What are the key skills that preschoolers are taking home from child-led play?

Preschool is an exciting fun time for young children and their parents! It’s that age where children are eager to learn about the world around them and take in new skills. Here are the key skills children are taking home from the play experiences of; modelling clay, water play, cooking and painting crafts.

Modelling Clay

• Children learn about shapes: Shapes can be learned from different cookie cutter shapes.

• Imagination: Children are eager to imagine the different creatures they build with modelling clay such as a flying dog or a purple snake. This encourages children to formulate their own ideas and descriptions.

• Motor skill development: As children knead the modelling clay and use the rolling pins, and cookie cutters to press down shapes, they are strengthening their hands which contributes to developing their muscles to later prepare them for writing.

Water Play

• Measuring: Children are learning what is a full cup, half full cup, a spoon full, a bucket full etc.

• Problem solving: Children are learning to react to scenarios such as what to do when the water is dripping, how to clean up water, how to stop the water from spilling, how much water a container can hold.

• Social cooperation: As children play in organised water play stations they learn to negotiate, as they wait for their turn, lining up to use the pitchers, watering cans, containers. They also learn sharing as they play amongst other children by the water play station. They learn to cooperate as they work together with other children to help clean the water station or keep the water from spilling or splashing.


• Mathematical concepts: Children are learning how to count the number of teaspoons, timing how long the baking time will be, measuring using spoons or cups.

• Following instructions: Children are taught how to be safe in the kitchen by the preschool educators, as they are guided how to use the equipment safely. They are also learning how to care for the equipment in the process.

• Science concepts: As the children are exposed to different foods in the kitchen, they grasp concepts of which foods are healthy for their bodies. They also learn about liquids, solids and textures.

Painting Crafts

• Creativity: Children learn to be creative through the use of varied materials such as brushes, sponges, and their hands for painting.

• Self expression: Children develop an understanding of how to express their thoughts through shapes, brush strokes, colours, letters and drawings.

• Cleaning up: Children are taught self help clean up skills such as putting away their art smock, washing their paint brushes, washing their hands with soap and water and putting their artwork in the appropriate place to dry.

Overall, preschool child-led play is indeed full of learning! Skills are being gained and taught everyday at preschool. That’s why play experiences need to be well thought out and supported by Parents and Educators.

Written by Nicole Yaneza.
Nicole is an Early Childhood Educator