Kindergarten Learning and Play Activities

kindergarten activities

Below are kindergarten activities that promote development of skills needed during the kindergarten year. These are great activities to use for kindergarten readiness and to help preschool and Pre-K children build the motor skills in order to succeed in their kindergarten year. You’ll find kindergarten letter activities, Kinder math, fine motor skills to build stronger pencil grasps when kindergarteners start to write with a pencil and cut with scissors. You’ll also find kindergarten sight word activities for when that time of the Kinder year comes around. Let’s have some fun with 5-6 year old activities!

Kindergarten activities and kindergarten readiness activities

Kindergarten Activities

 What you’ll notice is missing from this massive list of Kindergarten activities, is handwriting, writing letters, and even writing names. (And writing letters in a sensory bin falls into this category too! Before kindergarten, children should not be copying letters into a sensory bin. You’ll see letters formed incorrectly, letters formed from bottom to top, and letters formed in “chunks”. The same rule applies to tracing letters and words and even “multisensory strategies” for writing. It’s just too early. Unfortunately, we see a lot of preschools and standards doing the exact opposite. You’ll even find online sites sharing preschool and Pre-K writing that is just in poor advice.
 
Here’s why: prior to kindergarten age, kids are not developmentally ready for holding a pencil, writing with a pencil, and writing words. Their muscles are not developed, and asking them to write letters, copy words, and trace with a pencil is setting them up for improper letter formation, poor pencil grasp, and weak hands. 
 
What children aged 5 and under DO need is play! They need exposure to sensory experiences, sensory play, coloring, cutting with scissors (even if it’s just snipping), puzzles, games, beads, blocks, stamps…there are SO many ways to help pre-K kids and preschool children develop the skills they need for kindergarten and beyond.
 
Kindergarten is such a fun age.  Kids in kindergarten strive when they are given the chance to learn through play and hands-on activities.  These are our favorite Kindergarten activities that we’ve shared on the site, with Kindergarten math, reading and letter awareness, Kindergarten Crafts, and Kindergarten Play.   
 
 

 

Kindergarten Functional Tasks

Kindergarten is the stage when children go off to school for perhaps the first time. That’s why prior to kindergarten, it’s great to “practice” a lot of the functional tasks that children will need to do once they go to kindergarten. Some of these may include:

Now…not all of these functional skills will be established for every kindergarten child…and that’s OK! Kindergarten can be the year to practice these tasks in the school environment. 

Kindergarten Letter Activities

Kindergarten is all about letters, upper case and lower case letters, and sounds.  They learn how letters go with sounds and work on decodable reading.  These letter learning activities will help your kindergarten student with identification, sounds, and beginning reading skills.

Kindergarten Letter activities for letter learning
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Kindergarten Math Activities

Kindergarten students work with manipulating items to discover and explore numbers and patterns.  They solve simple addition and subtraction problems, more or less, comparing amounts, and shapes.
 
These Kindergarten math ideas will be a fun way to discover math ideas with playful learning.
Kindergarten Math ideas

 

 
 
 
 
 
     
 




   
 
 
   
 
 
  
 
 
    
 

Kindergarten Sight Words and Reading:

Kindergarten students learn sight words throughout the school year. These sight word activities are fun ways to learn with play while reinforcing sight word skills.
  
 
   
 
 
   
 
 

Sight Words Manipulatives | Outdoor Pre-Reading Letter Hunt

Kindergarten Books and Activities

Extending book ideas with crafts and activities are a fun way for Kindergarten students to become engaged with reading.  Listening to an adult read is a powerful tool for pre-readers.  They learn language, speech, articulation, volume, and tone of voice.  These book related activities will extend popular stories and engage your Kindergartner.

Book ideas activities for Kindergarten
 
 
 
  
 
 
 

 
 
 

 

 

Kindergarten Fine Motor Play

Fine motor skills in Kindergarten students are essential for effective pencil control and handwriting, scissor use, and clothing and tool manipulation.  Kindergartners may have little experience with tools like scissors, pencils, hole punches, staplers, and pencil sharpeners. In fact, there are MANY fine motor skills needed at school. All of these items require dexterity and strength.  
 
In-Hand manipulation play for fine motor skills: We had so much fun with water beads.  This post shares two ideas for improving in-hand manipulation skills which are so important for dexterity in self-care, handwriting, coin manipulation…and so much more!
 
Finger isolation, tripod grasp, eye-hand coordination, bilateral hand coordination…Fine Motor Play with Crafting Pom Poms has got it all!  We even worked on color identification and sorting with this easy fine motor play activity.
 

