Are you looking for ways to make learning fun? Do you want to instill a love of learning in your child and you know it starts by showing them the joy in learning?
The key to making learning fun for children ages 4 to 6 is to capitalize on what children love - games, adventures, movement, silliness, and play. At Thoughtful Play, we take the guesswork out of how to make learning fun. Our kindergarten curriculum offers games and activities that are sure to be a hit! Your child will fall in love with learning!
Here are 10 of the spectacular and yet simple ways that we embed fun into the learning within our curriculum! You can easily take these ideas and apply them to your own lessons or use them to make a more traditional curriculum, dare I say it, FUN! Anything can be turned into fun learning! Enjoy and play on!
10 Tried & True Ways to Make Learning Fun
1.) Memory: To practice matching UPPERCASE and LOWERCASE letters, play a fun game of memory. Focus on half of the alphabet at a time, or only the letters that your child could use some practice with.
Create this game by cutting one color piece of paper into 13 squares, or cut one color of 7 index cards in half. Repeat with a second color. Write half of the alphabet in uppercase on squares of one color and half in lowercase on squares of a different color (e.g., A to M and a to m). Set up a grid with the cards facedown, uppercase on one side and lowercase on the other side. Play memory by flipping over 2 cards on your turn (one upper and one lowercase to see if you have a match). If they're not a match, flip them back over and place facedown. Keep playing until all of the matches have been found!
* You can also play this game with numbers to work on Number Recognition. Create two sets of numbers 1 to 10 or 11 to 20.
2.) Go Fish: This is a great game to play with letters, words, and number pairs. The goal is to make matches of letters (uppercase and lowercase), match up words (perhaps use different fonts to practice recognizing that some letters can be written differently), or match up number pairs that sum to a certain number (e.g., number pairs that make 10).
Create two sets of cards, around 20 cards total with 10 matches. For example, if you are using this to practice number pairs that make 10, then write 1 and 9 on separate cards, 2 and 8, 3 and 7, 4 and 6, and 5 and 5. Do this twice so that you have 20 cards total. Shuffle them, deal each player 3 cards, and place the rest facedown. Take turns asking the other player for a particular card and if they don't have it, they say, "Go Fish!" Draw a card from the pile and see if you can make a match. If at any point in the game a player has no cards, have them draw one card from the pile. The player with the most matches, once all of the cards are used up, wins the game!
3.) Simon Says: This is a great way to practice identifying LEFT and RIGHT! You can also use it to advance your child's understanding of positional and directional language (under, over, next to, around, above).
Simply play Simon Says, but be strategic in using specific commands having to do with right, left, or particular positions or directions. Here's some examples:
"Simon Says touch your right hand to your left foot!"
"Simon Says to climb under the chair!"
"Simon Says stand next to the couch!"
"Simon Says walk around the chair!"
"Simon Says tap your left shoulder with your left hand!"
4.) Scavenger Hunt: Turn any lesson with letters, words, or math problems into a fun scavenger hunt by simply hiding them!
Simply write letters, numbers, words, or math problems on index cards and hide them. If you're using a traditional curriculum, cut the problems out of the worksheet and hide them. This is sure to be a blast! You can do this inside or outside. You can tell your child how many cards are hidden, or not. If you do, then embed math into the search, by repeatedly asking, "How many are still hidden?" If searching for letters, find them and say the sounds the letters make. If searching for words, read them once found. And, if searching for math problems, simply solve once they're found! Bring along a ten frame and Unifix cubes to provide a visual for solving the math problems.
For extra fun and to add in a little more challenge, you can hide letters and once found they need to be used to make words, or you can hide equations with a goal of determining if they are true or not true (e.g., 6+4 = 5+5).
*Note, you can also apply the same learning through a game of "Hide & Seek."
5.) Obstacle Courses: Create physical challenges to overcome while searching for letters, numbers, words, or math problems! This is a way to embed kinesthetic learning in a lesson! Perfect for kiddos who are very active and need a lot of movement throughout the day!
