The very best way to keep learning fun and interesting as the weather gets warmer is to bulk up on hands-on activities! Keep little kids engaged and motivated with these hands-on ice cream activities for preschoolers. Little kids like ice cream. Little kids like to move and learn. And little kids like to have fun. Each of the ice cream activities in this awesome list below are perfect additions to your summer theme, and can be used at home or in the classroom.
Which do you think will be your favorite ice cream activity? I love activities that you can prep once and use again and again.
We use reusable busy bins (our ice cream theme is super popular with the preschoolers!) throughout the year, but I love adding even more ideas to my classroom. Games, sensory bins, pretend play, move and learn, and simple craft ideas encourage strengthening and mastering preschool skills of all kinds.
So basically, no matter what skills you are working on with your preschoolers, you will find a great idea below!
Every year when we go to the beach for a week, we see the cutest sand crabs! We could sit there and watch the crabs run from hole to hole forever. They duck in and out of the holes while making sure it’s safe to keep moving across the sand. This is why our lowercase letter crab match is the perfect activity for preschoolers to practice alphabet recognition in the warmer weather over the summer!
Lowercase Letter Crab Match
The lowercase letter crab match is a free printable activity that includes 26 cute little crab puzzles. Each crab puzzle has a lowercase letter on it.
To prep this printable literacy center or busy bag, print the file from the pink button below. Cut the lowercase letter crab puzzle apart around each puzzle on the gray dotted lines. I recommend laminating the puzzles before cutting down the middle of the crabs to separate the pieces. This allows the puzzles to fit back together perfectly.
Play & Learn
After the alphabet puzzles are prepped, it’s time to play and learn!
Add the pieces to a small plastic bin or basket. I like to add all of the left sides of the puzzles to one container and the right sides of the puzzles to another. This makes it easier to search through when trying to find the match.
Choose a puzzle piece and lay it on the table or on a tray. Identify the lowercase letter in the top corner. Then find the puzzle piece that has the same lowercase letter on it to complete the puzzle.
Place the matching pieces together to create a lowercase letter crab!
Continue to identify lowercase letters and make matches while putting puzzles together.
After all puzzles are complete, clean up is easy! Simply add all of the pieces of the lowercase letter crab puzzles to a small plastic container with a lid or a reusable freezer bag until it’s time to play again!
If you are looking for even more beach and ocean themed learning, you have to check out the following activities!
There is nothing better than delicious ice cream on a warm, summery day! Ice cream is one of my favorite themes to end the school year on. It also is a fun theme to use during birthdays. Our free printable ice cream counting mats are the perfect addition to any ice cream or restaurant theme!
Ice Cream Counting Mats
This free printable ice cream counting mats set includes 12 ice cream cone cards. Each card has a number in the lower corner.
To prep the ice cream counting mats, print the file from the pink button below. Cut the cards apart on the gray dotted lines. Laminate the cards for added durability and if you choose to use play dough or dry erase markers with the cards.
Count & Play
After the ice cream counting mats are prepped, simply add a small manipulative of some kind to the set. I like to add the cards to a bright colored plastic tray. I add the small manipulatives to a cup or small bowl.
There are some great options for manipulatives for these printable math mats. My go-to options include: beads, buttons, mini erasers, pom poms, play dough, dried black beans, and even dry erase markers.
I love simple counting cards and mats! In my classroom, I use these as independent learning centers and partner work.
My preschoolers will identify the number on the card. Then they will take the same number of beads and count them out one by one on the ice cream cone. Who doesn’t love sprinkles on their ice cream? I know I do!
After the beads are counted out, I insist that they count them one more time making sure to touch and count each one.
Then they clear the card and pick another one!
You can easily add kid-friendly squeezer or scoopers to add even more fine motor work to the ice cream counting mats.
There are 2 of our favorite printable sets that we cannot live without in my classroom. I use the Ice Cream Fine Motor Busy Bins as welcome work, for early finishers, and when one of my preschoolers needs just a little extra fine motor practice. No one complains about the “hard work” involved while strengthening those fine motor muscles because each activity is fun!
