Learning Activities and Games for 3-5-Year-Olds

In this post, I am sharing our update with activities and games for ages 3-5 years old and for children who are in the lower elementary age group. Our Montessori-friendly homeschool evolves and changes all the time. And it is only natural. Children, our circumstances and priorities evolve, transform, and adapt based on many factors.

One thing that never changes is our perspective and goal – to nurture a healthy, balanced, safe, engaging environment that calls to children’s intrinsic motivation of discovering the world through their senses.

By now I’ve gathered snippets of our daily homeschool morning activities following my two youngest children who fall under the 3-6 age range. I am describing learning that is defined by a homeschool setting, not strictly arranged around a set age group as it is done at school.

You won’t find many photos of my oldest daughter because she is very much well adjusted to working independently by now. She is considered upper elementary and I don’t stalk her with my camera during our homeschool morning activity cycle as I used to.

Animals and their homes montessori nature sort matching free printables sign up

The best part about our homeschool activity cycle is that we use curricula to fit the children’s learning process not all the way around. Our homeschool routine commences as soon as children wake up. Once they completed the morning part of the day which includes self-care, breakfast, house duties, and exercise, children gradually transition to doing their morning work.

Fine Motor, Art, and Practical Life Activities

I will start by describing fine motor activities. Natural loose parts are fantastic tools for working on the sand. Children are free to create patterns, pictures, and prints – activities that foster creativity and prepare them for writing.

Finally, the poppers came in handy. The children were exploring colors. Here the child was squirting yellow water into a blue popper tray. As a result, she observed that the water slightly turned green.

Rainbow colors are such a happy theme for children to explore. I have noticed that transferring activities engage children and boost their concentration abilities in a major way.

Tracing allows children to practice drawing continuous lines and encourage establishing the habit to follow the correct direction of writing in the English language – from left to right. This printable is a part of the Compassion and Peace printable.

The cutting and coloring strips featured here are included in my Spring pack.

Seeing little fingers at work makes my heart sing. Simple jewelry-making activities with beads and, in this case, pipe cleaners foster a sense of beauty, encourage children to practice counting, and allow children to imagine different patterns they can create in the process.

Dressing frames foster perseverance in a child’s character. Often it takes a couple of goes for a child to completely master them as they need to follow specific steps to tie ribbons or laces into a bow.

This is another example of a prewriting activity. This worksheet is a part of my Busy Book for preschool children.

When children are calm and our work cycle flows, I invite the youngest to work on push pinning as I know I won’t be distracted when supervising her work. This printable is included in the North America Preschool Pack.

This butterfly painting activity presents so many fun learning opportunities as children learn to identify different species of butterflies, enjoy painting experiences, and learn about symmetry and symmetrical forms.

This was done by the upper elementary child

Whenever we get an opportunity, we take advantage of gallery and museum exhibitions. After the visit for the next couple of days, we draw our homeschool study inspiration from there. It helps the children to process and internalize what they’ve experienced during their excursions.

I used laminated sheets of Van Gogh painting replicas to inspire children to create their own and then I make a puzzle for the youngest to assemble. In case you are looking for activities that involve famous European artists, you may like to check out my Famous Artists printable.

van gogh sunflowers

You can download Free DIY Winter Puzzles from our Resource Library. These include coloring pages along with different puzzles you can use with your preschooler to enhance her concentration and problem-solving skills.

Often I find children follow their own agenda and they need very minimal involvement from me. The metal insets are always there to inspire children to learn the properties of 2D shapes, trace, create designs, color, and draw lines.

We emphasize in our home the importance of taking good care of our belongings for our own benefit and for the benefit of the planet and the environment. Here is one of the Practice Life lessons in action.

Language Activities

We don’t have many pictures on the walls. However, I found that having student helpers right above the desk is very helpful for children who are learning to read and write. It cuts the urgency to ask for help when he gets stuck sounding out or decoding words.

After using these cards to pair capital letters with lower case letters, the child decided that he wanted to copy them. This printable is included in the Sports Themed Unit.

This is another example of the child working on mastering capital letters. These puzzles can be found in one of my Spring Packs.

Whist the child is in the process of learning to read and write independently, we often work on building words and sounding them out. This time the child was learning to spell colors. I prepared index cards with the correct spelling for each word next to a group of letters included in the word. The child’s task was to identify colors, sound each word out, and self-check. You can find the moveable alphabet in our shop – click here for cursive and here for print.

My preschool children work with 3 part cards practically every day. We use them to learn new vocabulary, practice reading, create stories, make student booklets, and do copy work. This set is included in the Sports Pack I created with preschool children in mind.

Children love learning about rhymes as it helps them to discover a whole new world of poetry they can create all on their own. This printable set with picture cards that rhyme is a helpful preparation step for making up their own silly rhymes.

We used these picture cards from the Spring Pack to play a memory game and learn new garden vocabulary with my 3-year-old child.

My youngest child who is gaining phonological awareness enjoys working daily on identifying initial sounds. This is an example of a picture set included in my Phonics – Initial Sounds Printable.

