Criss cross applesauce on the shag carpet in my best friend's childhood room. It was the end of the 70s and we were just out of Kindergarten with our ABCs and 123s. We spent our summer days riding big wheels around my block, then swimming in his backyard pool. Often times his mom would usher us in with hair still dripping wet and set up a homemade board-game between his two knees and mine. We called it, "The M&M game," because a little glass bowl in the middle of the board was piled high with those colorful candy prizes.
Taking turns we'd roll the die and make our way around the cardboard trail, stopping at each space to answer a math question.
For every correct answer we'd grab a treat, never noticing we were learning.
This game, those memories, and the idea that play should be the basis for early childhood learning, became the foundation of how I'd teach my own preschoolers 30 years later.
Starting with a blank canvas, white and clean without a bit of knowledge on it, so like your two and a half year old. Take a marker and draw a spiral pattern around your board, make it into a double line and mark off individual spaces in the long learning snake. Finally, inside each empty box write a letter, uppercase & lower case, or a number from 0 - 10. But the first box says START, and that final spot holds the letters E-N-D.
Sometimes it was the roll of a die, other times the flick of our shoots and ladders spinner that propelled little minds around the game-board.
My child rolled a 3, and I taught him to move his small plastic horse / super-hero / little people farmer three spaces. Landing on the letter Mm we clapped together. Since he was brand new to learning I sang the letter factory song:
"the M says "mmmm" - the M says "mmmm"
Every letter makes a sound - the M says "mmmm"
Once he had done some learning he didn't need my help anymore. So I'd ask him for the name of a fruit or animal that starts with the letter M.
"The M says mmmm, like monkeys and mangos!"
My oldest child is 10 now and still asks to play the treat game! However, his game includes division, multiplication, and square roots making a trail around the page.
The other game my boys played, that made number recognition easy, was called "Stack the numbers!" Simply take index cards and write the numbers 0 - 10, then mix them up and lay them face side up on the floor. Then let your preschooler Stack the Numbers!
Of course you can use more numbers, like 0 - 50, or 0 - 100, 0r 0 - 200 with just even numbers, or 0-200 counting by fives....
...the stacking options are endless
What were / are some of your favorite preschool learning games.