Cognitive Development &
A Typical Course of Study for
Home Preschool Curriculum Guide
Motor Skills
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. Preschool educators say children ages 2-5 should have certain
motor skills in order to begin formal academic learning in the school or homeschool environment. Here are the
skills they identify:

A child should be able to:

Walk a straight line
Alternate feet walking down stairs
Stand on one foot for 5-10 seconds
Walk backwards for five feet
Clap hands
Touch fingers
Button a garment & zip a zipper
Throw a ball
Draw and color beyond a simple scribble
Control pencil and crayon well
Copy simple shapes
Cut simple shapes with scissors (handles scissors well)
Paste objects
Build with blocks
Match simple objects
Complete simple puzzles (5 pieces or less)
Here are some activities you can do to help your preschooler develop these motor skills.

Developing Motor Skills
Build An Obstacle Course!
One way to improve motor skills, get some exercise, and help your child learn vocabulary and concepts needed for
reading readiness skills is to build and use an obstacle course.

Take A Hike!
  • Walking and hiking offer opportunities to improve motor skills — especially if you change how you walk. Here
    are some fun ideas.
  • Developing Specific Motor Skills
  • Run
  • Take your child to the playground so he/she can run around.
  • Play tag or hide and go seek with your child.
  • Play the game "Red Light, Green Light 1, 2, 3" Here are the rules.
  • Play soccer or kick a ball with your child.
  • Try this Learn to Run program designed for children of all ages to do with parental supervision and
    participation. Parents will need to adjust this program depending on a young child's level of coordination and
    ability. All you need to get started is a stopwatch and a little energy.
  • Walk A Straight Line
  • Put a line of masking tape on the floor have your child walk along it.
  • Show your child how to balance on a curb or a log. (Parent supervision required.)
  • Go to the park or the gym and walk along the balancing rod or beam.
  • Build your own balance beam in the backyard with these instructions.
  • Jump
  • Visit the playground; encourage your child to jump.
  • Play a game with a balloon where you have to jump up to hit the balloon.
  • Play jump rope. Here are some instructions. Here are some fun jump rope rhymes.
  • Play games like Simon Says. Or play Follow The Leader. First, you jump, then your child tries to jump. Then,
    you touch your toes, and your child follows your lead. Run in place, swing your arms, and stretch your hands
    high up to the ceiling. Let your child be the leader and you follow whatever he/she does.
  • Do jumping jacks with your child.
  • Hop
  • Teach your child to do The Bunny Hop dance. Listen to the music and read the lyrics here.
  • Act like an animal that hops such as a rabbit, kangaroo, or frog.
  • Play Hopscotch. This classic game teaches or reinforces counting skills while developing physical
    coordination. Here are instructions for how to draw a hopscotch grid on the sidewalk, patio, or driveway along
    with directions on how to play the game. You may also be able to find a hopscotch grid at a local schoolyard.
  • Alternate Feet Walking Down Stairs
  • Practice walking up and down stairs. If you don't have stairs in your home, consider going to an indoor or
    outdoor public place or building with stairs, for example: the mall, county court house, hotel, etc. Visit a friend
    or relative that has a home with stairs — ask them if you can practice.
  • Play "Follow The Leader" up and down the stairs.
  • March
  • Show your child how to march and how to march in place. It might help to let them see a real marching band
    at a high school or college football game (or even on television broadcasts of college football games). The
    movie musical The Music Man features a marching band. Or watch a video of the UCLA marching band.
  • Include marching as a direction in games such as: Follow The Leader, Mother May I, and Simon Says.
  • Add marching to your daily walking routine.
  • March and sing along to The Ants Came Marching.
  • Stand On One Foot for 5-10 Seconds
  • Practice standing on one foot, and invite your child to try it. Time yourselves. How many seconds can you
    stand on one foot?
  • Include standing on one foot as a direction in games such as: Follow The Leader, Mother May I, and Simon

