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.  

Color Snack Kids Can Make

Color snack

Preschool color activities like this Bear Sees Colors Activity makes learning colors in preschool fun…and paring a fun color snack with a book makes the concepts really stick for kids. After reading the book, make this color snack with the kiddos to develop motor skills. Then, go on a color search as a fun way to teach colors but also promote visual discrimination skills, helping them to identify visual differences that necessary skills for reading and writing. Add this colorful snack idea to our activities to teach colors to kids.

This Bear Sees Colors activity is part of a series of blog posts where we explored preschool books and came up with hands-on, multisensory activities to extend the book.

Kids can make this color snack and develop skills, and learn colors with a Bear Sees Colors activity.

Bear Sees Colors Activity

We made a creative and healthy snack based on the book and all of it’s colors.  Preschool kids (and older kids!) will love to seek and hunt for colors with these ice cream cone color scopes, then use the cones as an edible snack container. This is such a great activity for a preschool playdate.  Simply set out a plate of healthy snacks and the color scopes while the book is being read.    

Make a color snack with kids and go on a color hunt to teach colors to kids.

  This post contains affiliate links.


Color Snack Idea

This color snack is easy to make with kids, or to set up a healthy, colorful snack for the whole family.

When we read Bear Sees Colors by Karma Wilson and loved it’s rhyming story and fun illustrations. We are HUGE fans of the other Bear books, (Bear Snores On is one of our absolute favorites!) so reading Bear Sees Colors was fun for us.  We thought it would be fun to go on a color hunt with our snack using an ice cream cone telescope and seek out colors like Bear does in the book.  

This color snack requires one main ingredient, and then a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.

Simply fill up a cake ice cream cone with healthy treats: fruits, nuts, and veggies for a different snack that will get the kids to smile.  

Kids can get involved with the fruits and veggies prep. Allowing kids to help in the kitchen is a powerful way to help children develop fine motor skills.

We used the same idea for our Color Scopes based on the book, Bear Sees Colors and made the cake cones into color telescopes.  

For more ways to add color hunts to teaching colors, add the “Write the Room” cards from the Colors Handwriting Kit. Kids can scan the room for the color cards and then write the color names onto their paper, working on visual discrimination, visual scanning, and color identification.


Make a Color Scope Using a Cake Ice Cream Cone:

Use ice cream cones in a color hunt with kids and in a colorful snack.

 

It is so easy to make an ice cream cone snack for kids. To make the color snack telescope, grab a few cake ice cream cones.  

Using a sharp knife (this is a job for an adult.) Slice off the end of the cone.  I wanted the grid-like bottom of the cone to stay intact for our color scopes, for a couple of reasons:  First, it was difficult to try to cut out the grid.  Second, I wanted the kids to be able to put fruit and veggies from our snack into the cones and the grid held the treats in.  Third, if the grid was removed from the cone, the cone would probably squash when handled by little curious hands, resulting in crushed cone snack.  That would be an equally tasty and fun treat, I’m sure, but ineffective when it comes to hunting for colors in your snack 😉  


Colors Snack Idea

Make a color snack with kids for healthy snack ideas for preschool

 

In the book, Bear goes hunting with a few friends and sees all sorts of wonderful colors in the world around him.  Bear Sees Colors doesn’t hit all of the colors of the rainbow, but we decided to make our snack include a bunch of tasty berries, nuts, vegetables, and of course, Teddy Graham Crackers.  

The nice thing about this snack idea, is that you can use whatever you’ve got in your pantry and fridge.  Pull out a plate and load it up with anything colorful.  

Ice Cream Cone snack container and color scope (or telescope!) based on the preschool book, Bear Sees Colors.

 

We read through the book again as we ate our snack, and when Bear saw a color, I had the kids look through their color scopes to seek and find the color on the plate. 

Ice Cream Cone snack container and color scope (or telescope!) based on the preschool book, Bear Sees Colors.

 

I had them hunt for more colors, too. I called out a color and they had to search for it using their color scope.  They got a big kick out of this activity!

Color snack with colorful fruits and vegetables in an ice cream cone

 

We then filled up our cones with healthy treats and had a colorful snack!

Color snack for kids

 

This snack idea was fun for all of my kids, but would be great for preschool kids, especially as they identify colors.  How can you think of using our ice cream scopes?  

Ice Cream Cone snack container and color scope (or telescope!) based on the preschool book, Bear Sees Colors.