Simply create an obstacle course either inside or outside, using what you have (e.g., pillows, blankets, stools, or cones, boxes, sporting equipment, containers). Place letters, numbers, words, or math problems throughout the obstacle course. Send your child on a mission to collect something specific and once they accomplish this task, they move to the next "level." This could mean another part of the obstacle course, or it could mean they go again through the same obstacle course with the goal to collect more of something specific (e.g., words that start with the /s/ sound, the high frequency word "the," or number pairs that make 10).
6.) Tic-Tac-Toe: Play a game of Tic-Tac-Toe to practice writing numbers or letters, or to write and read words! So simple and so fun!
Instead of using X's and O's, select letters or numbers to write. For example, you might say, "Let's use 6's and 9's for a game of Tic-Tac-Toe. Do you want to be 6's or 9's?" You could also use b's and d's because we all know that's a doozy - trying to help your child remember which is which. To take it up a level, select words to use (e.g., "Do you want to be 'the's' or 'you's' in the game?).
*Note: If you have a younger child, ask them to be in charge of creating several Tic-Tac-Toe boards. This will give them practice writing vertical and horizontal lines. Who cares if it's not perfect. You can adjust it as needed once you start the game.
7.) Carnival Cups: This game is a perfect way to incorporate quick practice with letters and sounds, number recognition, or reading words. It's also super easy to set up and you can do it anywhere!
Simply grab 3 or 4 paper cups and flip them upside down. Write one letter, number or word on the bottom of each cup. Place a coin under one cup and then move the cups all around. Invite your child to guess where the coin is by having them state the letter name and sound, the number, or the word on the cup they point to. Once they say the letter/sound, number, or word, they can lift up the cup to see if the coin is under it. If not, keep going until they find the coin, then play again!
8.) Knock Out: This involves knocking over cups with the correct letter, number, or word on it. If you have a child who is bursting with energy, then this activity is perfect!
Simply write letters, numbers, or words on paper cups. Set them up on the corner of a table or the ledge of a deck outside, and have fun knocking over the correct cup! Use a bean bag, a ball, a small stuffed animal, or outside use a super soaker.
Here's some different ways to play Knock-Out:
Call out a sound and your child knocks over the letter that makes that sound.
Call out a number and they knock over the cup with the correct number.
Call out a word and they knock over the correct cup by reading the words.
9.) Ten Frame Games: Turn 1 by 10 ten frames into games where you race to the finish line through addition and subtraction.
Ten frames are simply 10 adjacent squares that help children visualize the number 10. You can play lots of games with them to help your child become more familiar with addition and subtraction, and with visualizing 10.
Play a game called Race to 10 by drawing cards from a facedown pile of the 1's and 2's from a deck of UNO cards. Move your game piece accordingly. Say the math fact as you move, (e.g., If I'm on the 2nd square and draw a 2, then I would say 2+2 is equal to 4).
To practice subtraction, you can toss 2 dice and subtract the lesser number from the greater number, and that's how many you move forward.
To practice addition up to 12, tape together 3 or more ten frames to make a Race to 30, Race to 40, Race to 50 or beyond! Toss two dice, find the sum, and that's how many you get to move forward.
10.) Go Fishing: This involves fishing for anything - letters, numbers, words, math problems. All kiddos love this type of game!
Designate an area as a pretend pond. The adult sits in the pond with the cards for the day (e.g., the words to read). Make a fishing pole from a pencil and some string. Tie a paperclip on the end of it. Have your child cast their line into the pond and attach a card to the pole. Exclaim, "You caught a fish!" Have them read the word, solve the math problem, say the sound of the letter, or identify the number. Keep casting and catching more fish!
*Note: You can have Unifix cubes nearby for your child to show the number with cubes, or have a ten frame and counters/cubes to use for solving addition or subtraction problems.
These are just a handful of the many fun learning activities and games that make the Thoughtful Play Kindergarten Curriculum a joyful learning experience! We hope you find these helpful in your journey to teach your child at home or as a teacher looking for ways to make learning fun in your classroom!
Enjoy and play on,
Hollie Young, Ph.D.
Former teacher, homeschooling mama, and Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction