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Activities @ Home


Are you wondering what the best toys and activities are for your young children?

It's you! Spending time with a caring adult is the best possible thing for your child's development. Project ABC is here to support you in fostering all areas of development and help you thrive as your child's first teacher. When you aren't at one of our amazing playgroups check out some of these ideas you can try at home!

Early Literacy

Early literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they actually learn to read and write. It is not teaching reading, drilling, or using flashcards. Instead, it is laying the foundation, so that your child has the necessary skills when they are developmentally ready to read.

The single most important thing you can do with your child is read every day!

Fine Motor

Fine motor skills are the ability to make movements using the small muscles in our hands and wrists. We rely on these skills to do key tasks in school, at work, and in everyday life. These small movements come so naturally to most people that we usually don't think about them.

Developing fine motor skills helps children do things like eating, writing, manipulating objects, and getting dressed.

  • Practice getting dressed independently and working on snaps and zippers

  • Teach the “pinch-pinch-pull” method so children can open their own snacks

  • Pop bubble wrap.

  • See what you can find in your yard that you can pick up with tweezers.

  • Hide coins or small figures in playdough or use scissors to cut playdough spaghetti

  • Make a collage by cutting and gluing scrap paper or old magazines

  • Make a shape from popsicle sticks and see if your child can duplicate it

  • Finger paint with shaving cream (it will wipe right off the table when done and smells amazing!)

  • Practice letter and number shapes by having children roll dough into snake shapes and form the letters/numbers around an outline. 

  • Play matching games by labeling clothespins with letters, numbers, colors, etc. Have children match by pinching open clothespins and attaching to the same item drawn on thick cardboard or paper plate. 

  • Let the child use a hole puncher and follow a straight line or simple shape drawn on paper. Have the child practice counting as they punch out the holes. 

  • Use tweezers to pick up and/or sort small items such as cheerios, goldfish, shells, peas, seeds, etc. Incorporate counting into this activity as well. 

  • Sequence beads by making patterns with different shaped and colored beads (or string macaroni) 

  • Cooking activities help foster sequencing skills as well as develop fine motor skills. Let children practice opening jars and stirring up the mixture. Squeezing out sponges is also beneficial for hand strength. 

  • Fold paper to make hats, boats, planes, etc. 

  • Encourage play with toys such as Legos and Duplos

  • Let a child rip out pages of an old phone book or magazine. Roll into a ball and let them “shoot” it into a basket. 

  • Let them pop the bubbles of bubble wrap packaging. Encourage your child to squeeze the bubbles with their thumb and index finger. 

  • Squeeze the trigger portion of a spray bottle and water sprayers by letting your child help water plants. 

  • Use turkey baster or eye droppers to transfer water from one container to the next. Make it more exciting by using several different cups of water with different food colors in each one. Your child will have fun mixing the colors to make new ones! 

  • Make a sensory box by filling a large container with dried rice and beans. Let children squeeze the mixture. Have them use tweezers to find the beans. Hide small toys or items in the rice and have children try and find them. 

  • Make a “Feely Box” by wrapping up a box in wrapping paper. Put several items in the box and ask the child to reach in and identify objects by touch. Or ask your child to take out a specific item that you name or describe, without looking. 

  • Have your child do mazes. If your child struggles with mazes, pre-draw the path using a yellow marker. Have them trace your line with a red marker. 

  • Make simple dots-to-dots. Use letters or numbers to have your child sequence the steps to complete the drawing. Or use stickers to make a shape such as a triangle. Have your child draw lines connecting all the stickers. 

  • Tracing Activities: If your child is struggling with forming letters and/or shapes, start simple by having them trace lines, zigzags, circles. Encourage them to start at the top and work down. 

  • Use sidewalk chalk

  • Egg Carton and Beans - Have the child hold a few beans in his/her hand, and place them into the container one by one by moving a single bean up to the fingertips each time without dropping the others stored in their palm.

  • Tearing paper - make sure the paper is being pinched at the top and wrists are rotating (one hand forward and one hand backwards) to tear paper. The paper should not be pulled, but ripped.

  • Baking/cooking tasks: Work on bilateral coordination (two hands together) and grip strength. Roll dough with rolling pin, spread icing on cake or cookies, stir a bowl while holding it, sprinkle toppings, squeeze bottle for toppings/ingredients

  • Draw a picture with stencils ​

  • ​Fun Activities to Improve Fine Motor

  • Playdough Recipe

  • Pencil Grasp Tips

  • How To Teach Scissor Cutting Skills

  • NAEYC Tips

  • "Brain Building In Progress" Activities: Writing and Drawing (Birth - 33 months)

Gross Motor

Gross motor skills are the abilities required to control the muscles of the body for large movements such as crawling, walking, jumping, running, and more. They also include higher-level skills such as climbing, skipping, and throwing and catching a ball.