 See what the other bloggers on the Book Club Play Dates team have made for the book,  Bear Sees Colors:   Rainbow Sensory Activities from Fun-a-Day Colors Busy Bag from Craftulate Colorful Pre-Writing Activity from Still Playing School  

More color snack ideas for you may love: 

Rainbow Snacks

Valentine’s Day Snack Mix

hands-on activities to explore social emotional development through children's books.

Love exploring books with hands-on play?  

Grab our NEW book, Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities based on Books About Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy, that explores friendship, acceptance, and empathy through popular (and amazing) children’s books!  It’s 50 hands-on activities that use math, fine motor skills, movement, art, crafts, and creativity to support social emotional development.    

GET THE E-BOOK

Get the PRINT BOOK

 
 
 
 

Leonardo the Terrible Monster Game About Being a Friend

Leonardo the Terrible Monster activity

You might know that we love to partner great children’s books with crafts and activities.  Today’s hands-on activity is a Leonardo the Terrible Monster activity and it’s one that uses an amazing monster book to help kids talk about the qualities of a friend. Add this to your list of friendship activities, or when working on social emotional skills.

By the way, be sure to check out all of our book activities.  It’s been fun creating book related activities! Today’s book is Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Williams.  We created a monster craft and game where we talked about friendship.  

Leonardo the Terrible Monster craft and game to explore friendship with kids.  Talk about the qualities that makes a good friend with kids.  This book and activity is perfect for preschool and play dates!


(This post contains affiliate links.) 

Have you read the book, Leonardo, the Terrible Monster?  This is such a cool book, all about a Monster who is not so scary.  

In fact, Leonardo is terrible at being terrible.  Leonardo tries to find the most scare-able kid there is so that he can scare the tuna salad out of him.  Meet Sam.  Well, it turns out the Sam has had a bad day and is not in fact scared by Leonardo; he’s sad.  Leonardo and Sam become wonderful friends.  

This book is such a fun read with it’s big, fun font and simple illustrations.  It was easy to make a game based on Leonardo the Terrible Monster.  This game is all about what makes a friend.  We talked about qualities of a friend (and decided scaring our friends is not a good quality!)

Leonardo The Terrible Monster Book Craft and Game

We started by making a monster craft using coffee filters and fork painted fur.  For the Monster friend game, you can make a monster craft using any Monster craft, but this one was fun and easy!  You’ll need a few materials to make the coffee filter monsters:  

  • coffee filters
  • Plastic Forks
  • paint (this is my favorite brand!)
  • Paint Brush
  • Monster-ish decorations like pipe cleaners, googly eyes, yarn, or any crafting material
Leonardo the Terrible Monster craft and game to explore friendship with kids.  Talk about the qualities that makes a good friend with kids.  This book and activity is perfect for preschool and play dates!
Leonardo the Terrible Monster craft and game to explore friendship with kids.  Talk about the qualities that makes a good friend with kids.  This book and activity is perfect for preschool and play dates!

 

To make the coffee filter monsters, first flatten and paint the coffee filters.  

Add color and fur texture by pressing the back of the fork into paint and then pressing onto the coffee filter.  

Let the paint dry and then glue on details of the monsters.  It was fun to see how different each of our monsters looked.  

We then used these monster crafts in a friendship game.

Monster “What is a Friend” Game for Kids

Once your monster friends are dry, hang them on the wall for a game about friends!  

This color matching game was perfect for my preschooler (and her little sister who loves to do whatever her big sister does!)    

Talk about the colors and details of each monster on the wall.  

Discuss how each monster is different, but they all have feelings and might end up becoming a great friend. We talked about how friendship doesn’t have anything to do with appearances or visual qualities, but of the specific qualities of a friend, or how a person (or monster) acts like a friend to others.  

We talked about what exactly it means to be a friend.  

These are some of the concepts covered in our social emotional skills resource, Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities based on Books About Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy, which offers multi-sensory activities while exploring friendship, acceptance, and empathy through popular (and amazing) children’s books.

Then, to play the monster game, we played a version of “I Spy”.  I said that I could see a monster who has blue fur.

My daughter would then go over and point to the monster that had blue fur and would name a quality of a friend that the monster might have. This extended the learning of friendship concepts further, and added movement, visual perceptual skills, color recognition, and more.

This is such a great movement and sensory-based preschool activity to learn about friendship skills! 

Leonardo the Terrible Monster craft and game to explore friendship with kids.  Talk about the qualities that makes a good friend with kids.  This book and activity is perfect for preschool and play dates!