Activities on Mathematics and Logical Thinking

In this post, I share activities that I present to my children who are 2 years apart. This activity was very engaging for my youngest. I gathered a couple of groups of items that had one odd object that did not belong to the group.

We love classic Montessori materials but children also enjoy wooden puzzles they can use to work independently. So many of them allow young children to self-teach many fun educational concepts.

These number cards are included in my Dinosaur Pack. I use them for teaching one-to-one correspondence, number recognition, matching numbers to quantities, and playing maths games, eg. “I spy with my little eye number that is one more/less than.. or greater/less than..”.

Sequencing cards with flowers fit the nature of a 3-year-old girl just perfectly. You can grab this free printable from our Resource Library here.

Example of greater than.. less than exercise with color beads – extension to activities from the Shiller Math curriculum.

This set of plastic geometric solids also belongs to the Shiller Math curriculum set. The matching cards with 3D shapes are included in the Sports Pack for preschoolers.

Here is what we did to extend this activity as the children were exploring shape properties and specifications.

Children also enjoyed observing the colors of shadows and the colorful shapes dropped on the concrete in the sun.

Colored sand is always a hit with my young children when it comes to learning to write letters and numbers.

Once all 0-10 numerals have been mastered, it’s time to have some fun with number rods.

This printable with spring-themed clip cards is included in the Montessori-inspired Spring Pack.

This is another example of Spring Pack activities that was a lovely addition to our Color Unit.

As preparation for learning the multiplication table, we started to practice skip counting. This student helper came in very handy. You can download a copy from our Resource Library for free!

This is another freebie with sum facts you can use with color beads in your classroom I have available in the Resource Library.

Many preschool math books come with wonderful activities on logical thinking we often incorporate into our morning cycle.

Geography and History Activities

When we explore continents, young children enjoy tracing the continent’s outline. We take turns drawing outlines from memory for each other to guess what they are or children compare sizes after tracing them next to each other. You can find my continent printables here.

Animals of Continents Safari TOOB Sorting Cards Montessori Nature Printable Freebie

We had this activity with animals of the world living on our shelves for at least 2-3 weeks. The child took so much interest in sorting, identifying, and drawing animals. You can download this freebie from the Resource Library for your classroom too!

In my experience, geography is best received when it is taught through hands-on exercises. This activity was a part of the Africa Study when the child was exploring various biomes found on the continent. This printable is a part of the Africa Printable.

When learning about Africa, we encompass holistic learning by making connections that tie continents, history, and biodiversity of the world together. With this printable, we were looking at grassland biomes all around the world, I encouraged the child to observe the pictures and distinguish similarities and differences between them asking questions. He came up with his own ideas on why the flora and fauna of the regions were alike and what made them appear different from each other. This activity is more suitable for children in the lower elementary age group.

This is an example of a child-led activity that I wholeheartedly encourage. During the Africa study, the child expressed interest to learn more about Ancient Egypt.

Children use different techniques to process the information they learn. Here he used building blocks to create a storyline describing the life of Egyptian people at the time and the way he interpreted it.

General Science Activities

Since children find the animal world infinitely fascinating from a very early on, the mention of all kinds of animals is constantly ever-present throughout our homeschool studies. This activity is a part of the Vertebrates vs. Invertebrates printable that can be found here.

Children are great at finding and focusing on the tiniest details when it comes to learning about the natural world. This particular activity with matching fragments of butterfly wing patterns to the butterflies they belong to was revisited over and over again. Soon it turned into a memory game which was a wonderful way to keep her focus engaged for an extended period of time.

Even though the spring season is not very well defined where we live, the children still enjoy working with sorting activities when it comes to nature and its inhabitants. This sorting activity is a part of the Spring Pack.

I didn’t manage to snap a good shot but I thought it is worth mentioning here how much sensory play benefits young children. This is particularly an effective strategy to engage children who are reluctant to start their morning work cycle routine.

In the middle of our hot spring, this simple water freezing experiment and color exploration exercise was welcomed with cheer.

It was followed by the Walking watercolor mixing experiment. To conduct this experiment, we poured water into two glasses (blue and yellow colors) and left the middle glass empty. We placed paper towels inside the glasses so they met in the middle. We left the water to make its way up to the middle glass and turn green. As with every experiment, children are encouraged to record their discoveries.

I find that the conversations about space and the solar system never phase out when it comes to these early years. Children love to observe the moon, and night sky and ask millions of questions. Hence space printables are always on-demand here.

Home sometimes is just not enough when it comes to satisfying curious minds. The local science museum is our beloved place to spend the morning, especially during a school term when we often get the whole place to ourselves.

resources you might find helpful in your classroom

About Anastasia - Anastasia is an early childhood teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature - a blog about Montessori living and learning and nature-based explorations. With many years of experience working in a Montessori environment and homeschooling her children, she directed her passion for all things Montessori and nature into creating educational resources. You can learn more here and browse her printables on Teachers Pay Teachers.

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