Confession: As a kids’ pastor, preschool ministry has never been my strong suit. I’ve never quite mastered the art of keeping the attention of the littlest ones, and I’ve gladly handed it over to amazing volunteers.
Then, I became a parent.
And as of late, a parent staying at home with a nearly 3-year old and newborn during a worldwide pandemic.
And guess what?
There’s no saying “Sorry, entertaining preschoolers isn’t my strong suit” to a preschooler looking to be entertained.
So, for the past few weeks, I’ve been looking for ways to keep Levi (and me!) entertained, educated and growing in our faith in Jesus! For me, activities need to be simple (because I have a newborn at home), not too messy, and fun! Through a process of trial and error, we’ve found some really great activities (and not some so great ones, but we’ll skip those!).
So without further ado, here is a giant list of easy activities for YOU – my fellow parents of preschoolers – tried and tested by yours truly.
Tech & TV
We are big Paw Patrol fans in this house (and by we, I mean Levi is!), but we’ve been trying to change things up a little! Screen time is one of my favourite ways to incorporate some Bible teaching into our days too. Here are some of my favourites:
- Bible Adventures from LifeChurch: We love the Bible App for Kids, but these Bible Adventure videos take it to the next level! They are interactive, fun and have some great biblical teaching for this age group.
- The Beginners’ Bible Videos: These are a bit dated, but Levi loves them! They are animated in the same style as the Beginners’ Bible (which we have and love). There are also some great activity sheets to go along with them here!
- All Star Kids Club Go!: I’ve mentioned this app before, but it is great and deserves mentioning again. The free content here is awesome – from songs to stories.
- The Donut Man Tunes: I listened to the Donut Man when I was a kid, but his songs are great. We turn on his artist channel on Spotify, and let it play in the background. The songs are fun, some have simple actions you can make up, and the messages are great.
- 50 Kids Bible Stories: I stumbled on this album by accident, but it has become a staple in our home. If you’re like me, and sometimes get tired of the TV being on, but still want some background noise or entertainment, I recommend this album. It’s an audiobook with 50 short (2 minutes or less) Bible stories for kids! It’s very mellow and Levi even asks the “Google” to play these!
- KidSpring Preschool Worship: We use Kidspring curriculum in our midweek program, but even if you don’t, these songs are so fun! The videos are colourful, the actions are easy, and they are NOT annoying!
- Bible App for Kids: I know I talk about the Bible App for Kids all the time, but I can’t NOT mention it in a preschool post. It is so great. Levi loves pressing all the buttons in the story to see what they will do. There are also some great links on the website.
- Super Simple: Super Simple is one of our favourite YouTube channels. We love their short songs, but also their “Caitie’s Classroom” shows and longer videos. The website is also great for activity ideas!
- Sid the Science Kid on Netflix: We just started watching this show, and I really like it! It is educational, from Jim Henson, and bonus – Levi really likes it too.
- Veggie Tales in the City on Netflix: Full disclosure: I don’t like these episodes as much as the original Veggie Tales, BUT they are a nice change of pace from Paw Patrol. They are pretty loud, bright and exciting, so I don’t recommend for before bedtime, but they’re a nice option to add.
Again, I cannot stress enough how simple activities need to be to work here in our house! The inspiration for A LOT of these ideas comes from Busy Toddler – one of my favourite accounts to follow for preschool ideas. Be sure to check it out!
- Bean Sensory Bin: This is as easy as it sounds! Grab a couple bags of navy beans (or something similiar), toss them in ziploc bags with some food coloring, let them dry – and BAM! You have hours of preschool fun. Seriously. I gave Levi some measuring cups and scoops to play with, and it keeps him very entertained.
- Cloud Dough: Be warned – this is a little messy, but much easier to clean up than play dough! Mix flour or cornstarch and oil (any kind will work – I used olive oil because it’s what I had) for about 5 minutes with your hands. I made a small batch with 2 cups of flour and about 1/4 cup of olive oil. It made for a solid hour of independent play – win!
- Bubble Wrap Path: I saw this idea on Pinterest, and knew I had some bubble wrap. I taped it to the floor with painter’s tape, and let Levi march on it, race cars across it and just do whatever he wanted. It worked out great!
- Lego Bath: I cannot tell you how thankful I am to have found this idea a few months back on Busy Toddler. It’s simple – throw some duplo blocks into the tub with your kid. Levi LOVES this, and now pretty well every bath is a lego bath.
- Sidewalk Chalk: I’m not 100% sure if this qualifies as sensory play, but it is really fun! Levi’s sidewalk chalk drawings are pretty much just scribbles right now, but it’s still fun.