What play ideas can you come up with using common tools? These items are GREAT ways to build hand strength and dexterity that will be needed in kindergarten for pencil grasp development and endurance in handwriting. 

  • tweezers
  • tongs
  • beads
  • toothpicks
  • hole puncher
  • peg boards
  • lacing cards

 

These fine motor activities will engage your student in fine motor skills for effective hand use in functional school tasks.
 
Kindergarten Fine Motor activities
 
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 

Kindergarten Play:

Play in Kindergarten is essential for so many areas.  Kindergartners are young students who need brain breaks from desk work.  Not only for that reason, but for turn-taking, language, social interaction, self-confidence, problem-solving, and interaction, play is an important part of your Kindergarten student’s daily lives.  

Play builds skills! Check out this post on the incredible power of play. Play helps kids learn and develop cognitive experiences and the neural connections that impact their educational career, beginning right now! Occupational therapists know that play is the primary occupation of children, but what’s more is that play builds the very skills that kids need to learn and develop.

Kindergarteners can gain valuable input through play:

  • Cognition
  • Problem Solving
  • Executive Functioning Skills
  • Attention
  • Strength
  • Balance
  • Visual Motor Integration
  • Visual Processing
  • Sensory Integration
  • Self Regulation
  • Language Development
  • Self-Confidence
  • Fine Motor Skills
  • Gross Motor Skills
  • Social Emotional Development
  • Stress Relief
  • Behavior
  • Imagination
  • Creativity

Try these play ideas in the classroom or at home for fun learning (through play)!

   
 
 
 
 
   
 

Kindergarten Crafts

Crafts in Kindergarten are a great tool for so many areas.  Students can work on direction following, order, patterns, task completion, scissor skills, fine motor dexterity, tool use, and more by completing crafts in Kindergarten.  

Kindergarten crafts can have one or more of the areas listed here to help and build skills:

  • Scissor practice (placing on hand and opening/closing the scissors)
  • Exposure to different textures and art supplies
  • Practice with using a glue stick and bottle of squeeze glue
  • Practice cutting strait lines and stopping at point
  • Practice cutting simple shapes
  • Practice cutting complex shapes
  • Coloring
  • Painting with finger paints and paint brushes
  • Experience washing hands after crafting
  • Opportunities for creative expression
  • Opportunities for rule-following and direction following
  • Multi-step directions
  • Experience copying a model for visual motor benefits

Try a few (or all!) of these Kindergarten crafts for fun arts and play with your student. 

Kindergarten Craft ideas
 
 
 
 

 

Grand Old Duke of York Craft | Process Art Monster Cupcake Liner craft | Shoe Charm craft | Caterpillar Math Craft

 
 
 
We’ll be adding more to this resource soon, so stop back to find more Kindergarten learning ideas.  

Tangram Activities

Tangram activities

These tangram activities are designed to develop visual perceptual skills, visual motor skills, and fine motor skills in kids. Tangrams make a great addition to any occupational therapy treatment bag!

Tangram Activities

Tangram activities for occupational therapy interventions

Tangrams are a great tool for learning and development.  The colorful shapes are perfect for building images and working on math skills such as shape identification and patterning.  

Tangrams are also an easy way to incorporate visual perceptual skills, fine motor skills, and visual motor integration into play.  

Development of visual perceptual skills is essential for tasks like reading, writing, math, movement, self-care, and many other functional tasks. These tangram activities are perfect to improve visual perception in a playful way.  You can use tangrams to address visual perception in many more ways, including ideas to help with handwriting.


Try DIY Sponge Tangrams for another version of these activities.

And check out these cardboard tangrams for developing visual motor integration skills.

How to use tangrams to improve visual perception skills needed for reading, writing, and functional skills.

This post contains affiliate links. 


Visual perception allows us to take in visual information, process it, and use it to interpret information from our environment.  There are many parts of visual perception, but today, I’ve got three visual perceptual skills that can be developed using tangrams.  

How to use tangrams to improve visual perception skills needed for reading, writing, and functional skills.

 

Visual Percepetion and Tangrams

1. Visual Discrimination allows us to determine similarities and differences based on color, shape, etch. This skill allows us to know that a 6 and a 9 are different and that a p and a q are not the same letter. 

Use tangrams to work on visual discrimination:

  • Place tangram shapes on a piece of paper.  Ask the child to locate all of the triangles, all of the squares, etc. 
  • Ask the child to find shapes that are the same even if they are different sizes.  This tangram set has several different sizes of triangles, making it a great tool for form constancy. 
  • Use two different shapes to discuss what makes the shapes similar and different.

