Four-year-olds are miniature explorers and scientists. Plus, they are primed for independent play! As a result, their developing brains need constant mental and physical stimulation, so it can be tough to keep them occupied. Fortunately, these Montessori-inspired things to do with a 4-year-old include some great crowd-pleasers. Grounded in the Montessori philosophy, these learning activities for four-year-olds are perfect for the home.
Developmental Milestones for 4-Year-Olds
According to the Child Mind Institute, these are the milestones to track. Of course, keep in mind that every child is different and will develop at his own pace. With that said, if you have any concerns, definitely seek out your pediatrician's opinion.
- Hops and stands on one foot up to five seconds
- Goes upstairs and downstairs without support
- Kicks ball forward
- Throws ball overhand
- Catches bounced ball most of the time
- Moves forward and backward with agility
Fine Motor Skills
- Copies square shapes
- Draws a person with two to four body parts
- Uses scissors
- Draws circles and squares
- Begins to copy some capital letters
Reading, Writing, & Comprehension
- Understands the concepts of “same” and “different”
- Has mastered some basic rules of grammar
- Speaks in sentences of five to six words
- Speaks clearly enough for strangers to understand
- Tells stories
- Correctly names some colors
- Understands the concept of counting and may know a few numbers
- Approaches problems from a single point of view
- Begins to have a clearer sense of time
- Follows three-part commands
- Recalls parts of a story
- Understands the concept of same/different
- Engages in fantasy play
Social & Emotional Intelligence
- Interested in new experiences
- Cooperates with other children
- Plays “Mom” or “Dad”
- Increasingly inventive in fantasy play
- Dresses and undresses
- Negotiates solutions to conflicts
- More independent
- Imagines that many unfamiliar images may be “monsters”
- Views self as a whole person involving body, mind, and feelings
- Often cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality
Activities for Four-Year-Olds
The Importance of Play
Montessori often gets criticized for too much structure or a lack of joy. However, that is not the case at all. Montessori children find great joy in work and often their “play” is their “work”. At around age four and even younger, many children start exploring the idea of independence. During this time, we observe kids' creativity and emotional intelligence begin to shine as their vocabularies and focus improve.
Adults can support these developments with learning activities for 4-year-olds that include:
- Creative play through art and music
- Cooperative play through work in various areas of the Montessori classroom
- Gross motor skills development by incorporating movement into the learning
- Physical activity especially in the outdoor classroom
- Simple logical everyday discussion (include children in conversation and decision making, treat them with respect)
As you know, childhood education techniques from a range of schools touch on these and many other areas. Hands-on Montessori learning styles foster creativity, reasoning, and expression, especially when kids start early.
Art Activities for 4-Year-Olds
Four-year-old children are itching for chances to practice and develop their fine motor skills, creativity, and imagination. I have loads of art activities for preschoolers available for your perusal. The focus is on the process, not the end result.
Art is everywhere in the Montessori classroom. The materials are beautiful and created intentionally. Some materials, like those materials in the Sensorial area of the classroom, remind me of famous artwork. For example, the Trinomial Cube brings to mind the work of Dutch abstract painter Mondrian’s abstract painting Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow.
Here are some ways to help children in this area of development.
Draw Shapes Using Metal Insets
Have your children use metal insets to draw shapes and create designs. In addition, use colored pencils and tracing paper to further the activity. After that, you can extend this activity to use pin pokers or scissor cutting. Finally, always be sure to ask questions along the way and make observational statements about the child's work.
Questions to Ask & Statements to Make:
- I like how you combined the circle and the square.
- You like the color green, I can tell.
- Do some shapes look the same?
- How do some shapes look different after being filled in?
- Do the two shapes together make new shapes?
- Model the work the child is doing
- Keep it open-ended
Keeping each step of the activity separate may make it easier for the kids to focus. It also helps them break down tasks into two essential parts: seeing and doing. This helps executive functioning skills. These concepts will prove useful during many other learning activities for four-year-olds.
Draw or Trace Representations
Have your kids cut loose by drawing some people and animals using magazines or shapes. Ask them to draw their favorite shape for the body. Then, have them add more elements of their choice for the head, legs, and other parts. Allow the child the freedom to create and to use his imagination. Encourage children to tell a story with their drawings.
Whether their stick figures or fantastical colorings don't matter. These games for four-year-olds are about exploring the freedom of expression, not scrutinizing the results. Simply give verbal instructions as you let the creativity fly.
Be positive and encouraging as you let your children explore their imaginations. Activities for 4-year-olds to do at home should be low-key, fun and supportive.
Outdoor Activities for 4-Year-Olds
Visit the Park
Outdoor play at this age is freeform and unrestricted. Children are still exploring their mobility, so let them do it in safe outdoor spaces, such as parks. In other words, open nature preserves give kids chances to run around as they discover interesting new plants, rocks, and animals.
Ditch the Plan
At this age, attention spans are all over the place. For example, some kids prefer to mimic their parents or friends by playing sports and joining group activities. At the same time, other children are content to run, hop, and somersault through the day.
So, your job is to accommodate each child's unique play style. Furthermore, let them explore different choices to learn how their decisions affect outcomes. Above all, as the National Association for the Education of Young Children notes, spontaneity is vital to developing flexible thinking.
Constructive Indoor Games for Four Year Olds
Wooden blocks and Play-Doh let children explore size, shape, texture, volume and other critical ideas that inform their expanding worldviews. Of course, toys like cubes and clay don't care if kids get the abstract stuff and neither should you! See how high you can stack things and what new shapes you can create with the materials.
By the way, you should check out these cool building materials for kids. Similarly, don't be afraid to go big and build forts with various materials around the house.
Playing House or Pretend Play
One of the coolest things about Montessori learning is that it lets kids explore grown-up ideas. Furthermore, there are many safe activities for 4-year-olds to do at home accomplish similar ends.
For example, even household chores make fantastic activities to do while spending time together. So, invite the children to join in; children welcome with open arms basic activities like pouring and chopping. You will see that chores can be great learning activities for 4-year-olds and that chores can be fun! For instance, you might try counting scrubbed dishes or pieces of laundry.
Start Having Fun
Keep in mind that sometimes the best thing to do with a child is to simply leave him alone. In other words, you will find that often these moments are the most creative and satisfying to a child. For example, children love to tinker and to create without constraints. However, you must create an environment that enables them to do just that…
Now I m curious, did these things to do with a 4-year-old spark any new ideas? Keep in mind that activities for 4-year-olds are way more fun when they're unrestricted and freeform, so don't feel limited. Use these examples as jumping-off points and go wild.