We have a very basic craft bin in our house, but here are some ideas that have worked well for us.
- Dot Markers: I bought Bingo Dabbers at our local dollar store for less than $2 each in different colors. I’ve cut shapes, animals, and letters out of construction paper and let Levi go crazy “dotting” them. It’s a craft he can actually do on his own!
- Pom-Pom Painting: Another great Pinterest idea! Grab some big pom poms (I’m thinking cotton balls could work too), stick them on clothespins or toothpicks, and put some paint on a plate! Use the pom poms to paint a shape or whatever your heart desires (we cut out Easter eggs to paint with this method).
- Finger Painting: As messy as it can be, finger painting is a great way to pass the time. We only break it out on special occasions, and it does pass a good chunk of time. Word to the wise: cover your surface with garbage bags, use paper plates or bowls for paint and water, and it makes for a quick cleanup afterwards!
- Card Making: Especially when you’re separated from friends and family, making cards is a great activity to show love and get creative. I usually write a message dictated by Levi, and then let him decorate however he wants with stickers, crayons and whatever else we have lying around.
We have been trying to incorporate some Bible learning into every day! Some days, that’s a quick YouTube video, and other days it’s a little more involved. Here are some things that have been working for us:
- Never-Ending Sticker Fun: I got the Bible Animals edition of this activity book for an amazing deal on ChristianBook, and gave them out to all our preschool kids at church! It is SO great. The stickers are reusable, the pages are huge, and with some help in the beginning, little hands can easily use them. It’s a great way to talk about and teach Bible stories.
- I Can Learn the Bible!: The Joshua Code for Kids: We have been using this book to learn a memory verse every week. Some of the devotionals are a bit advanced for Levi, but we’ve just been focusing on the verse. We’ve been using different methods to learn the verse – repeating to each other, saying it in all kinds of different voices, and moving around as we say the verse (mostly jumping, haha!). Bonus – the Kindle edition is on sale right now!
- Baby Devotions: The BEST activities for preschoolers (especially those on the younger side) are on this blog! Kayla does an amazing job of combining sensory play, fun activities and Bible truth. I love all of them.
- Creation Parade: We’ve been talking a lot about creation over the past few weeks, and one fun activity is to simply have a creation parade! I let Levi go through his toys and find ANYTHING that God would have created – mostly animals and dinosaurs! We line them all up and have a “parade” to celebrate what God made!
- Creation “I Spy”: This is another fun idea. Levi is obsessed with I Spy lately, so we spend some time looking around the house, out the window, or on the patio seeing if we can “spy” something that God made!
- Acting Out Bible Stories: Like most preschoolers, our little guy is very into pretend play. Acting out Bible stories is a great way to learn. Get ready to walk on water, throw stones at Goliath and fall to the ground, or get all the animals in the ark (we’ve done this a lot)!
Books to Read
We do spend a lot of time reading books – it is one of the few quiet time activities that we really enjoy (usually it’s “go-go-go”)! Here are some of our favourite stories lately:
- The Little Critter series by Mercer Mayer: We love Mercer Mayer’s stories here. Our latest favourite is The New Baby, but books literally exist in this series for every occasion! I also love how affordable they are.
- Noah, Noah What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.: This book was an early Easter gift for Levi, and he LOVES it! So do I! It’s simple, fun and provides a great introduction to Bible characters.
- The Berenstain Bears Series: We actually only have one Berenstain Bears book from the “Living Lights” series (they’re faith-focused), but Levi wants to read it every single day, multiple times! These are a really affordable series as well, and we’ll be adding more to our collection I’m sure!
- Night Animals by Gianna Marino: We love this story! It is funny and a quick read. We have it in board book style, and it’s a book your kids will quickly memorize and read over and over again.
- Rufus and the Scary Storm: Levi claims that this is his “favourite book!” We have a couple from the Frolic Faith series, and they are great stories. They’re simple, the characters are adorable, and they drive home biblical points in great ways! Especially in this time filled with uncertainty, this is a great story.
- Quinn’s Promise Rock by Christie Thomas: I talk about this book a lot, but it really is one of our favourite books to read. With so much anxiety and fear in our world, this is a story that I love to read. It’s a great reminder of God’s faithfulness in scary times.
PRO TIP: Books can be really expensive, but I love ordering from www.bookoutlet.ca. I have no affiliation with this site – they just offer really great deals on books! If you’re not looking for something specific (or even if you are), you can load up on great books for great prices.
So, there you have it!
A giant list of activities that I hope you can enjoy with your family. Full confession – I’m no professional entertainer for our kids. There are lots of days we have waaaay too much screen time and I get easily frustrated. But, these are some tried and true activities we love, and I hope they can work for you too!