Let’s talk about some play ideas for Kindergarten. Whether you are looking for some rainy day activities or some hands-on materials to allow your students to interact with each other; we have some ideas for you. Some teachers may call these group activities for Kindergarten or hands-on activities for Kindergarten.
Play Ideas for Kindergarten
Somehow over the evolution of Kindergarten, the word “play” has become a bad word in some schools. Some of you may not be able to “play” in your classroom. I understand that the ability to play may lie in the hands of your administration. We won’t shame you at all, we get it.
We Are Not Judging
But, many times teachers need play ideas in Kindergarten because they have extra time to fill, rainy recess, and STEM activities even require elements of play. (Can we mention how ironic it is to ask 5-year-olds to work together to solve a problem when you don’t let them work together to solve a problem playing first?!)
Books on Play
If you are looking for some books on play in Kindergarten, here are a few we suggest for you. The first is Purposeful Play. Then we love Teach, Play, Learn. Finally, we suggest The Playful Classroom. We think diving into these books will help you and those higher up dive into play ideas in Kindergarten.
And You Have Asked for Play Ideas
We know many teachers ask the question, “What kind of items do your Kindergarteners play with?” often. We know that you get it. We know you have asked for this. So let’s dive into some kid-tested, teacher-approved play ideas.
Plus, keep in mind that you won’t grab all these items right away. This is like the ideal, dream list that will take a few years to get to.
This is a list of play ideas for kindergarteners that allow little learners to work on building activities. Please keep in mind that you can get many of these second-hand, from consignment sales, and even at yard sales. Remember you can even add some of these items to your class wish list.
Magnetic Block– These are always a hit and the name-brand magnetic blocks can last years and years. Getting a good set of blocks will be a huge hit. Check out this set. Sets of wheels are also always used.
Brain Flakes– These are classroom hits as well. They interlock together and make endless creations.
Gears– These are a little tougher to use, but a great way to work on simple machines.
Marble Run– this is called marble run, but they are also a way to make little marble rollercoasters. Kids LOVE these but they really take some problem-solving skills.
Waffle Blocks– These are another timeless creation!
Dive into Shapes– These are a HUGE hit for math and more. Students can use these to make flat and solid shapes.
One extra play tip I highly recommend is investing in a storage mat bag. Students open up the bag and play with the interlocking building blocks in the area given, either on the floor or the table. Then, they pull the straps to clean it all up quickly. HUGE help for the smallest items.
Imagination Play Items
These items allow learners to use their imagination to do more than just make something, but to interact with these materials. I am sharing with you what my class LOVES and uses. Hopefully, this will give you some ideas.
Loving Family Doll House– Every teacher I know desires this set. These can be found on yard sale websites and you can get these second-hand. Keep your eyes and ears out for a set.
Many Kinds of Family– The family and people for the doll house are needed. Keep in mind that your classroom has a variety of students in it and your families should all be represented if possible. Here is one set. And other. And another.
Barbie– These are super easy to find. I can usually find a variety of figures and clothing, which is ideal. But, I won’t lie, these are not my favorite, but kids love them. Another teacher tip, I also like to take a permanent marker to draw a bathing suit on each doll.
Little People Sets– Don’t think your little learners are too big for these. My kids LOVE the farm sets with animals and an old ABC zoo set, and they love the newer baby sets. Keep your eyes out for sales and second-hand grabs.
Minnie and Daisy with Clothes– Several years ago my youngest loved these Minnie and Daisy’s that had clip-on outfits and accessories like hairbows and shoes. These sets are really precious. Some sets even have cars or scooters. They still have some of these in stores, but look at second-hand stores as well. I attached a link to show you what they look like. Overall, if there was a toy your own personal child enjoys I bet your Kinders would love it second-hand as well.
Other Classroom Hits
Lite Brite– They have newer ones that lay flat and are super slim. SCORE. These are a little bit of science. Additionally, this toy is super open-ended. Students can make pictures with these or even make letters and words.
Blocks and Cars– I grabbed this set of blocks over a year ago and they are well-loved by my class. Plus, you can tie this set into community helpers and map-making. Don’t forget this super fun car carpet. Even if you already have cars, set up blocks with them to make it extra fun. A few years ago, my kids got a set of Magic Tracks for Christmas and they really love those too. They are now a part of my classroom toy collection.
Build A Garden– I accidentally found these last year and they instantly became a huge hit for my little learners. Students love to see the parts of a flower and build a flower garden up.
Trains and Tracks– Wooden train tracks will be another regularly played toy. One thing I love to see is when students are working together to make a track together.
Every classroom should have a few games at hand to play at any moment. These typically go on sale in the month of December. Plus, check out a store called Five Below to see if you can set cheaper, smaller versions.
One game we love is Kerplunk. Candyland is another classic. You can make so many games using those cards. Next, check out Connect 4, I prefer the Five Below version the most. Finally, don’t forget the game
Some people may suggest buying these labels or those labels. But I have a different suggestion. I place the play items for kindergarten into clear bins so my little learners can see the items inside themselves. Honestly, it is just easier and makes more sense.
Finally, grab bins that your learners can open and close on their own. They need to be able to take out their desired bin but they also much be able to clean up on their own.