Basic Gear for Preschoolers

What to Expect Developmentally—Your Preschooler Learning Through Pretend.


Preschoolers are amazing learning machines! Watch and listen to them at play and you can hear the wheels of their busy minds working full tilt. From sunup to sundown, preschoolers love playing pretend games. Playing all sorts of roles gives kids a chance to become big and powerful people. Providing props for such play gives them the learning tools to develop language, imagination, and a better understanding of themselves and others.


Social Play. Your once-happy-to-be-only-with-you toddler has blossomed into a much more social being. He enjoys playing with other kids, Sharing is still an issue, but there’s a budding understanding of give and take.


Solo Play. Unlike the toddler who moved from one thing to another, preschoolers become able to really focus their attention on building a bridge of blocks, working on a puzzle, painting a picture.


Toys and development. Although preschoolers love to play at counting and singing and even trying to write letters, informal play is still the best path to learning. Building a tower of blocks they discover some very basic concepts of math. Digging in the sand or floating leaves in a puddle, they make early science discoveries.


Big Muscles. Threes and fours also need time and space to use their big muscles to release tension, develop coordination and a sense of themselves as able doers.


Your Role in Play. Kids with shelves full of puzzles and learning games or a load of every licensed characters from his favorite show, still need other choices. Parents need to take an inventory of your child’s play clutter and discover what’s really being played with and what needs to be packed away or added to the choices. Kids need a variety of choices for active as well as sit down play, props for pretend as well as STEM toys. Some toys need parental support, a time to do a project together, to model pretend or the order needed for building a model, step by step. Cues for putting a puzzle together from the edges in. This should be fun time together.


Basic Gear Checklist for Preschoolers

*Blocks and props(small vehicles, animals, people)

*Trike

*Dolls and/or soft animals, puppets

*Housekeeping toys


*Dress-up clothes

*Transportation toys

*Picture books


*Art materials—crayons, paints, clay

*Simple puzzles(eight pieces and up)

*Musical toys (Rhythm instruments and musical players they can use independently.)

*Miniature Settings(farms, playhouse, garage,etc.)

*Sand and Water toys

*Matching games and simple games of chance


Toys to Avoid with Preschoolers

These toys pose a safety hazard:

*Electric toys or those that heat up with lightbulbs like toy ovens

*Toys with projectile parts that can injure eyes

*Latex Balloons

*Battery operated vehicles that go 5 miles an hour

*Bath toys that take on water that collects bacteria


These toys are developmentally inappropriate:

*Complex building toys that adults must build while children watch

*Teaching machines that reduce learning to a series of right and wrong answers

*Coloring books that limit creativity


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