We also are huge fans of the Ice Cream Literacy & Math Centers. Between the ice cream themed words cards and the write the room options, to the different options available in some of the activities depending on which letter or initial sound skills are being focused on, these centers are perfect for the 4-5 year-old kiddos!
I’m so excited to offer you a sample of our brand new Alphabet Initial Sound Summer Pack! If you are working on initial sounds with your older preschoolers or if your little learners are heading into kindergarten after summer break, this set is for you! The popsicle initial sound puzzles are low prep, practice early reading skills, and encourage visual discrimination skills.
Popsicle Initial Sound Puzzles
The free set of popsicle initial sound puzzles include 26 puzzle cards. To prep this activity, print the puzzles on yardstick. Laminate and cut out around the gray dotted lines. Cut across the middl of the puzzles.
Spread the bottoms of the popsicles on the table or tray. Add the tops of the popsicles to a cup or bowl. Choose a popsicle piece from the bowl and identify the letter on it.
Find the popsicle bottom that has the picture with the initial sound. Add the top of the popsicle to the correct bottom.
Once a match is made, pick another top piece. Continue to make letter and initial sound matches until all of the puzzles are complete.
It’s not always easy to come up with alphabet activities for younger kids who have no prior letter knowledge. Exposing preschoolers to letters of the alphabet without the stress of a correct answer or desired outcome is a fun way to begin learning the alphabet. Our dinosaur egg alphabet match can be set up for young children to play different ways to fit their individual learning needs.
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Dinosaur Egg Alphabet Match
To set up this activity, you’ll need just a few supplies.
Gather 26 smooth, flat rocks to use as dinosaur eggs. Wash any excess dirt off of them and let them dry. On our rocks I used vinyl alphabet letter stickers. You could also use scrapbooking letter stickers or just write the letters on the rocks with a Sharpie.
The dinosaurs we used in this activity were from a set of all different sized dinos. My preschoolers call these the babies. It does not matter what size dinosaurs that are used though. If you can’t find a set of small dinosaurs, use whatever size you can find!
I used the circle stickers that you can find in the office supply aisles to add letters to the dinosaurs. Simply write one letter of the alphabet on a each sticker with a marker. Apply one sticker to each dinosaur.
Now that the dinosaurs and the rock eggs are prepped, it’s time to play – and learn!
Ways to Play!
For kiddos who are not yet mastered the uppercase letters of the alphabet, start this activity with just the letters in your child’s name. Slowly increase the amount of dinosaurs and rock eggs as confidence builds. Practice saying the names of the letters on the rocks and dinosaurs. Ask questions about what the letters look like, and if your child can find the matching egg for the dinosaur. Encourage creative play with the dinosaurs and the rocks too!
Older kids who have alphabet knowledge can match uppercase letters to uppercase letters on the dinosaurs and the eggs.
To add more of a challenge to the activity, add lowercase letters into the game! Write uppercase letters on the rock eggs and lowercase letters on the stickers. Practice letter recognition and matching with this mixed set!
My preschoolers love dinosaurs! It’s such a fun theme and the learning activities to go along with dinos is endless!
Flowers are blooming and the weather is warmer, so spring must be here! My preschoolers only have a couple of months left with me before summer break. This means that it’s the perfect time of year to really focus on those skills that they haven’t quite mastered. In my classroom, one of those skills would be lowercase letters. Most of my preschoolers have no problem recognizing them, but writing these letters are a little bit tricky for their little fingers. Our gardens flower lowercase letter tracing cards are not only reusable, but also help reinforce letter formation and work those fine motor muscles!
Garden Flower Lowercase Letter Tracing
This free set of gardens flower lowercase letter tracing cards includes all 26 letters of the alphabet. Each letter is printed in dotted tracing lines on a fun spring flower.
To prep this handwriting activity, download the file from the pink button below. Print the lowercase letter tracing cards and laminate the set. Cut the cards apart on the gray dotted lines.
