Karyn Cole Karyn Cole is the lucky mom of 2-year-old girl/boy twins, Mia and Miles. After teaching elementary school for over 15 years, she now spends her days trying to enrich her class of two and organizing the chaos that is her household. After bedtime, she enjoys baking, crafting, and watching bad reality TV.

As a former teacher,  I strive to incorporate simple learning activities into daily play with my four-year-old twins.  The trick is to find ways to teach them that are motivating and fun. With the best activities, your little ones won’t even realize they are learning!  

At the same time, I realize you are busy and don’t want to spend an hour prepping for a game that you play for 10 minutes.  Most of my favorites require very little prep or special equipment. You should be able to put these together in a matter of minutes with supplies you already have on hand.  

Here are some quick ideas that require very little preparation that you can try with your little one at home today.


Water the Carrots

I originally stumbled upon this game here, and it quickly became my kids’ favorite.  The idea is simple – draw a bunch of carrots (or any fruit, veggie, or flower) on the driveway using sidewalk chalk.  Hand your kids a watering can, verbally ask them to find a letter, and have them “water” the matching carrot. Once your children can identify all the letters you can still play, just give them a sound (called the phoneme) and have the kids find the corresponding letter.  For another variation, ask them to water the first letter in a given word.


Letter/Animal Relay

This is a fun game to play with a two or three children.  To play, you need a set of plastic letters and some small animal toys.  Place the animal figures in a bowl, basket, or hoop (I used a small hula hoop) on one side of the room.  Put the letters on the other side. Have your child race to animals and choose one.  Next, he runs to find the first letter of the animal’s name.  Finally, the child brings back the pair, declares the match, and then taps the next child’s hand.  So the first player might choose a horse, then run to the letters, locate the “h,” then run back.  She then says  “horse starts with h” and then next player starts.  Continue until all possible letter matches are made.

Hint:  It helps if you go through the animals before you start and make sure there is only one possible match for each letter.  Or, if you later realize you have a horse and a hippo, quickly toss the H back in the letter pile.

Alphabet Soup

My daughter invented this game in our backyard and requested it over and over one summer.  We have done it with a small baby pool and a water table, but anything that you can put water in will work! We spread the letters out on the ground and I call them out one at a time.  Then, she picks them up, places them on a spoon, adds them to her “soup” and stirs.  Again, we adapted the game as my kids got more proficient at simply identifying letters. I would ask them to add a letter that makes a particular sound or add a certain ingredient – “add the letter you hear at the beginning of the word tomato.”

With some creativity and a few simple supplies, your kids will be begging to work on their letters and sounds!

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Category: Education

Tags: four year olds