Qualities of a Friend

(according to my kids):

It was fun to talk with my kids (later my 8 year old came over to see what the fun was about and joined us) as we discussed qualities of a friend.  Some of the things we came up with were:

  • A friend is someone who helps.
  • A friend cares about their friends.
  • A friend helps people at school.
  • A friend asks others to play with them.
  • A friend tells the truth.
  • A friend takes turns.
Leonardo the Terrible Monster craft and game to explore friendship with kids.  Talk about the qualities that makes a good friend with kids.  This book and activity is perfect for preschool and play dates!

  What qualities of a friend can you and your kids come up with?

Leonardo the Terrible Monster craft and game to explore friendship with kids.  Talk about the qualities that makes a good friend with kids.  This book and activity is perfect for preschool and play dates!

Stop by to see what the other bloggers in the Book Cub Play Dates series have created based on Leonardo, the Terrible Monster.  You’ll have all the details you need to create a book themed play date!   Monster Matching Busy Bag from Fun a Day Paint Chip Monsters from Craftulate Play Dough Monsters from Still Playing School

 
 

 

 
Stop by and see some of our favorite book related activities for kids:
 Big Red Barn puppets  
 
 
hands-on activities to explore social emotional development through children's books.

Love exploring books with hands-on play?

Grab our NEW book, Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities based on Books About Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy, that explores friendship, acceptance, and empathy through popular (and amazing) children’s books!  It’s 50 hands-on activities that use math, fine motor skills, movement, art, crafts, and creativity to support social emotional development.
 
 
 
 
 
You’ll also love these free friendship slide decks that are now on the site:
 
Writing about Friendship Slide Deck – writing prompts, writing letters to friends, and handwriting activities to develop friendship skills, all on a free interactive Google slide deck.
 
Personal Space Friendship Skills Slide Deck– Friendship involves allowing personal space, and body awareness and all of this is part of the social skill development that some kids struggle with. Use this free Google slide deck to work on body awareness and personal space.

Art Play

Art Play book

Today, I have an amazing resource to share with you. Art Play is a new book that has been recently launched, and is a creative art activity book that is also a sensory and fine motor goldmine. Children can use art activities to create while developing skills and making an art project they can be proud of! Art Play is a process art creation book that focuses on developmentally appropriate art projects for kids, using sensory experiences and allows children to explore art materials at a level that is comfortable for them…without expectations for the “perfect” end product.

Be sure to check out all of the giveaway items in this year’s Therapy Tools and Toys Giveaway series. (Giveaway now closed.)

Art play combines play and art so children can develop skills through creating art in play.

Art Play

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Years ago, I created a children’s activity book with my friend Meredith, an educator and author of the website, Homegrown Friends. Meredith’s new book, Art Play, is my new favorite children’s art and activity book.

In the book, you will find easy to set-up art projects that focus on the child.

So often, we see crafts and art activities that are product focused. And, while the end-product focused craft has it’s time and place, especially when working on data collection or achieving specific goals in scissor skills or other areas, there is a place for process art in therapy as well.

And, this book has got you covered in child-friendly art projects that pull in a very important area: play!

We know that play is the job of the child. Play is a child’s primary occupation after all! And, it’s through play that these art projects allow a child to participate in creative, making activities. These are activities that allow a child to develop age-appropriate skills…through play!

This book is beautifully and thoughtfully written and includes step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow. The pages of the book are wipeable and durable, meaning the book can be right there in the play activities and the pages are kid-friendly with thick paper that kids can manipulate.

Art Play book review

Just some of the skills that can be developed through the art projects in this book:

  • Pinch and grip strength
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Motor planning
  • Visual motor skills
  • Direction following
  • Dexterity
  • Visual scanning
  • Visual memory, figure-ground, visual attention, and other visual perceptual skills
  • Tool use
  • Precision
  • Gross motor skills
  • Tactile experiences
Art play includes sensory painting that builds fine motor skills.

The art projects in the book focus on play, so there are so many play experiences for children to incorporate into art. Just some of the art play activities include:

  • Dramatic play
  • Pretend play
  • Building with blocks
  • Playing with cars/vehicles
  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Inventing
  • Creating while upside down
  • Constructing
  • Dancing
  • Picking and collecting nature

When you combine art with play, you get a lot of movement-based activities that help children develop whole-body skills!

Process Art Activities

Would you like a copy of Art Play so you can add these hands-on activities to your therapy practice or home?

Check out the blog comments below which are loaded with reader’s favorite ways to create art with kids.

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.

Goodnight Moon PDF Printable Memory Game

Goodnight Moon activity and Goodnight Moon pdf printable

Goodnight Moon is a classic book by Margaret Wise Brown that teaches so many skills, making it the perfect children’s book to use in therapy activities. We used this book activity and a DIY Goodnight Moon printable PDF memory game. It’s a calming book that inspires sleepy contentment with it’s rhyming text and simple images. The book is a fantastic tools to build visual perceptual skills including figure ground, form constancy, and visual memory. Those skills carryover with our memory game printable you can access below. However, for my own kids, I loved the calming tone that the book offers. It’s a great way to calm down before bed.

For more calm down activities before bed, try these bedtime relaxation stretches.

Our Goodnight Moon activity has been played almost as many times as we’ve read the book!  We decided to create a free printable to go along with our memory skills game, so you can play, too.    

Goodnight Moon activity for kids and Goodnight Moon pdf printable game.
Goodnight Moon activity with a Memory game inspired by the book, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.

Goodnight Moon Activity…Memory Game!

  Goodnight Moon teaches kids that fear can be caused my our imagination. I loved this explanation of what exactly Goodnight Moon teaches and how this book can be used to help kids build skills.

This post contains affiliate links.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is one of those books that we read over and over again.  Each time, the kids will sit mesmerized as I read the quiet rhyming words.  This is definitely a bedtime book that is loved at all times of the day!  When we read through the book, my kids love to look for each item on the pages and find it’s rhyme.  It’s almost like a memory game as you read through the book, especially as the mouse moves around the room in the book.  

Margaret Wise Brown Book, Goodnight Moon activity for kids.

  To make your Goodnight Moon memory game, grab a couple of pieces of card stock.  We chose brightly colors based on the colors of the book.  Because the setting occurs in a green room, we used green paper for our playing board.  

You could certainly play this memory game right on a table or floor, but my kids got a kick out of our “green room” and the green paper contained the game for our matches.  

Goodnight Moon learning Activities

Make a list of all of the rhyming words as you go through the book.  This is a great preschool book activity, but a powerful visual perception activity for all ages.  Kids can build visual memory skills as they recall each item and the way it looks throughout the book. Some objects change slightly, such as the position of the mouse. So, when kids look for that image on each page, they are building visual discrimination and form constancy. As you read the book, ask them what rhymes with each word.  They can use the book pages as a visual cue to the matching rhyme.    

Goodnight Moon book activity for kids that builds visual perceptual skills.

Goodnight Moon PDF 

Fill in your game pieces with your own drawings (or kid-drawings!) or use our free printable.  You’ll need these three sheets:

>>Draw your own pictures on the blank picture card printable.

>>OR, use our picture word card printable.

 >>Printable word cards here. We drew a picture for each rhyme and filled in another card sheet with the written words.  

Memory game inspired by the book, Goodnight Moon
Memory game inspired by the book, Goodnight Moon-FREE printable!
Memory game inspired by the book, Goodnight Moon

  Cut out each block and get ready to play.

Kids can play this Goodnight Moon activity and work on visual perceptual skills as well as other skills and learning opportunities in Goodnight Moon

  We started with a few matching games.  I placed the written word on our green room paper and had the kids scan the pile of pictures for the matching image.  This is a great way to work on literacy skills as the child matches the picture to a written word, as well as on visual scanning.  Arrange the cards from left to right as a pre-reading skill.    

Play this Memory Game for kids with the classic preschool book by Margaret Wise Brown.

  We also matched rhyming words.  Arrange a few pictures on the left side of the page and have your child place the rhyming match  to the right.    

  We then arranged the words in a block formation on the green paper.  The kids scanned the pile of pictures and placed the matches together.

Goodnight Mouse activity for Goodnight Moon book.

  After all of our rhyming games, we played an actual Memory game.  You can also modify the memory game to extend out the activity.  Match word to picture, rhyming pictures, and rhyming words.  This DIY Memory game can be played in so many ways!  

This is such a fun book activity for kids based on the book, Goodnight Moon
Memory game inspired by the book, Goodnight Moon

GoodNight Moon Activities

First, don’t forget to grab the Goodnight Moon pdf sheets to play this memory game.

Goodnight Moon inspired memory game blank game pieces.

Goodnight Moon inspired picture game pieces.

Goodnight Moon inspired word game pieces.  

Then, check out these other Goodnight Moon activities. They are great to help kids understand that sometimes scary things are in our minds and that the thoughts we think are not always as scary as things really are.

