Play Ideas for Pre-school Children

If you’ve got some spare time to fill, or want some new ideas for amusing pre-school age children, then here are some tried and tested play ideas for pre-school children, aged three to five years old.

Gardening And Hide And Seek

Pre-school age children are naturally curious and like to have a go at anything and everything. The good news is that even the most mundane activities can be livened up and made into a play activity. Being outside and exploring the natural environment is always of interest to children and they like to have a go at new things.

In your garden, you could get children involved in planting seeds, picking up autumn leaves, raking the grass, digging holes for planting plants in or helping pick fruit or vegetables that have ripened. It could be a one-off activity or, if your child shows interest, you could extend it and make it a regular occurrence, so they continue to learn about the garden, tending plants and keeping it tidy over time.

Once the gardening work is over, you could throw in a game of hide and seek too. Just be sure that any danger areas, such as garages or sheds with garden chemicals are made secure, that you supervise at all times and don’t let children play near ponds

Making Dens

Most children of this age love making dens. They can be made in the house or outside and parents can get involved or sit back and watch the action. Anything that can be used to prop a blanket over to make a roof is ideal, such as clothes airer or the back of a couple of sturdy chairs and an additional blanket can be used to cover the floor.

Once a den is made, a child may want to indulge in some imaginative play, perhaps making their den into a castle, vehicle or palace, playing in it on their own, with friends or even with you. They may also enjoy having their meals in their den, for the duration of a day. If the den is outside, then ensure that your garden is secure and that you keep an eye on them.

Creative Play

Arts, crafts and other forms of creative play can be enjoyable for pre-school age children. Depending on the exact age of your child, and the skills they’ve achieved so far, you could embark on making new objects out of old objects, such as rockets out of old washing up bottles or fizzy drinks bottles, making simple necklaces from beads or other materials or have a go at painting or making collages.

If the activity it likely to be messy, then it’s a good idea to put down some newspaper or other covers on tables and the floor to ensure no paint or glue ends up in unintentional places. You can provide as much guidance or freedom as you feel your children would benefit from, helping them through any tricky processes, such as cutting, then leaving them to indulge their creative tendencies with colouring in, threading, painting or gluing bits together.


Pre-school age children like to have a go at cooking, making simple foods such as biscuits, sweets, cakes or savoury meals, such as pizza. They particularly thrive on the idea that, after all their hard work, there’s an end result that they can enjoy consuming afterwards! It’s definitely a form of play that you have to be involved in for supervisory and safety purposes, but there’s a lot to be gained from learning together.

Equip your child with an apron, so they don’t get ingredients on their clothes, any equipment they need, such as mixing bowl, cutters or rolling pin, and away you go!