5 Refreshingly Easy Small Group Preschool Activities
Are you tired of the same, boring small group preschool activities? Here are my 5 favorite activities you can use year-round! Keep a few materials within arms reach and you will always have an engaging small group preschool activity ready to go!
No time to read? Bookmark this for later but be sure to grab these letter sound activities for small groups! They are great for introducing letter sounds to your preschool students. With minilessons and foldable coloring letter books these letter sound activities are a wonderful addition to any preschool literacy program.
If you teach PK-2nd grade be sure to grab this guide to smoothly run your small group activities. From planning, to classroom management, to assessment and data collection this guide will walk you through 7 steps of effective small group instruction and includes a workbook to support you taking the information from paper to practice. Grab yours for free today!
Must-Have Materials for Small Group Preschool Activities
Call me crazy but I only need two materials to run an effective preschool small group, and so do you.
My must haves? Letter cards and numeral quantity cards! With these two materials, you can work on SO many academic concepts. Letter ID, Sound ID, letter/sound knowledge, beginning sounds, ending sounds, blending, rhyming, reading….the possibilities are endless! The same goes for math! With numeral quantity cards to 10, you can work on numeral ID, counting with 1:1 correspondence, numeral to quantity identification, more, less, subtraction, and addition – you are only limited by your creativity.
As long as you have number cards and letter cards within your reach you are on your way to an amazing small group preschool activity!
Preschool Literacy Activities
Do you have your letter cards? You are ready to go! To make small group preschool literacy activities easier, keep it engaging and keep it moving. These littles are on the go and our lessons need to meet them where they are at. The most successful small group preschool activities range from 2-5 minutes in length. All activities should be related, supporting growth by allowing the students to apply the skill from one activity to the next.
When using the letter cards, I recommend only pulling 8-10 letters (or less!) at a time. With younger preschoolers, it is beneficial to start with the letters in their names.
A key to successful small group preschool activities is having a sense of the skills your students already possess! We don’t want our students to be bored, and we don’t want the material to be too hard either. As with everything in life, balance is key (easier said than done!). Before beginning your preschool literacy activities, be sure to grab some data collection about their phonological skills, phonemic awareness, letter-sound knowledge, and other literacy skills. Unsure of the best way to collect preschool data? Grab this free guide to learn all the ins and outs of running small group activities in your preschool classroom!
find the letter
A favorite small group preschool activity is finding the letter! This activity is perfect for preschool because it can be done in so many different ways. Place the letter cards in a sensory bin and have students pick one out and say the sound. Or, place the cards face down on the table and have the students pick a card up one at a time. You could also put the cards around the room and have the students get up one at a time to grab a letter.
Alternatively, instead of having the students pick a letter and say the letter, you say the name, and the students dig for the letter. Both ways are great for building the alphabetic principle within preschool students.
find the sound
Find the sound is a quick and engaging small group preschool literacy lesson. And, guess what – the only material you need is the handy, dandy letter cards! Similar to finding the letter, you can hide the cards around the room and say the associated sounds but my favorite way to play find the sound is to build words. First, build a word with the letter cards. Say the word, then ask the students to find the targeted sound. This is a great activity for developing phonemic awareness as it visually shows students the representation of the placement of the sounds in a word. Find the sound is a perfect game for your pre-readers and writers!
what’s the change?
What’s the change is a great game for your older preschoolers or even younger Kindergarten aged children. To play this game, build a word such as “cat” on the table. Have the students close their eyes. With their eyes closed, say “I’m going to change cat to bat” and make the change. Then, ask the students to open their eyes. Ask “what’s the change?” students can say the sound, the letter, or just touch the change in the word. You can then lead a discussion about sounds and sound placement to further their phonemic awareness.
It is really helpful (especially if you are a special education preschool teacher) to end your small group preschool literacy activities with an independent work task for data collection. These tasks can be manipulative, technology-based, or paper and pencil – you can choose or you can have the student decide how they want to show what they know. These letter sound activities make great ending work tasks for small group preschool activities.
Small Group Math Activities
Grab those numeral quantity cards and let’s get teaching! Check out these easy, no-prep small group preschool math activities. Number cards are a must-have for small-group preschool math activities. They are versatile and help support students’ understanding of numeral to quantity. Number cards work well with a physical manipulative to count. This could be pencils, markers, legos, books…really whatever you have on hand. Here are two small group preschool activities to help your little ones’ math knowledge!
matching numeral to quantity
This is a classic game of match or find. Simply show the students a number card, or have them pick one from the pile. Then, have them find that number of items. Students can work independently or in teams. Sometimes I like to have the piles pre-made, then students tell me which pile the number belongs to.
For those preschoolers that need a bit of a challenge, after showing two numbers and their corresponding matches, have a discussion about which group is more and why.
Gimme More! Is one of my favorite games to play with my preschool small groups! It’s silly and entertaining while working on the important skill of numeral quantity correspondence. To play, designate one person (usually the teacher) as a giant. They want MORE of everything! It’s never enough! Grab a number card and say “FEE FI FO FUM GIANT WANTS THIS MANY”. The children give the giant the correct number of items. I usually use food, eat it quickly, then say “MORE, MORE GIMME MORE GIANT WANTS THIS MANY” as I pull another card.
Improve Your Small Group Preschool Activities
Small groups are an amazingly effective way to teach in your preschool classrooms, but (if you’re any like me) the thought of keeping a classroom running smoothly while giving each student an individualized education is daunting. Be sure to grab this free guide to not only improve your preschool small groups but also to understand why small groups are so effective when teaching younger children.
Looking for more small-group preschool activities? Be sure to check these out!