finished product, children use their imaginations and creativity to make sense of the materials in their own way. This experience is often referred to as open-ended exploration.” (Vanessa Levin)

To make a sensory bin, all you need is a durable plastic container (a bowl or a long rectangular bin), something to go inside (rice, lentils, uncooked macaroni, sand, beans, beads, etc.), and some fun tools like measuring scoops, magnifying glasses, small cups, tweezers, or whatever else you think those little hands would love! Here’s a great starter list to help you.

Imaginative Play

A favorite at daycare, imaginative play ignites children’s imaginations and lets them pretend to be whatever they can dream up! In imaginative play, kids are role-playing and thus, this offers a great opportunity for teachable moments about relationships and everyday interactions. This encourages not just social and emotional development for toddlers and preschoolers alike, but it also activates thinking skills and helps with language development. Some ideas for imaginative play include: play food/kitchen toys, costumes/masks, pillow/blanket forts, hand/finger puppets, play-doh, and even a simple box!

Art

You don’t have to be “good at art” to encourage artistic play for your little one outside of daycare, and we know it’s not realistic to set up crafting activities all the time (even though those, of course, are really fun and cute). One of the easiest ways to encourage imaginative, open-ended play outside of daycare or preschool is to give kids blank slates and art tools and let them work. This can be sidewalk chalk on the sidewalk, or construction paper and (washable) markers. If you have the time, you can always find fun, easy DIY art activities for toddlers and preschool-age kids on Pinterest. But if not, just keep some basic art supplies handy and allow your child’s imagination to take the lead. Note: supplies like scissors and glue probably require more parental supervision until your child is out of preschool.

What other ways do you replicate daycare and preschool activities at home? We’d love for you to share with us in the comments!