Gross motor skills are important to enable children to perform everyday functions, such as walking and running, playground skills, and athletic skills.

  • Simon Says. Simon Says is a fun way to help your child improve body awareness and movement

  • Dancing

  • Walk Like an Animal or Wheelbarrow Walking

  • Homemade Obstacle Course

  • Make a Racetrack! 

  • Backyard Twister Made From Chalk

  • Playing Catch

Language and Speech Development

Speech and language is an essential part of any child’s development. Language development impacts your child’s social interactions, behavior, and academic skills.

Reading and singing songs are great ways to foster language and speech development.

Expressive Language ideas

  • Reading books is a great way to work on vocabulary, answering questions, grammar, and story retelling/sequencing. Ask open-ended “wh” questions (who, what, where, when, why) that require your child to think of a more detailed explanation rather than just providing a yes/no response. Ask your child to recall 2-3 important details from the story, using sentence starters such as, “first……” to help them sequence steps from the story. 

  • Playing board games such as Headbanz, Guess Who, Clue Junior, Charades and Bingo will target skills such as producing and using appropriate vocabulary, asking/answering open-ended questions, identifying semantic associations/similarities, categories etc. 

  • Have your child draw a picture of something and let them tell you about what they drew.

  • Set a timer and play a rhyming game with your child. See how many rhyming words you can think of before the timer goes off. 


Receptive Language/Pragmatic Language ideas

  • Give your child “chores” or tasks to do around the house that require them to follow 1-2 step directions (e.g. after you put your shoes in the closet, put your jacket on the chair) 

  • When reading books with your child, ask them to identify by pointing to pictures in the book (e.g. show me where the cat me which baby is eating, etc). 

  • Play board/card games (e.g. ThinkFun Roll and Play dice game, charades, Yoga Pretzels, Uno, Go Fish) that require your child to follow directions, identify familiar vocabulary, work on turn-taking skills, showing good sportsmanship, and using social language skills. 

  • Play “Guess that Emotion” using different facial expressions with your child and have them identify which emotion you are displaying. Talk about real-life situations or instances that cause you to experience each emotion. (e.g. when you pick up your toys and put them away, that makes me feel HAPPY). 

  • Have your child draw a picture and give them directions to follow that target language attributes such as location, quantity, size, shape, color, etc (e.g. give the snowman THREE BLUE buttons, draw a RED flower UNDER the tree)​​

Suggestions by Age

Birth to 2 Years

  • Say sound like "ma," "da," and "ba." Try to get your baby to say them back to you.

  • Look at your baby when he makes sounds. Talk back to him, and say what he says. Pretend to have a conversation.

  • Respond when your baby laughs or makes faces. Make the same faces back to her.

  • Teach your baby to do what you do, like clapping your hands and playing peek-a-boo.

  • Talk to your baby as you give him a bath, feed him, and get him dressed. Talk about what you are doing and where you are going. Tell him who or what you will see.

  • Point out colors and shapes.

  • Count what you see.

  • Use gestures, like waving and pointing.

  • Talk about animal sounds. This helps your baby connect the sound and the animal. Use words like "The dog says woof-woof."

  • Add on to what your baby says. When your baby says, "Mama," say, "Here is Mama. Mama loves you. Where is baby? Here is baby."

  • Read to your child. You don't have to read every word, but talk about the pictures. Choose books that are sturdy and have large colorful pictures. Ask your child, "What's this?" and try to get him to point to or name objects.

​2 to 4 Years

  • Speak clearly to your child. Model good speech.

  • Repeat what your child says to show that you understand. Add on to what she says. Use words like, "Want juice? I have juice. I have apple juice. Do you want apple juice?"

  •  It's okay to use baby talk sometimes. Be sure to use the adult word too.

  • For example, "It is time for din-din. We will have dinner now."

  • Cut out pictures of favorite or familiar things. Put them into categories, like things to ride on, things to eat, and things to play with. Make silly pictures by mixing and matching pictures. Glue a picture of a dog behind the wheel of a car. Talk about what is wrong with the picture and ways to "fix" it.

  • Help your child understand and ask questions. Play the yes–no game. Ask questions such as, "Are you Marty?" and "Can a pig fly?" Have your child make up questions and try to fool you.

  • Ask questions that include a choice. "Do you want an apple or an orange?" "Do you want to wear your red shirt or your blue shirt?"