Be sure to visit the other bloggers in the Preschool Book Club to see their takes on Goodnight Moon:  

This I Spy Bottle from Mama Pappa Bubba is another fantastic visual perceptual skills activity and a calming one at that. Check out these sensory bottles and WHY sensory bottles are so calming for kids as well as HOW to make sensory bottles that make an impact.

This red balloon Art Activity from Buggy and Buddy uses Goodnight Moon’s red balloon with a creative painting activity. Kids can work on fine motor skills and tool use to paint a creative take on the book. Foster scissor use and scissor skills to, meeting therapy goals as well.

Here are more scissor skills activities kids will love.

This Goodnight Moon Scavenger Hunt from Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails is a gross motor activity that builds skills in visual perception and visual scanning. Love this idea to encourage core strength and stability!

This Goodnight Moon activity with a Lavender Play Dough kit from Homegrown Friends is a calming olfactory activity that adds sensory play and fine motor skills. Kids will love to pair the preschool book with a play dough activity.

Here is another purple play dough recipe that use crayons. How fun!

Books to Build Awareness Skills

Goodnight Moon and the concepts introduced in the book goes well with this resource for parents, teachers, and therapists. It’s a huge collection of 50 activities based on children’s books and it helps to teach children about empathy, acceptance, awareness of others, and friendship. The social emotional development that kids can gain through play based on popular children’s books is amazing!

Grab the resource, Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities based on Books About Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy, that explores friendship, acceptance, and empathy through popular (and amazing) children’s books!  It’s 50 hands-on activities that use math, fine motor skills, movement, art, crafts, and creativity to support social emotional development.    

GET THE DIGITAL E-BOOK

Get the PRINT BOOK

hands-on activities to explore social emotional development through children's books.

Elmer the Elephant Activities

Elmer the Elephant activities

Elmer the patchwork elephant looks different than his friends. Through stories and colorful pictures that depict everyday elephant life, Elmer the elephant teaches us about diversity and differences. Elmer teaches us about acceptance, friendship, and empathy. Check out the Elmer the Elephant activity below that builds a baseline for these important skills, but also helps kids with fine motor skills, visual perceptual skills, and visual motor skills.

If you love the Elmer books as much as we do, then you will adore this Elmer the Elephant activity. We LOVE Elmer the Elephant…and all of the Elmer books. Every time we go to the library, we are sure to check the shelf for a new Elmer book that we may have missed. This week’s book activity was so much fun to do with the kids, because it involved one of our favorite books (ever) and a great visual perception activity. Add this book activity to your list of crafts based on children’s books that build skills through reading.

Elmer the Elephant Activity

This fine motor craft is a powerful one because it not only builds essential visual perceptual, visual motor, and fine motor skills, but it teaches as well. This Elmer the elephant activity can be used to illustrate differences, empathy, and friendship. Here are more books that teach empathy and friendship that can be used in therapy sessions or in the classroom or home.

They loved creating and building our very own Elmer craft. Elmer’s colors made for a great way to help kids build fine motor skills and visual motor skills, too. I loved throwing in the scissor work portion of the activity and working on a few important skills. My youngest daughter worked on her color identification and sorting.  The colors in Elmer’s patchwork skin are perfect for Toddlers to practice naming colors.  Little Guy was loving the puzzle-building portion of our activity.  The lines were a great way to work on a few visual perceptual skills needed for handwriting.  

Elmer the elephant activity that uses the Elmer children's book as a guide and activity to help kids understand acceptance, differences, and diversity while building fine motor skills.

Elmer the Patchwork Elephant Activity

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If you haven’t read Elmer by David McKee, this is definitely a book you need to check out.  Elmer is a patchwork elephant with many colors.  He sticks out from the crowd of gray elephants. By exploring and interacting with his community of elephants, Elmer and the other elephants learn to accept and value his unique characteristics. Elmer is not only a colorful patchwork elephant. He is funny, smart, caring, and an individual. The book teaches us to accept differences because those differences are what make us who we are.

Elmer teaches us about diversity. He teaches us about identity and tolerance. We all have different colors, shapes, interests, abilities, talents, and ideas. Those differences are what make us special. Let’s see those differences, accept them, and celebrate them!

We made our own patchwork elephant with lots of colors and had a great time building and creating while talking about color names.  This was such a great activity for both Little Guy and Baby Girl.

Try this Elmer the Elephant activity to teach children skills like scissor use and fine motor development with a wonderful children's book.