2. Visual Memory allows us to retain visual information.  We need visual memory in order to copy written work.

Use tangrams to work on visual memory:

Use the tangrams for a hands-on game of “Simon”.  Place shapes on a piece of paper, taking turns to add one new shape at a time.  Each player should recall the previous round before adding a new tangram shape.

Place several tangram shapes on a piece of paper.  Allow the child to stare at the shapes for a period of time.  Then, cover the shapes with a second piece of paper.  Ask the child to recall the shapes that they saw.

3. Form Constancy is the ability to recognize shapes and forms no matter what position they are in. 
 

Use tangrams to work on form constancy:

  • Use tangrams to build form constancy by positioning shapes in different positions.  Ask the child to locate all of the squares, quadrilaterals, etc. 
  • Position shapes on one side of a piece of paper.  On the other side of the paper, position shapes that can be combined to make the shape on the first side of the paper.  Ask the child to match up the two sides.
  • Position shapes along one side of a piece of paper.  Position matching shapes along the right side of the paper, with the shapes slightly rotated.  Ask the child to match up the shapes.   
How to use tangrams to improve visual perception skills needed for reading, writing, and functional skills.
 
How to use tangrams to improve visual perception skills needed for reading, writing, and functional skills.
 
 
 

Looking for more ways to build visual perceptual skills?  Try these:

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

Camping Writing Activity

camping writing

Going camping this summer? This free therapy slide deck is a camping writing activity that kids can use to work on handwriting skills this summer. Use the camping activity as a tool to work on handwriting skills in therapy sessions or at home this summer.

Use this camping writing slide deck to work on handwriting skills this summer, with a camping theme.

Camping Writing

When you think of camping and writing, you might think about writing letters home from a summer camp. Or, maybe you think of writing out packing lists before you head off to tent in the woods for the weekend.

Both are actually really great natural writing tasks that kids can use to put pencil to paper this summer and work on writing skills without the boring rote practice that thoughts of handwriting typically bring.

However, to expand on that theme a bit, this camping writing slide deck is great for building specific writing skills over the summer months.

You can use this slide deck in teletherapy sessions, in home programs, in extended school year, or at home to work on writing skills such as:

  • copying skills
  • letter formation
  • size awareness
  • line use
  • visual motor skills

The camping activities include visual forms that children can copy without admitting details so that they are working on visual perceptual skills such as form constancy, visual discrimination, visual closure, and other areas.

There are several simple camping images that build up to more complex camping images that kids can copy to build visual motor skills and attention to detail.

There’s also a part of the activity where kids can copy specific terms related to tenting and camping.

Kids can copy these words right onto the screen using an Google Jamboard or they can copy the words onto paper. Several slides have lined portions where kids can copy the words onto the screen. You’ll find a link to access this resource once you download the file in the form at the bottom of this post.

When kids copy words they need to work on they are using visual perceptual skills such as visual scanning, visual attention, visual memory, and visual shift. These tasks this skills are important for tasks such as copying written material from a chalkboard or smart board in the classroom.

This handwriting active activity can also be expanded to ask kids to copy the words into alphabetical order or to expand the activity by asking them to write a sentence including the words.

Free Camping Writing Slide Deck

Would you like to add this camping hand writing activity to your therapy tool box? Enter your email address into the form below to access this free therapy slide deck.

FREE Camping Writing Activity

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    More Ideas for Summer

    Want more ways to play and build skills while camping or with a camping theme in therapy sessions or at home? Check out these fun ideas:

    Working on building skills this summer? The Summer OT Bundle is for you!

    Summer occupational therapy activities bundle

    Work on fine motor skills, visual perception, visual motor skills, sensory tolerance, handwriting, scissor skills, and much more so that kids can accomplish self-care tasks, learn, and grow through play all summer long.

    This bundle is perfect for the pediatric occupational therapist who needs resources and tools to use in summer therapy sessions, home programs, or extended school year therapy plans.

    This bundle is perfect for parents, grandparents, and caregivers looking to provide developmental fine motor activities designed to help kids build skills.

    • Send kids back to school in the Fall without worrying about the “Summer Slide”.
    • Use these materials to work on areas like hand strength, fine motor development, scissor skills, handwriting, pencil control, pencil grasp, sensory play experiences, and much more. Just pull out the pages or activities you need for your child, and develop skills through play!

    The Summer OT Bundle includes 19 resources that you can print and use over and over again:

    Helping children develop and achieve functional skills this summer was never so easy (or fun!)

    Be sure to grab the Summer OT Bundle, a HUGE resource of therapy tools and activities for all things building skills this summer.

    Grab the Summer OT Bundle here.

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.