  • Help your child learn new words. Name body parts, and talk about what you do with them. "This is my nose. I can smell flowers, brownies, and soap."

  • Sing simple songs, and say nursery rhymes. This helps your child learn the rhythm of speech.

  • Place familiar objects in a box. Have your child take one out and tell you its name and how to use it. "This is my ball. I bounce it. I play with it."

  • Show pictures of familiar people and places. Talk about who they are and what happened. Try making up new stories.

4 to 6 Years

  • Pay attention when your child talks to you.

  • Get your child's attention before you talk.

  • Praise your child when she tells you something. Show that you understand her words.

  • Pause after speaking. This gives your child a chance to respond.

  • Keep helping your child learn new words. Say a new word, and tell them what it means, or use it in a way that helps them understand. For example, you can use the word "vehicle" instead of "car." You can say, "I think I will drive the vehicle to the store. I am too tired to walk."

  • Talk about where things are, using words like "first," "middle," and "last" or "right" and "left." Talk about opposites like "up" and "down" or "on" and "off."

  • Have your child guess what you describe. Say, "We use it to sweep the floor," and have her find the broom. Say, "It is cold, sweet, and good for dessert. I like strawberry" so she can guess "ice cream."

  • Work on groups of items, or categories. Find the thing that does not belong in a group. For example, "A shoe does not go with an apple and an orange because you can't eat it. It is not round. It is not a fruit."

  • Help your child follow two- and three-step directions. Use words like, "Go to your room, and bring me your book."

  • Ask your child to give directions. Follow his directions as he tells you how to build a tower of blocks.

  • Play games with your child such as "house." Let her be the parent, and you pretend to be the child. Talk about the different rooms and furniture in the house.

  • Watch movies together on TV or a tablet. Talk about what your child is watching. Have her guess what might happen next. Talk about the characters. Are they happy or sad? Ask her to tell you what happened in the story. Act out a scene together, or make up a different ending.

  • Use everyday tasks to learn language. For example, talk about the foods on the menu and their color, texture, and taste when in the kitchen. Talk about where to put things. Ask her to put the napkin on the table, in your lap, or under the spoon. Talk about who the napkin belongs to. Say, "It is my napkin." "It is Daddy's." "It is Tamara's."

  • Go grocery shopping together. Talk about what you will buy, how many things you need, and what you will make. Talk about sizes, shapes, and weight.

  • Talk with your child a lot.

  • Read different types of books. Read every day, and talk with your child about the story.

  • Help your child learn sound patterns of words. You can play rhyming games and point out letters as you read.

  • Have your child retell stories and talk about his day.

  • Talk with your child about what you do during the day. Give her directions to follow.

  • Talk about how things are the same and different.

  • Give your child chances to write. 

Sensory Play

Sensory bins are an awesome way for children to explore the world using their senses while being hands-on. Touch, taste, sound, smell, and sight. Below are some ideas you can use to create your own sensory bin at home. 

Please be cautious of choking hazards as some items may be safer for older children. 


  • Oatmeal

  • Rice

  • Dried pasta

  • Potato flakes

  • Popcorn kernels

  • Water​​​

  • Cloud Dough​

  • Aquarium Rocks

  • Beads

  • Bird Seed

  • Bottle Caps

  • Buttons

  • Cardboard Tubes

  • Cotton Balls

  • Cut Straws

  • Fake Grass

  • Feathers

  • Gift Wrapping Paper

  • Ice

  • Magnetic Letters

  • Packing Peanuts

  • Pea Gravel

  • Plastic Gems or Vase Filler

  • Play Dough

  • Pom-Poms

  • Potting Soil

  • Puzzle Pieces

  • Sand

  • Scrap Paper

  • Shaving Cream

  • Shredded Paper

  • Silk Flowers

  • Silk Leaves

  • Snow (fake or real)

  • Water Beads


  • Measuring cups

  • Funnels

  • Measuring spoons

  • Ladles

  • Tongs

  • Scoops

  • Tongs

  • Tweezers

  • Turkey basters

  • Spice containers

  • Coffee scoops

  • Rubber ducks

  • Magnifying glass

  • Plastic Easter eggs

  • Empty dish soap containers (with squeeze top)

  • Empty ketchup containers (plastic with squeeze top)

  • Figures

  • Cars

  • Straws

Social and Emotional Learning

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defines social and emotional learning (SEL) as the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities (self-awareness), manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals (self-management), feel and show empathy for others (social awareness), establish and maintain supportive relationships (relationship skills), and make responsible and caring decisions (responsible decision-making).  Hundreds of studies that show SEL leads to beneficial outcomes related to social and emotional skills; attitudes about self, school, and social topics; social behaviors; conduct problems; emotional distress; and academic performance. Our CFCE integrates SEL throughout our curricula and culture, and through ongoing collaboration with our families and community organizations. 