  • Walk Backwards for Five Feet
  • Take a Backwards Walk! When you are out walking, turn around and walk backwards. Your child may think
    that's pretty funny. Show your child how to walk backwards. See how far you can walk that way.
  • Play Forward-Backward. Take 5 steps forward and 2 steps back. Then take 10 steps forward 4 steps
    backward. Let your child suggest how many steps to take forward and backward.
  • Walk backward up a hill. It's fun!
  • Include walking backwards in direction games such as, Mother May I, Follow The Leader, and Simon Says.
  • Clap Hands
  • Show your child how to clap their hands together. Clap slowly at first, then faster and faster. Clap softly. Clap
    loudly. Have fun!
  • Play "Pat-A-Cake" with your child. This classic children's game has been around since the 1700's for good
    reason. Kids love the interaction with mom or dad, the simple rhyming lyric, and the easy hand motions that
    accompany the rhyme.
  • Sing and clap along to, If You're Happy & You Know It — Clap Your Hands.
  • Touches Fingers
  • Teach your child the name of each of their fingers on their hand; thumb, index or pointer finger, middle finger,
    ring finger, and baby finger. You can explain why each finger has that name. Touch each finger as you say its
  • Compare fingers! Little kids love to compare their hands to adult hands. Put your hands together with palms
    touching. How much longer are your fingers than your child's fingers?
  • Do finger plays.
  • Show your child how to snap fingers. (This may take time and lots of practice.)
  • Ask your child what shapes he/she can make out of his/her hands. For example: Circles, triangles, ovals,
    rectangles and teardrops.
  • Make shadow figures with your hands and fingers.
  • Use your fingers to count. Have your child touch each finger while counting.
  • Make finger puppets! It's easy with band aids. Just put a plain band aid around each finger and draw a face
    on it. You can make a finger puppet theatre too. Or make 2-finger puppets.
  • Get the book The Eentsy, Weentsy Spider: Fingerplays and Action Rhymes by Joanna Cole.

Button A Garment & Zip a Zipper
Show your child how to button and unbutton, zip and unzip, and snap and unsnap their clothes. While you're at it,
show them how to hook and unhook clothing, as well as how to open and close Velcro tabs.
Let your child play dress up with old clothing such as shirts and pants with buttons, zippers, hooks, and laces.

Get a dress up doll such as Gund's Teach Me Girl and Teach Me Boy that help kids learn to button, unbutton, tie
shoe laces, zip and unzip and more.

Throw a Ball
  • Show your child how to throw a ball.
  • Try to throw a ball into a laundry basket or box.
  • Play a game of catch with your child.
  • Hang a hoop (such as a small hula hoop or lightweight inner tube) from a door jam. Let your child throw a
    ball through the middle of the hoop.
  • Play with different types and shapes of balls, such as Poof Balls.
  • Draw and Colour Beyond A Simple Scribble
  • Little kids learn to draw by copying. The simplest way to begin is to start with a simple shape. Let your child
    watch as you draw a circle — it doesn't have to be perfect. Then add eyes, a nose, and a mouth to make a
    simple face. Be sure to explain what you are doing, so that your child understands.

  • Draw several simple faces and give them different features such as a happy smile, a sad face, a tiny nose,
    big eyes, curly hair, bushy eyebrows, etc. Let your child tell you what to draw. (Your child won't be
    disappointed in your artistic ability — he or she will simply be fascinated to watch the process unfold.)

  • Draw a simple stick-figure — so that your child begins to understand that pictures are made of lines —
    straight and curved. Draw trees, flowers, a house, or animals. Ask your child to join you — see if they can
    copy what you do. Eventually, they will begin to draw their own pictures.

As their ability improves, try this game

Guess What I Drew

: Put stickers, stamps or glue pictures onto index cards.

How to play: Have a player choose a card from the deck. (The player should not show anyone else the card!) Then
the player should try to sketch or draw the object that is on the card onto a piece of paper with a pencil or crayons.
When the player has finished drawing the picture, let the other players guess what the picture is in turn. Everyone
should have a turn to guess what the player drew. When everyone has had a chance to guess, the player can reveal
the card they picked. There are no winners or losers here, just guesses. Then, the play passes to the next player. offers free drawing lessons that you can print out and do at home designed especially for
preschoolers and young children.

Ed Emberley's drawing books make learning to draw easy and fun. He has an entire series of books for varying age
groups that you can probably get at your local library or bookstore. Try Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Faces that is
geared for kids 4-8.

Colouring is a matter of practice. Make sure you have a supply of colouring crayons, pencils, and markers at home,
along with lots of plain paper and colouring books within easy reach of your preschooler. Designate a small area as
your "art nook" and keep it well stocked.

Allow your child to access the supplies at will. Encourage your child's artistic expression. Our
activity and colour
pages offer a huge variety of colour & activity books and pages. Get all kinds of free printable colouring pages and
on-line colouring pages at

Control Pencil and Crayon Well
Using a pencil and crayon well takes practice. Make the materials easily available to your child so that they can
practice by drawing, colouring, and writing whenever they want. Have a variety of pens, pencils, crayons, markers
and paper with which to experiment.

Activity books such as dot-to-dots and mazes improve pencil and crayon control.

Get free printable
dot-to-dot activities.

Get free printable mazes.

Play: "Can You Draw What I Draw?" You'll need a piece of paper for each player and crayons or markers. Draw a line
(or something simple) and ask your child to do the same, then draw another shape and ask him/her to do the same.
Then reverse rolls and let your child lead and you follow.

Copy Simple Shapes

Let your child use shape cards to copy shapes onto paper. See

Trace shapes in a sandbox.  See Concepts

Finger paint and ask your child to draw shapes in the paint.

Cut Simple Shapes With Scissors

Practice using scissors. Give your child paper (like junk mail!) and scissors and let him/her cut to their hearts
content. They will not have any direction when they begin, they will need to learn how the scissors work at first. Have
a dustpan, broom and garbage near by to pick up small pieces! Encourage your child to help with the clean up!

Let your child do
cut and paste projects.

Practice cutting shapes.
Find a selection of links with free
cut-out paper doll patterns. Use the cut-outs to make your own story books and

Cut pictures from magazines.

Draw or print shapes for your child to cut out.

Paste Objects

Glue & Paste Projects — The best way to learn this skill is to get lots of practice. Start out with easy projects. The
less frustrating for your child, the better. As he/she gains skill, you can tackle more difficult projects. These projects
can get messy — so plan ahead. Wear appropriate clothing. Use a drop cloth to minimize mess and reduce worry.
The point is to have fun while teaching a skill. Be sure to use non-toxic glue and paste. Show your child how to glue
and paste together: paper, egg cartons, baskets, cardboard, boxes, milk cartons, tea bag boxes, wax paper rolls,
toilet paper and towel rolls, oatmeal boxes, etc.

Then, show your child how to use glue and/or paste to decorate their projects with: glitter, beans, rice, cotton balls,
toothpicks, felt, wood, sequins, packing materials, tissue paper, torn or cut paper, newspaper clippings, magazine
clippings, noodles, pasta, peanut shells, coloured puff balls, coloured feathers, buttons, styrofoam, pipe cleaners,
ribbons, paper punch outs, fabric and odd pieces of costume jewelry.

paper craft projects together.

Builds with Blocks
Building with blocks helps children to discover for themselves important concepts such as size, shape, number,
space, weight, and height -- all precursors to good math and science skills. Invest in a set of blocks and encourage
your child to play with them. They are the ultimate educational toy and come in a variety of options including: wood
blocks, Lego Duplos, Lincoln Logs and foam blocks.

Make your own blocks. Just use empty cardboard boxes of different sizes and shapes. (Tape them closed for ease
of use.) Use shoe boxes, milk cartons, oatmeal boxes, toothpaste cartons, etc. You can fill them with crumpled
newspaper to add weight, if needed. If you want your home-made blocks to look more appealing or uniform -- cover
them in contact paper (you can purchase inexpensive rolls of it at building supply stores). Or, make Brown Paper
Bag Blocks!

Here's how:
Materials: You will need brown paper grocery bags, newspaper, and strong tape like masking or shipping/packing

Directions: Take a standard-sized grocery paper bag and lay it on a flat surface like a table or the floor. Fold the top
of the bag over about 6" to 8" and make a crease in the bag on the fold line. Then, open the bag and stuff it with
individual sheets of crumpled newspapers. Then, fold the bag on the crease line to close it, and tape it shut
securely. You can decorate the bag-blocks if you want -- or just get busy and build forts, towers, tunnels, and
whatever else your imagination inspires.

Matches Simple Objects
Show your child two matching items — explain that they look alike, so they "match." What else matches? Look
around your house for objects that match such as silverware, dishes, napkins, light switches, windows, faucets,
pillows, socks, etc.

Match playing cards — such as all of the 2's, 5's, jacks, queens, kings, etc.
See concepts & Puzzles for
Concentration Games

Match objects you find when you walk such as flowers, leaves, rocks and shells.
Play these printable concentration games themed around Clifford The Big Red Dog.

Sort through toys and match objects that are alike.

Complete Simple Puzzles (5 pieces or less)

Buy puzzles especially designed for young children and put them together.
Make your own puzzles! Glue a magazine picture or photograph to poster board or cardboard, cut it up into 5-6
pieces (or more, depending on child's ability to assemble), and let your child put it back together. Or, use these
blank puzzles to create your own puzzle masterpieces.

Do puzzles online. A nice feature of this website that offers online, interactive puzzles for kids of all ages and
abilities, is that you can choose the puzzle category you want and then select the number of pieces you want the
puzzle to have such as 6,12, 25, 40, etc.

Back tothe beginning of the FREE  Pre-School Curriculum
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