We started with Foam Sheets in lots of different colors.  You might have seen our color sorting scissor activity post where we practiced our scissor skills.  These squares came in handy for this Elmer activity.

Create an Elmer the Elephant activity using foam pieces to teach children about empathy and acceptance of differences in others while building fine motor and visual motor skills.

 I found a picture frame at the Dollar Store that has an acrylic front, instead of glass.  This is a great writing surface using a white board marker.  I drew an outline of Elmer with the marker.  We had a little bowl of water and started sticking the foam squares onto the surface to build our Elmer.  When the foam pieces are dunked into water, they stick really well to the picture frame surface.  We did a version of this way back when our blog began with our rainbow building activity.

Fine motor activity for the book, Elmer the Elephant.

Visual Perception Activity for Kids

There were fingers everywhere, adding patchwork squares!  Little Guy and I quizzed Baby Girl on her colors as we worked.  It was a fun puzzle to get the squares fitting into the outline.  What a great way to work on visual perceptual skills, fine motor precision, dexterity, and line awareness!

Visual perceptual skills in kids are necessary for so many things…from self-care to fine motor skills, to gross motor skills…all parts of a child’s development require visual perception.  There are many pieces to the giant term of “visual perception”.  This Elmer building activity works on quite a few of these areas:

Visual Discrimination is determining differences in color, form, size, shape…Finding different sized squares to fit into the outline of our Elmer, discriminating the different colors, and shapes are a great way to work on this area. 

Visual Closure is the ability to fill in parts of a form in the mind’s eye to determine shape or a whole object.  Filling in the missing parts of our Elmer works on this area.

Visual Spatial Relations is organizing the body in relation to objects or spatial awareness.  This is an important part of handwriting.  Spacing those pieces amongst the others and in relation to the lines is one way to work on this skill.

Visual Figure Ground is the ability to locate objects within a cluttered area (think “I Spy”).  Finding a red square among the pile of foam pieces is one fun way to work on this area of visual perception.

Use this fine motor activity with the book Elmer the Elephant to help kids learn abstract concepts while building visual perception.

  Little Guy was really into this activity.  He loved lining up the squares to make our Elmer.

Elmer the Elephant puzzle that kids can do to build skills in occupational therapy sessions or in the classroom or home.

We loved how our Elmer turned out!  We’ll be using our frame again, soon.  I can think of so many fun ways to learn and play with this dollar store frame and a marker!

Elmer the Elephant book and Elmer activity for kids

More Elmer the Elephant Activities

Elmer the elephant activities for kids based on the children's book, Elmer the Elephant


Check out some of these Elmer the Elephant activities for kids. They are powerful ways to build awareness, acceptance, and friendship through the book and activity.

Elmer the Elephant activity with facepaint

Use face paint to celebrate friendship with a face painting party based on the Elmer the Elephant book.

Elmer the elephant craft

Make an Elmer craft using puppets to celebrate differences, diversity, and uniqueness in a great lesson for kids, while building fine motor skills.

Create an Elmer craft using stamp painting.

Create an Elmer the patchwork elephant craft using paint to make a paint stamped elephant craft. What a great way to build fine motor skills!

Elmer the elephant preschool craft

Kids can trace their bodies with large pieces of paper and then fill the space with colorful paper squares to celebrate uniqueness in this Elmer the Elephant preschool activity.

Teach Acceptance, Differences, and Diversity

Want to take complex and abstract concepts like empathy, acceptance, uniqueness, and diversity to the next level with kids? This digital, E-BOOK, Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities Based on Books About Friendship, Acceptance and Empathy is filled with hands-on activities rooted in interactive, hands-on, sensory play that focus on creating a well-rounded early childhood education supporting growth in literacy, mathematics, science, emotional and social development, artistic expression, sensory exploration, gross motor development and fine motor skills.

Kids can explore books while building specific skills in therapy sessions, as part of home programs, or in the home. is an amazing resource for anyone helping kids learn about acceptance, empathy, compassion, and friendship.

In this book, you’ll find therapist-approved resources, activities, crafts, projects, and play ideas based on 10 popular children’s books. Each book covered contains activities designed to develop fine motor skills, gross motor skills, sensory exploration, handwriting, and more. Help kids understand complex topics of social/emotional skills, empathy, compassion, and friendship through books and hands-on play.

Click here to get the book and add children’s books based on social emotional learning to your therapy practice, home activities, or classroom.