If you do not laminate them, stick the tracing cards in a plastic pouch to use with dry erase markers. This allows the tracing cards to still be reusable.
How to Play
Now that the garden flower lowercase letter tracing cards are prepped, it’s time to play and write!
Add the 26 lowercase letter tracing cards to a small plastic bucket or basket. I like to put everything on a tray for my preschoolers. So the letter cards go in a small bucket, and the bucket will sit in the corner of the tray. Add a dry erase marker (I prefer the skinny ones!) and an eraser to the tray.
Pick a letter card from the bucket and place it on the tray. I have my preschoolers identify the letter and make the letter sound. If they are working in a small group, I will also have them tell each other a word that begins with the letter on the card.
To practice handwriting and letter formation, use the dry erase marker to trace over the white dotted lines. Focus on correct letter formation, which goes from top to bottom and left to right.
Trace the letter and then use the eraser to clean the card off. Pick another card and do it all over again!
When my preschoolers are at activities like these in a small group at a table, I will give them a certain amount of cards that they need to complete before heading to another learning center. This allows them all to be little independent workers while I sit with a small group working on more specific skills.
If you need more garden learning ideas for this spring, you are going to love the busy bag activities below from some of my favorite preschool bloggers! The best part is that you only have to prep these busy bags once, and can play again and again.
Rainbows are not just beautiful, they are also the perfect way to reinforce color recognition with preschoolers! Our printable rainbow color play dough mats help strengthen fine motor skills while practicing color skills. Older preschoolers can build the color words with play dough. Younger preschoolers, and even toddlers, can build colored rainbows with the matching color. Play dough is a motivating learning material in my classroom, so we get it out for many different kinds of activities. The rainbow color play dough mats are perfect to use as we kick of warmer weather and spring heading our way!
Rainbow Color Play Dough Mats
The free printable set of rainbow color play dough mats includes 8 different colors. Each play dough mat has a different colored rainbow on it with the color word and the word rainbow.
Simply print the file from the pink button below. Even though I laminate our play dough mats, I always print on white cardstock. This makes the set more durable. I find that the little hands in my classroom are more likely to bend my printable pieces when they are created with laminated printer paper.
Cut the rainbow play dough mats apart on the gray dotted lines. Run them through the laminator. Add different colored play dough and you are ready to play!
At the beginning of the school year, we work hard to practice rolling out play dough in “snakes” and “balls.” These play dough rolling skills are usually needed when working with play dough and any kind of play dough mat. By this time in the school year, most of my preschoolers can do these with very little help. So creating the rainbow arches will be a great way to reinforce this skill.
The rainbow color play dough mats can be used a few different ways.
The classic way to play with these play dough mats is to roll out matching colored play dough and create the arches of the rainbow. The colored rainbows are perfect to do this with preschoolers. Roll out three arches and place them on the bold arches on each rainbow picture. This leaves the perfect amount of room to place the play dough on the rainbow without frustration!
For the littler guys, it may be fun to add the matching colored play dough to the clouds only. This will work best for those little hands that cannot quite roll out play dough into “snakes” quite yet.
For my big bad pre-k kiddos who are easily reading color words, we will practice making the letters in the word out of play dough on the mat. I have a handful of kiddos who will rock this. Most of my preschoolers will focus on making rainbow arches. But when I pull them into small groups at my table, we will all work on rolling out the letters in the words.
I like that the play dough mats also offer writing practice! Now rolling out skinny play dough to make the letters in the color words written on the play dough mats is an option. It may be hard for those kids whose fine motor skills are as strong. I suggest using dry erase markers to trace the letters in the words after the rainbow is built.
I prefer to offer learning activities that have a variety of ways to play with them. This allows all different levels of learning to happen without prepping so many activities. I also love to use reusable activities that can prepped once and easily be stored in a reusable freezer bag.
Our rainbow color play dough mats go along perfectly with our Rainbow Fine Motor Busy Bins. The reusable busy bins in this set work on simple academic skills and fine motor skills at the same time. They can be used as independent welcome work, fun activities for early finishers, or even small group activities for the 3’s classes.
If you love rainbows as much as my preschoolers do, you will want to check out the other preschool rainbow busy bag ideas below! I love activities that you can use over and over again!
February is here and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! We are all about those tricky teens and using color words in my preschool classroom, so my little learners are doing a great job with our Valentine’s Day color by number printable freebie. It is a great learning center to practice number recognition, visual discrimination, colors, pencil grip, and controlled fine motor skills. And the color by number sheets are perfect for Valentine’s Day!
Valentine’s Day Color By Number
The Valentine’s Day color by number printable activity includes 2 options to fit the learning levels of your preschoolers and even kindergarteners. The cupcake page includes numbers 1-6 and 6 color words. The heart balloons page includes numbers 11-16 and 6 color words.
Print the page (from the pink button below) that works with your learning level, or print both to use with different kids in your classroom. I know that I have certain kiddos who insist on doing both when we do these color by code pages. It is nice to have this option!
After putting our names on the Valentine’s Day color by code, we go through and color the crayons at the top of the page with the correct color.
Sometimes I only have out the colors used on the page, and sometimes I have all of our crayons out. When I put all of our crayons out, it takes longer for the kids to find the correct color (especially because red and red violet are so similar!), but I like to watch their step-by-step thought process.
After coloring in the crayons, we will all find one number together. I will tell the kids at my table to “put their finger on the number 11.” After I do a quick scan to make sure they all have the number correct, we will go through to decide which color that number should be colored.
When we first began using these color by code pages, I had to definitely explain how we needed to color the entire area where the number was. A bunch of my preschoolers would color over the spot where the number was and move on. At the beginning of the year that was ok to do, but not anymore.
With these pages, I now insist that the preschoolers color the entire area so that at the end the entire page is colored in. This is hard work for some, but those small, controlled movements with their crayon not only strengthen fine motor skills, but will make writing letters and words easier in kindergarten. And with practice, it gets much easier over time!
By this time of year, almost all of my preschoolers can sit down and complete a color by code page by themselves. We’ve been using them throughout our themes in our literacy and math centers and it has made a huge difference in their high frequency words, letter recognition, numbers, and direction following skills!
Valentine’s Day just may be my very favorite time of year with preschoolers! Christmas is a close second, but February is a calmer month overall which makes more time for out of the box kind of learning.
I love adding super simple Valentine printable activities to our morning in preschool because I can prep them once and use them over and over again for years!
And our Valentine heart themed fine motor busy bins are life savers in the morning as the kiddos come into the classroom! Some mornings I have an assistant teacher with me, but some mornings she is outside helping kids get out of cars in the drop off line. So having something for the kids to play (and learn!) right away when they enter the classroom has made the start to our mornings much smoother.
Grab the Valentine’s Day color by number printable activity now!
Coming back from winter break can sometimes feel like the very beginning of school again when you teacher preschoolers! I like to come back and dive right into the learning fun, but know to keep things simple at first. These snowman number counting cards are the perfect addition to your winter theme in January. They promote fine motor skills, counting, and number recognition. And the directions and goals are easy enough for preschoolers to master!
Snowman Number Counting Mats
The free printable snowman number counting mats include 12 snowman cards. Each card has a sweet snowman on it with a different number on its hat. The numbers include 1-12.
Print the snowman number counting mats from the file at pink button below. Cut the snowman mats apart on the gray dotted line. Laminate the set if you want them to stay clean and nice. It just adds a great layer of durability, especially with 3 year-olds! In a pinch, gallon reusable freezer bags would work too.
Pick a card, identify the number on the snowman’s hat, and then add that number of snowballs to the snowman.
Add white buttons, pom poms, or even pony beads to the set of snowman number counting cards. For extra fine motor practice, add in kid-friendly squeezers. I used fun ice cube tongs that look like winter gloves for this printable math center. It made the learning more authentic – HA!
The skills focused on with our snowman include counting, 1:1 correspondence, number recognition, and fine motor skills. Preschoolers master skills at different times, so these are the perfect skills to keep practicing all school year long.
My preschoolers love to put the counting cards in order from 1 to 12. And some of them are all into adding, so they use 2 cards to find the total of both numbers. They are always impressing me with the different ways they play with our learning centers!
Building fine motor skills is so important when it comes to writing skills. But there is no need to only focus on writing when working fine motor muscles. You should see how much preschoolers love this set of snowmen fine motor activities found below!
If you are loving our snowman number counting mats, you are going to love these other reusable busy bag activities for preschoolers!
One of my very favorite times of the year is almost here! In my classroom we begin Christmas themed activities right after we get back to school from Thanksgiving break. We begin with our nativity theme which leads us right into a super fun field trip. And then after that we are all about gingerbread men, cookies, ninjas, babies, girls, and boys. If there is a book about gingerbread cookies, we are reading it, comparing and contrasting, and mostly talking about what in the world our reaction would be if one of our own gingerbread cookies got up and actually ran away! Our gingerbread fine motor number tracing cards fit perfectly into December and practice so many preschool skills!
Gingerbread Fine Motor Number Cards
This free printable gingerbread fine motor number card set includes the numbers 1-20. Each card has a numeral and a cute gingerbread friend on it.
Print the set of number cards that you will use from the file found from the pink button below. Cut them apart on the gray dotted lines. Laminate the set if you will use them in your classroom. I don’t know what it is, but my learning activity cards ALWAYS get folded and bent. It’s like my preschoolers’ little hands cannot help themselves and must bend them. So laminate the set. You’ll be glad you did!
Place the gingerbread fine motor number cards in a basket or tray. Add buttons, beads, or pom poms to the set. And for even more fine motor practice, add kid-friendly squeezers, and you are ready to play, count, and learn!
The object of this math center is to build (or trace) the number on the card with a tactile manipulative of some kind. My go-to materials are buttons, beads, dried beans, or candy. Gumdrops would be so fun for this number activity too!
Pick a card and identify the number on it. Count up to that number or even count on from that number up to 30! After that, trace the number with your finger making sure to practice correct number formation.
Now use those buttons to build the number by placing one button at a time on to the lines of the number. Fine motor skills will be strengthened with each careful placement of the buttons. It is important to remind your preschoolers to go slow. The buttons will be close together and will move and shift if placement is too hurried or sloppy. The goal is not to build the number quickly, but accurately. The number should be recognizable when all of the buttons are covering it.
More Ways To Play
My preschoolers prefer to have new activities going all of the time. They love to walk into the classroom and see what they think is a new, everyone wants to play it first activity. What they don’t always realize is that I have taken the same activity we played yesterday, given it a slight make-over and TA DA…a new activity is created!
Instead of buttons, consider using pony beads and kid-friendly squeezers. Our gingerbread fine motor number tracing cards can easily be revamped to include patterning too! Use red and green pony beads to create an ABA pattern on the numbers as you build them.
A higher leveled way to play includes 1:1 correspondence and counting skills. Instead of building the number out of manipulatives, add the correct number of pom poms to the card! Use kid-friendly squeezers to place one pom pom at a time to the card. If the number is 5, add 5 pom poms. If the number is 20, carefully add 20 pom poms to the card trying to keep them all on the card!
Now if your preschoolers are loving these early number and math center ideas above, they will also love the busy bag learning ideas from some of my favorite preschool bloggers! Which one is your favorite?
Fine motor skills are such an important area to focus on with preschoolers. This is why our Gingerbread Fine Motor Busy Bins are beyond the perfect addition to your December learning ideas. Use them as welcome work, small group ideas for the younger set, or for simple, independent learning centers. Our busy bins were created to be low prep, save ink, and use those fun manipulatives (you know you love the themed mini erasers as much as I do!) that preschoolers should be working with each day.