Home Preschool Curriculum Guide
Position & Direction

Activities For Helping Children Understand the Concepts of Position And Direction

There are a variety of activities you can do at home that correlate with the cognitive developmental stage of 2-5 year
olds and the typical preschool course of study. Two of the key concepts that preschool educators think children ages 2-
5 should understand in order to begin formal academic learning - in the school or homeschool environment - are
Position and Direction.

Child should understand:

Up and Down
In and Out
Front and Back
Over, On, and Under
Top, Bottom, Middle
Beside and Next To
Hot and Cold
Fast and Slow
Full and Empty
Time - Day and Night
Knows Age and Birthday
Can Identify a Calendar

Here are some activities you can do to help your preschooler learn these skills.

Up and Down
Use the words "up" and "down" as you talk with your child in everyday, normal conversations. Point to the clouds or
stars and say they are up in the sky. Point to the grass and say it grows down on the ground. When you lift your child up
off the ground, and put them back down on the ground, say out loud, "I'm lifting you up, and now I'm putting you down."

Go to the park and as you play on the equipment use the words "up" and "down." For example, "You are climbing up
the ladder so you can go down the slide." "You are swinging up, and now you are swinging back down."

Play with a Busy Beads toy and talk about pushing the beads up and down and all around.

Beanbag Toss: Throw your beanbag up, and watch it come down.

Water Play: Using a basin of water or when your child is in the bath tub, talk about what objects float up on top of the
water and what objects sink down to the bottom.
Note: Constant adult supervision required.

Do jumping jacks and describe what you are doing: "Clap your hands together up above your head. Bring your hands
down to your sides.

Bounce a ball up and down.

Listen to and sing along with the
Itsy, Bitsy Spider. Get the Itsy Bitsy Spider lyrics, sheet music, and colouring pages.

In and Out
Let your child play in a box and then crawl out of the box.

Talk about inside and outside when you are doing things together.
Talk about the things you do. For example say, "Let's go out to play" or, "Let's take a ride in the car."

Explain directions to your child while you demonstrate. For example. "Put Play Dough in the mould and then take out
the shape!"

Put water in a container and pour it out.

Hula-Hoop Game: Step into a hula-hoop then step out.
Throw a ball in a box or laundry basket and then take it out.

Front and Back
When you are waiting in line at the bank, post office, or grocery store, talk to your child about where you are in the line.
For example, "We are in back of the lady in the blue blouse and in front of the man with the red baseball hat."

Matching Game: Get a magazine and cut out pictures that depict an entire animal, vehicle, or other object. Paste the
pictures on index cards. Cut the cards in half and ask your child to match the front and back parts together like a puzzle.
Show your child the front and back of different objects such as books, boxes, and clothing. Allow your child to compare
the backs and fronts of objects. See Concentration Cards

Over, On, and Under
Read We Are Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
Listen to this fun version of
We Are Going On A Bear Hunt online.
Do the body play
Bear Hunt with your child and go through the motions with them.

Lay on the ground with your child and look up into the sky. Talk about the planes, birds and other things that are
moving overhead.

Talk about the things you go over such as a bridge or a stream.
Before going on a nature walk talk about the things you are putting on such as shoes, a jacket, and binoculars. As you
walk, talk about the things you find on the ground. When you get home, talk about all the wonderful things you've
collected while walking and place them on a
nature table!

Make a tent out of your kitchen table! While your child is under the table, talk about his/her position.

Play a
game of Limbo! You can use a rope or a broom for this fun game.

Play a direction game with your child. Ask your child to stack blocks on top of one another, next to one another, then put
two blocks close together and put another on top of or over the two blocks to form a bridge, ask your child to put a block
under the "bridge".

Top, Bottom, Middle

Play with Stacking Rings - and talk about which one is on the bottom, in the middle, and on the top.

Play the Cups and Ball game. Let your child watch as you put a ball under one of 3 upside down plastic cups (not the
clear, see-through kind). Tell your child to watch the cup that has the ball under it. Then, move them around and have
your child guess where the ball is. Left, right or middle. Lift up the cups and see if their guess was correct. Let them try
to fool you.

Talk about plants and flowers. Discuss the leaves on top of a tree, or flowers on top of a plant. Discuss the middle of
the tree or plant (trunk or stem) and the bottom roots.
Grow an avocado tree. Watch as the avocado roots sprout from
the bottom of the pit, and the seedling breaks threw the top of the avocado pit.

Talk about the body: Head is at the top, belly in the middle, and feet on the bottom.

Beanbag or Ball Toss: Use a large piece of cardboard and cut 3 holes (make a top, middle and bottom). Have your
child throw the ball or beanbag into one of the three holes. Tell your child what hole the ball went through. As you're
your child gets better, make a spinner to tell them what hole to try for or make up directions cards. (Colour-code each
hole for the card version.)

