Games for 2-3 year olds

All the following games and activities for kindergarten, preschool and ESL students have been tried and tested in classrooms by The Magic Crayons, who are experienced teaching professionals currently working in Japan and China.

12. Singing

If you make simple musical instruments, such as rattles (think: Mexican Bird Rattle/Yakult containers with dried peas etc) then bang them in time to a beat to recite the ABC it will be easier for children to remember, and they’re so proud when they know the whole song!

They love banging the instruments too and making noise to go along with their singing. If you didn’t want to make rattles, then you could make wrist or ankle ties with elastic and little jingly bells so they could dance around and hear themselves dancing while they were singing.

Other good songs are... by The Magic Crayons !

11. Hide and Seek

Any cards that are being used in the lesson, introduce, then hide them around the room. The kids will have fun looking for them. Then once the cards are found and read out, swap and give one of the kids a chance to hide the cards (help them along if they get stuck – they’ll probably hide them in the same place they found them!)

10. Feathers and Balloons

Use feathers in class and have a feather race – have a start and finish line, and encourage your kids to ‘blow’ their feathers across the finishing line. Or to see how long they can keep their feather up in the air for. ** this will work well with balloons too – which may be easier to obtain – and they can take their balloon home afterwards.

9. Bubbles

Use bubbles in a game – go outside and let the kids blow their own, or stay inside and blow some for them. See if they can count how many they can touch.

8. Pretending To Be Adults

Play games that are similar to activities adults do in everyday life – go shopping, dress up in old ties and dresses, have a hospital with stethoscopes, bandages, etc, or even drive around a cardboard car.

7. Making Things

You could make macaroni bracelets or necklaces, paper hats, glue pictures (draw an animal, current topic or even the child’s name on a piece of A3 paper with glue then sprinkle glitter or sand etc over the glue and leave to dry), drawings of their families and/or pets, puppet socks with glue-on eyes and nose etc.

6. Watching Something Change

A long-term craft idea could be to grow watercress men – have sponges cut up into interesting shapes like stars and squares and hearts and have them sitting on plastic meat trays with the kids names on them. Wet the sponges – not wringing wet but moist – and sprinkle grass seed or watercress seed on the sponges – in a couple of weeks the seeds will start to sprout! If you grow watercress, the kids can eat it too, and that’s fun. You can also do this in a cup instead of a sponge, and the kids can decorate the cup as a funny face, and the watercress/grass can be hair.

5. Balancing

Lay a strip of masking tape on the floor and have a game to see who can get to the end of the strip without falling off. Lots of big actions on the teacher’s part are appreciated by the kids here – its fun to see teachers make mistakes and being silly, because the Japanese teachers don’t usually do this!

4. Pretending To Be Their Favourite Animal

Jumping like a frog, growling like a lion, walking like a puppy, hopping like a rabbit.

3. Throwing, Catching And Kicking

A large, soft ball is preferable, as they will drop it and are not good at catching yet. They like throwing balls at targets too, like knocking a soft toy off a bench, hitting a card etc.

2. Stories

Books with pictures that they can see or even act out are great, and as long as its not for too long (don’t expect over 5 minutes) they’ll enjoy a break from their busy activities to sit down and listen.

1. Play Doh

Different colours, a rolling pin and cookie cutters make for lots of fun.