Here's how you can practice SEL at home!

  • Download The "Joyful ABC Activity Booklets" series from the National Museum of African American History and Culture.  The Joyful ABC Activity Booklet series invites caregivers and educators to support children’s positive identity development while also growing their language and literacy skills with activities, museum objects, and new words. Learn more about the series and download all the available activity booklets for early learners ages 3 - 5 and infants and toddlers HERE.

  • Think of five people you would like to send kind wishes to.

  • Squeeze and let go, tensing different muscles in the body for 5 seconds and then slowly releasing.

  • Hold one finger in front of your mouth.  First, smell the flower.  Then, blow out the candle.

  • Use a happy moment to 'soak in the good' by pausing with your child to observe the pleasant physical and emotional feelings present.

  • Practice gratitude by going back and forth with your child to name as many things possible that you are grateful for.

  • The Ultimate Guide To Social Skills

  • 7 Ways to Help Kids With Anxiety

  • Try "Teddy Bear Belly Breathing" aka "Breathing Buddies"

  • 28 Social Emotional Activities for Distance Learning At Home

  • Find a space at a window.  Look at everything there is to see.  Pay attention to the movement of the grass or leaves in the breeze.  Notice the many different shapes present in your view.  Be observant.

  • Get a handful of raisins.  Pretend that you have never seen a raisin before.  Examine the raisin's appearance.  How do they look?  Feel?  Smell? Taste?  What did you notice?

  • Do your Alphabreaths!  The Story Time regulars know all about this!

  • Create Your Own Feeling Words Book

  • Strategies To Support Social-Emotional Development 

  • ASQ-SE2 Activities

  • 7 Music Games for Practicing Self-Regulation

  • How You And Your Kids Can De-Stress During Coronavirus

  • Take regular "Brain Breaks".  Get moving with GoNoodle and Mindful Movement!

  • 15 Essential SEL Activities for Preschool and Kindergarten

  • Check out GoNoodleFlow and Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube


  • PBS Kids

  • Zero To Three

  • Here are some PBS KIDS videos you can watch with your child to practice deep breathing together:

  • Daniel Learns to Be Calm on the Trolley

  • Calming Down Strategy Song

  • Belly Breathing with Elmo

  • Practice Belly Breathing

  • Glitter Jar    

Music and Movement

​Providing music and movement activities strengthens your child's physical development, listening skills, social-emotional development, language skills, and communication skills.  So, turn on the music and get moving!

  • Brain Building In Progress Activities for Babies and Toddlers

  • Brain Building In Progress Activities for 3-5yo

  • Try utilizing the same songs from our playgroups, like "The Cleanup Song", in your child's home routine. 

  • Make your own Musical Instruments

  • Have a Dance Party

  • Play 'Freeze Dance'

  • Play 'talent show

  • Draw the same symbol on two squares of paper for each song. Then put the squares face-down on the floor, and mix them up. You and your child can have fun taking turns turning over the squares, and singing the song while you look for the match!

  • Some studies suggest that background music can help boost short-term focus - give it a try!

  • Put on a jazz or classical station or fire up a playlist, then pull out drawing paper and crayons. Spend some time listening and drawing what you hear, using colors, shapes, lines, dots and crayon strokes to represent the instrumental sounds, themes, dynamics and musical moods you hear. As you draw, talk about why you're choosing different colors to represent different sounds, like the color orange for a trumpet.

  • Play 'name that tune'

  • Find "musical" library books with rhythm and rhyme

  • Form a family band

  • Dance with scarves

  • March to a drum​

  • Use music and movement for "Brain Breaks" - a favorite is GoNoodle

  • Listen to songs that teach a skill or lesson, like these songs about COLORS!


  • Check our Youtube channel for our playlists

  • Ask about our songs and rhymes print outs!


It is never too early to incorporate STEAM activities. STEAM is more than an acronym; it is a mindset. Giving children a chance to problem solve and reflect on triumphs and challenges are great ways to build resilience and passion for all things STEAM!

Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math

  • Help fold, sort, and match items while doing laundry

  • Encourage counting items from left to right, touching each item as they move along

  • Track signs of spring in a journal by drawing what you see out the window

  • Create a ramp for matchbox cars

  • Build a tower with blocks, pillows, old boxes, cups, etc…

  • Put ice in a bowl and squirt with warm water (add food coloring for extra fun and learning)

  • Make a potion out of expired or extra product 

  • Write addition problems using 2 dice 

  • Make up addition and subtraction word problems to be written and solved up to 10

  • Using piles of miscellaneous items (i.e. seashells, buttons, candy, rocks, cereals) sort by shape, color, size. 