Exploring books through play is a guide to using children's books in therapy and while building developmental skills.

More books to teach social emotional skills

Check out our other posts in the Preschool Book Club Series for activities based on favorite books:

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.

Social Emotional Development with Books

Want to help kids learn about empathy? Striving to make gains in socio emotional development? Want to teach kids acceptance? Want to work with children on friendship? Want to celebrate differences? I have a valuable tool to share with you! The great news is that guiding children to social development and emotional development as well as emotional literacy and social fluency is easy and fun! In this post, I’m sharing book activities to help kids develop skills in these very abstract concepts. Read a popular children’s book, talk about concepts, and do the play activity. It’s a powerful way to help kids thrive!

Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activites Based on Books about Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy

Exploring Books Through Play is a guide to using books to help kids develop social emotional skills as well as other essential developmental areas (fine motor, gross motor, sensory exploration, handwriting, etc.) The book celebrates play-based learning with 50 unique, hands-on activities that explore social and emotional development, literacy, art, science, mathematics, sensory exploration, gross motor development and fine motor skills.

Books and activities about empathy, love, friendship for kids

Social Emotional Activities for Preschool

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You probably have seen book-related activities that I’ve shared in the past.  It all started with a group of amazing women who are the most inspiring and creative bunch out there.  Together, we shared hands-on learning and play activities that were inspired by simply awesome children’s books.


Here are just some of the great books we’ve read in the Preschool Book Club. Each book contains social emotional development activities for preschool (and older ages!) By using books to build socio-emotional development, kids can use concrete activities to develop abstract concepts.

social emotional development activities for kids through book activities.


Beautiful Oops– Use this book activity to help kids explore differences, acceptance, and individualism. In this book activity, we worked on visual motor skills, eye-hand coordination, fine motor work, and strengthening.


I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More – This book celebrates emotions and is a great starting point to emotional development. In this activity, we used sensory play to create art while working on eye-hand coordination, fine motor skills, and more.


The Day The Crayons Quit– Kids can explore self-identity and self awareness in this children’s book. The book covers concepts such as differences, acceptance, and social norms. We explored the book with a fine motor activity that built awareness of self as well.


Freight Train – This mesmerizing book teaches basic concepts of shapes and colors. We used it in a food activity for kids to prepare a healthy snack. The book is a great one for identifying differences in shapes and colors and is a wonderful building block to awareness.


Ish –  In this children’s book activity, we used blocks to work on various motor skills such as eye-hand coordination, visual motor skills, visual perception, and fine motor work. The book is a fan favorite and teaches kids to accept themselves and not to be so self-critical. What a great starting point to social development!


Goodnight Moon  – This classic book for kids teaches kids about focus and imagination in a rhyming and calming manner. The book helps kids understand the imagination and addresses self-awareness and awareness of one’s surroundings. In our book activity, we worked on visual memory and concentration with a themed Memory game.


Little Blue and Little Yellow – This book helps kids understand color and builds fine motor skills when paired with play dough to act out the book. However, there are bigger social emotional development concepts at hand as well. Kids can discover emotional development awareness in the concepts of friendship, awareness of self and others, and identity. We used DIY puffy paint for an interactive book activity.


Elmer – This book helps kids understand differences, acceptance, and social roles. The book can be used to work on social development in children as they talk about things that make them and others special or different. The book is a tool in building empathy. We used the book to work on fine motor skills, visual perception, and visual motor skill development in a fun book activity.

The Kissing Hand– This book is a building block in helping kids understand emotions. They can read the book and become more aware of how others might be feeling, helping them to develop empathy as well. We created a key chain craft to use as a grounding tool for emotions kids might have.


There are so many more!


The group of us bloggers decided that we wanted to come up with a better way to share our book-related ideas.  With a real book of our own!

Exploring books through play is a guide to using children's books in therapy and while building developmental skills.

Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities Based on Books about Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy


This book is full of creative learning and play ideas for kids and is based on amazing children’s books.  These activities will inspire acceptance of those around us, enhance friendship, and provoke empathy.

Social Emotional Development through Play

Check out the description on Amazon

“Exploring Books Through Play: Friendship, Acceptance and Empathy celebrates play-based learning with 50 unique, hands-on activities that explore social and emotional development, literacy, art, science, mathematics, sensory exploration, gross motor development and fine motor skills. The activities are inspired by 10 children’s books including “A Sick Day for Amos McGee”, “The Adventures of Beekle”, “Little Blue and Little Yellow” and “The Day the Crayons Quit.” Focusing on high quality children’s literature centered on friendship, acceptance and empathy, this book is designed to be used in home and school settings and is perfect for large or small groups. Ideal for children ages 3-8 years old, the activities can be adapted for multiple skill levels and developmental stages. As you work through the activities in the book children will naturally be discussing the characters, delving deeper into the lessons, bringing the stories to life and falling further in love with literature.”

Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activites Based on Books about Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy

The books that are explored in this resource were intentionally chosen for their social emotional aspects.  Activities were designed that inspire learning and play through hands-on involvement.  


Join the Club!


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Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activites Based on Books about Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy

  Grab your copy today!



GET THE E-BOOK


Get the PRINT BOOK is available on Amazon for $26.99 


This is a book that, if I saw it on the shelves of a bookstore, I would grab it up and totally buy it.  The images are bright and colorful and the creative ideas are inspiring.  Not only are the hands-on play and learning activities easy and fun to do, but they each inspire children and families to think about actions, how others feel, and how small acts of kindness and thoughtfulness can make a big difference in the lives of others.


The special launch prices will run for only one week, so be sure to grab the deals today!


E-book:
Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities Based on Books about Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy

Printed Book: Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities Based on Books about Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy

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.

One Zillion Valentines Day Craft

Valentines Day crafts

Have you read the book, One Zillion Valentines?  It i such a cute Valentine’s Day book for kids.  We read the book and made a Miniature Candy Heart Valentine based on the book a few weeks back.  That same day, we made this airplane valentine craft too, because we loved this part of the book! Valentines Day crafts are a fun way to work on certain skills in a way that is motivating for kids. This window cling Valentine’s Day craft we made years ago is a fine motor powerhouse, a lot like this airplane craft.   

This is just one of the Valentine’s Day occupational therapy activities here on the website. Use this heart craft to work on skills like fine motor strength, dexterity, direction following, and more.


Valentines Day craft for kids

Have you read the book, One Zillion Valentines? Such a cute book for kids and this craft is based on the book.

Valentines Children’s Book Activity

Pairing a book with therapy or when working on skills with kids is a fun way to open up conversation, problem solving, and strategizing to create a project or activity based on the book. This Valentine’s Day book for kids is just that. One Zillion Valentines is one children’s book that pairs nicely with a fine motor craft for kids.   This post contains affiliate links.

One Zillion Valentines craft

Valentines Day Book Activity

One Zillion Valentines is one fun book for kids around Valentine’s Day.  We love this part of the book…the message and the images!  We decided to make our own airplane craft for Valentine’s Day.

First we drew a big glue heart on large blue paper. Be sure to use squeeze glue for strengthening the hands.

Grab a handful of cotton balls.  Some brands of cotton balls are rolled and you can pinch and unroll the layers of cotton.  This is a great fine motor activity for kids!  Other brands of cotton balls can be pinched apart into strands.  

This is ALSO a great fine motor activity for kids!  Pinching and pulling the cotton balls apart works on the intrinsic hand strength of the small muscles of the hands.  These are the muscles that are located within the hand and are essential for endurance during writing and coloring tasks while holding a writing utensil with an open web space.

Make a paper airplane from red cardstock.  My Little Guy (age 5) was totally into following a step by step example to make his own airplane.  

Glue the paper airplane onto the trail of Valentine smoke and you’ve got a super cute airplane craft! Keeping the cotton strands on the glue is an exercise in eye-hand coordination.

This is a great craft that doubles as a book extension activity AND a means for working on specific skills.

How to make this Valentine’s Day Craft:

Time needed: 15 minutes.

Make a Valentine’s Craft based on One Zillion Valentines.

  1. Create the background of this Valentine’s day craft.

    Use squeeze glue to draw a big swoop on blue construction paper. This will be the clouds following the airplane.

  2. Use cotton balls to make clouds.

    Stretch out the cotton balls using both hands. This is a great fine motor workout.

  3. Make a paper airplane.

    Use red paper (if you have it) to match the book. Fold a paper airplane by bending the paper in half and folding the top of the page into a point. Fold in half again. Bend the wings down in the opposite direction. It can help to make a paper airplane along side your child so they can copy each step.

  4. Glue the paper airplane onto the page.

    Add the paper airplane at the end of the cotton clouds.

More Valentine’s Day Activities for Kids

There are many Valentines’ Day activities here on The OT Toolbox that double as fine motor and visual motor powerhouses. Check out some of these Valentine’s Day themed activities for therapy:

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.