Reasoning Activities for Preschoolers

by Peg Ehlen

"Why?" may echo throughout your home as your preschooler bombards you with questions. Although you may suspect that your preschooler simply wants your attention, Frazier, et al., argue that preschoolers seek rational, not overly detailed answers to their questions. As preschoolers begin to reason, you can help them find their own answers and expand their logical skills through activities requiring predicting, matching, problem solving and experimenting.

Predicting

Predicting future events can develop your preschooler's logical skills, according to Head Start. As you read stories to your preschooler, stop every few pages to ask your own questions. What do you think Nemo will do next? What will happen if Snow White takes a bite of the apple? How will Ariel find the baby seal?

Matching

Many games encourage preschoolers to practice matching and classifying skills. Preschoolers may enjoy iPhone or iPad apps, such as Monkey Preschool Lunchbox. In this activity, they can match pairs of fruit or find the fruit that appears different from the rest. Online games from PBS, including Curious George, encourage these same cognitive skills. In Everything Must Go, a preschooler can sort objects, then place them in the clothes hamper, toy box or book cart. Low-tech activities include matching card games, such as Go Fish, Animal Rummy and War. As preschoolers' minds develop, they can classify objects with two or more features. For example, younger preschoolers may classify playing cards as red or black, whereas older ones may simultaneously perceive shapes, distinguishing red hearts from red diamonds.

Problem Solving

Problem solving activities may include games and everyday events. PBS offers games such as Puppy Dreams, requiring preschoolers to examine pictures and guess the thoughts of Clifford, the big red dog. Similarly, a simple event may require your preschooler to use problem-solving tools. Imagine that your preschooler asks, "Why did my kitty scratch me?" Instead of offering an immediate answer, you could turn the event into an activity. PBS suggests that preschoolers may want to show you what happened by drawing a picture or creating a clay model. Most importantly, preschoolers need to feel that their ideas have value as you explore the problem together.

Experimenting

Naturally curious, preschoolers may develop their reasoning skills by using the scientific method. For example, they may wonder how beans grow and offer a guess, a hypothesis. With Jack and the Beanstalk in mind, who knows what they might say? With your help, they could plant bean seeds, place some in the sun and others in the shade, offering daily sprinkling only to those in the sun. As they gather data, preschoolers can observe the consequences. Preschoolers may enjoy experimenting, finding cause-effect relationships in nature and developing their reasoning skills.

With dual degrees in English and learning disabilities, Peg Ehlen has been a full-time English professor most of her life. In addition, she has directed disability services for post-secondary students. Her publications reflect her experience in these fields and her knowledge of psychology, parenting and juvenile diabetes.

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