Play Jenga with your child.

Beside and Next To

Talk about positions with your child.

When you are doing things with your child, use direction words as much as possible. For example: "Look at that big
black dog next to our car!"

Play Connect Four with your child.

When you give your child directions to get something say, " Please get me the green cup next to the book" or " Come sit
beside me".

Hot and Cold

Talk to your child about hot and cold. Point out things in the house that are hot and cold such as the refrigerator or the
Talk about the weather in terms of hot and cold.

Boil water and let your child see the steam rising up out of the pot.
Explain that seeing steam is a good way of telling when something is too hot to touch. Please use caution when doing

Eat hot and cold foods together and compare them. Try a hot waffle with cold ice cream or hot cocoa with cold whipped
cream as a topping!

Ice Experiment: This experiment uses 2 ice cubes, a plate, and a sunny location. Give one ice cube to your child to put
on a plate, then place the plate in a sunny location in your home. (You'll want to keep it close to where you are working.)
Let your child play with the other ice cube on a counter or table (not in the mouth, only the hands!) and leave the other
one alone; check it often. See which one melts first and talk about why. (The heat from the body and the friction from
the movement will melt the ice cube faster.)

Fast and Slow

Run or walk quickly with your child and then slowly. Repeat. Try doing this activity while carrying your child.

Talk really fast then really slow with your child.

Read: The Tortoise and the Hare

Here's another version of The Tortoise and the Hare.

Tortoise and Hare activities:

Talk about and compare things that move fast and slow. Ask your child to imitate animals that move fast (cheetah) or
slow (snail).
Sing your child's favourite song fast and then slow.

Demonstrate fast and slow: Blow up a balloon (slow) then let it go (fast).

Many activities featuring these concepts can be found here

Time: Understands Day and Night

Enjoy these fun and educational "moon activities."

Teach the concepts of day and night with these activities.

Read the story Good Night Sun, Hello Moon by Karen Viola

Listen to the song

Follow these directions and make a sun and moon or star to tell the time of day:
Make a Sun: Cut a yellow circle out of construction paper or use a paper plate and paint it yellow and put a face on
your sun. Then trace and cut out your child's hands using yellow and orange construction paper (make enough to fit
around the circle). Glue each hand to the back of the circle. The hands represent the rays of the sun.

Make a Moon: Cut a white circle out of construction paper or use a paper plate. Draw a face on your moon. You can
also cut out a picture of a moon from a magazine and glue it to the paper plate.

Make a Star: Use a star shape to represent the night time. Use this printable star template. Cut out the pieces and
glue the triangles around the circle to form a star shape.

What to do: In the daytime, hang the sun up on your child's door. When it is nighttime hang the moon or star up. Talk
about the time of day, what you are doing and why.

For example, when you get up in the morning, replace the moon/star with the sun and talk about how you'll eat
breakfast and then plan your day together. At night, replace your sun with the moon/star and talk about your nighttime
routine of getting ready for bed. Don't forget to read a bedtime story!

  • Sing: You are My Sunshine
  • Sing: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
  • Talk about the sun, stars, and moon.
  • Do this Star Light, Star Bright poem activity.
  • Talk about the animals seen and heard during the day (diurnal) and the animals seen and heard at night
  • Knows Age and Birthday
  • Talk to your child about his/her age. Make references to their age when you can. For example: "Jesse, is four
    years old and so are you!" "You were born on June 5th. Jesse was born on September 28th."
  • A week or more in advance of your child's birthday, do a birthday count down. Let your child mark off each day
    on a calendar until their birthday.
  • Make a "Birthday Wheel" to remember loved one's birthdays and compare how many more months/weeks/days
    until your child's birthday.
  • Identify Calendar
  • Make up your own calendar to keep track of the days and months: (Click on the thumbnail to enlarge and then
  • Tip: If you print out a blank calendar and have it laminated you'll be able to use dry erase markers and reuse it!

  • Use a calendar with your child everyday to keep track of the days of the week and to count down to special
    events and outings.
  • Use a calendar to help your child keep track of the weather daily! Use stickers, get weather stamps or have
    them draw a sun, clouds, wind swirls, raindrops or snow flakes each day.
  • Keep track of special days so that your children will know when to send that handmade card to someone
  • Talk about the months of the year. Use this rhyme.
  • Read the poem Monday's Child.
  • Talk about the days of the week with your child. "Today is Monday and we'll go to story time at the library.
    Tomorrow is Tuesday and we'll go the park with grandma!"

Monthly Flash Cards with African Animal Theme PDF
Day Flash Cards with Animal Theme PDF

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