  • Use different items as listed above to make patterns (I.e. shell, rock, shell, rock) 

  • Practice counting to 20 ensuring your child demonstrates one-to-one correspondence by touching each item as it is counted. Reinforce counting from left to right. Give your child a pile of snacks (i.e. Goldfish, M&M’s) and have them count how many they have. 

  • Setting the table at mealtimes helps develop one-to-one correspondence. Have your child set the table with one cup and plate per person. 

  • Count toys as they are picked up and put away. 

  • Make up simple problems using everyday objects. (example: Mom was setting the table and needed 5 forks.  Dad found 4 how many more does she need?)

  • Take two toys and guess which is heavier. Find out by holding the toys in each hand. Use scales to compare the weights.

  • See how quickly cars, marbles and balls roll down different surfaces such as baking trays, big books and planks of wood. See if changing the surface changes how fast the object goes.

  • Listen to the rain fall on different surfaces. Ask your child questions like What does it sound like? and What does it smell like? 

  • Examine objects under a magnifying glass or take photos with your phone and enlarge them on the screen.

  • Plant vegetable offcuts and seeds, flower seeds and seedlings with your child. Watch how they grow over time. Take photos to record the changes. Talk about the changes together.  Plant them in some different places to see how they grow differently (shade or sun, soil types, pot or garden bed). Discuss the differences and what works best.

  • Explore outside at night with your child – with and without a flashlight. Ask questions like What can you see? and What can you hear?

  • Build a tower with 5 blocks and a tower with 8 blocks.  Which has more?  Continue with other numbers.

  • Name the shapes of your food at each meal and snack time.

  • Place a wet paper towel in a ziplock bag with a dry lima bean.  Tape it to the window and watch it grow.

  • Draw something you can taste, something you can see, smell, hear, and touch.

  •  Make shadows on the wall with a flashlight. Talk about how shadows change when the torch or objects are moved closer to or further away from the wall. 

  •  Investigate a tree together. Try and hold hands around the tree trunk. Ask questions about what the bark looks, feels and smells like. See how many colors you can find. Talk about what lives in the tree and see if you can find anything.

  • Close your eyes and listen for different sounds. Talk about what you can hear, for example the birds and the wind rustling the leaves. Listen for sounds outside the park, for example cars and planes.

  • Stand still in one place. Talk and ask questions about the things you can see moving around you like birds flying overhead, leaves blowing on the ground, dogs running and people walking. 

  • Get swinging! Talk about what makes the swing work. Describe how to make the swing go higher.

  • Slide down the slide and talk about how and why you can stop mid-slide.

  • Roll an object down the slide. Talk about how to make it go faster or slower. 

  •  Blow bubbles and get your child to try and catch them. Ask questions like What makes the bubbles float? and What makes the bubbles pop? See how long a bubble can stay in the air. 

  •  Put different objects in the bath with your child. Get your child to see if they float or sink. Ask them to guess what they think might happen before they try. Ask why some objects float and others sink. Talk about ways to make floating objects sink, and sinking objects float.

  • Get your child to fill different objects with water and then empty them. Use cleaned shampoo bottles to squirt water. Squeeze the bottle when it is empty and full and talk about how that feels. Squeeze the bottle under water and above water to see what happens.









  • "Brain Building In Progress" Activities: Math (birth - 33 months)

  • "Brain Building in Progress" Activities: Science (birth - 33 months)

  • "Brain Building in Progress" Activities: Ramps and Rolling (ages 3-5yo)

  • "Brain Building in Progress" Activities: Building Houses and Homes (ages 3-5yo)

  • "Brain Building in Progress" Activities: Watch Them Grow (ages 3-5yo)

  • "Brain Building in Progress" Activities: Wonderful Water (ages 3-5yo)

  • "Brain Building in Progress" Activities: Colors All Around (ages 3-5yo)

  • What makes a good SCIENCE EXPLORER?
    ·       Curiosity: Wondering about the world, wanting to explore, willingness to try new things and take risks
    ·       Critical thinking: Employing objectivity, looking for and applying evidence
    ·       Creativity: Imagining possibilities, solutions, and forms of expression; thinking outside the box
    ·       Persistence: Focusing, sticking to it, learning from mistakes
    ·       Problem Solving: Identifying issues, viewing potential solutions from multiple perspectives

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