Bring books to life with these fun and sensory-rich book activities for kids. There are many ways to enjoy reading books, and pairing them with early learning activities makes it easy! Our book activities are meant to be very hands-on! You won’t find crafts here, but sensory activities will delight any child and make reading fun!

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How to Get Started with Preschool Book Activities

Using books for preschool hands-on activities can be an excellent way to engage young children in interactive learning experiences. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you incorporate books into hands-on activities for preschoolers:

Incorporating science, math, engineering, art, and literacy into preschool hands-on activities using books can provide young kids with an enriching learning experience.

Step By Step Guide to Pairing Books with Activities

STEP 1: Choose a Book with Multidisciplinary Themes: Select a book encompassing multiple themes and concepts related to science, math, engineering, art, and literacy. Look for stories that offer opportunities to explore these subjects in an integrated manner.

STEP 2: Read and Discuss: Read the selected book aloud to the preschoolers. Engage them in discussions about the characters, plot, and themes. Ask open-ended questions that encourage critical thinking and creativity.

STEP 3: Identify Key Concepts: Identify key concepts from the book that can be tied to each subject:

  • Science: Identify natural phenomena, animals, plants, or environmental concepts.
  • Math: Focus on counting, shapes, patterns, and measurements.
  • Engineering: Explore building, problem-solving, and creating structures.
  • Art: Discuss colors, textures, shapes, and creative expressions.
  • Literacy: Emphasize vocabulary, storytelling, and communication skills.

STEP 4: Design Hands-On Activities: Create hands-on activities that integrate science, math, engineering, art, and literacy based on the book’s themes:

  • Science: Set up simple experiments or observations related to the book’s science concepts. For instance, create a weather observation station if the book is about the weather.
  • Math: Count and sort objects from the book, create shape collages, or measure items related to the story.
  • Engineering: Provide building materials (blocks, cardboard, etc.) and encourage children to construct structures inspired by the book.
  • Art: Create art projects that relate to the book’s themes, allowing children to explore different materials and techniques.
  • Literacy: Extend the story by encouraging children to write or dictate their own versions, create storyboards, or act out scenes from the book.

STEP 5: Integrate Activities: Incorporate the hands-on activities into the lesson by connecting them to the book’s concepts. For example, you could read a story about insects and then engage in activities such as making bug sculptures, counting legs on insects, and discussing different types of bugs.

STEP 6: Foster Exploration and Curiosity: Encourage children to explore, ask questions, and experiment during the activities. Provide them with opportunities to collaborate, problem-solve, and express their creativity.

STEP 7: Reflect and Extend Learning: Discuss what the children learned and discovered after each activity. Encourage them to make connections between different subjects. What other activities can you add to extend the learning?

STEP 8: Document and Display: Document children’s work through photos, drawings, and written descriptions. Create a display! Find thrift store picture frames and repaint or use spray paint to create a unique wall gallery.

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Remember that the goal is to foster a love for learning and exploration. Keep the activities age-appropriate, adaptable, and flexible to accommodate different learning styles and abilities.

Benefits of Sensory Play

Sensory play activities, such as sensory tables, sensory bins, glitter bottles, sensory dough, and slime, are always a hit whether you use them as a classroom center or at home! You can also add your favorite preschool books to create a hands-on literacy activity!

There are so many wonderful benefits to sensory play:

  • Practical Life Skills ~ Sensory play lets a child explore, discover and create play using practical life skills (dumping, filling, scooping) and learn valuable play skills.
  • Play Skills {emotional development} ~ For both social and independent play, sensory play allows children to play cooperatively or side by side.
  • Language Development ~ Sensory play increases language development by experiencing all there is to see and do with their hands.  It leads to great conversations and opportunities to model the use of language.
  • Understanding 5 Senses ~Many sensory play bins include a few of the senses! Touch, sight, sounds, taste, and smell are the 5 senses. Children can experience several at a time with a sensory bin.

Imagine a bin of brightly colored rainbow rice: touch the loose grains against the skin, see the vivid colors as they mix together, hear the sound of sprinkling over a plastic container or shaken in a plastic egg! Did you add a scent like vanilla or lavender?

Please do not taste uncooked rice, but there are plenty of sensory play options that you use edible ingredients like our pigs in mud pudding play

25 Book Activities For Preschoolers

Whether you love sensory bins, sensory bottles, sensory dough, or even slime, book activities paired with sensory play are just fun! I am an Amazon Affiliate.

We love to read books daily, and these activities accompanying the story have become a much-anticipated part of our day. What a fantastic way to think and talk about the story you have just read.

Here are 20+ preschool books paired with 20+ hands-on activities covering science, math, engineering, art, and literacy. Use the ideas listed or use the ideas as a springboard for your own activities based on the materials you have available.

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Preschool Book Activities for Science

Book: “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle

Activity: Create a Butterfly Life Cycle Craft. Benefit: Teach about a butterfly’s life cycle, introducing biology and sequencing.

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Butterfly Sensory Bin

Book: “How a Seed Grows” by Helene J. Jordan

Activity: Planting Seeds and Watching Them Grow. Benefit: Introduces the concept of plant life cycles and encourages observation and care.

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Growing Seeds In Egg Shells

Book: “I See a Kookaburra!” by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Activity: Nature Scavenger Hunt. Benefit: Enhances observation skills, fosters animal curiosity, and connects children with nature.

Book: “Rainbow Fish” by Marcus Pfister

Activity: Color Mixing Experiments. Benefit: Introduces color theory and the science behind mixing primary colors to create secondary colors.

Book: “My 5 Senses” by Aliki

Activity: Set up a 5 Senses Discovery Station. Benefit: Teaches kids about the 5 senses, including sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste, and how they interact with the world around us.

Book: “What Makes a Magnet?” by Franklyn M. Branley

Activity: Magnetic Exploration. Benefit: Teaches about the basics of magnetism and engages kids in hands-on experimentation.

Book: “Gravity is a Mystery” by Franklin M Branley

Activity: Play with gravity! Benefit: Teaches about the concept of gravity and the basics of physics.

Preschool Book Activities for Math

Book: “What is Math?” By Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Activity: Make a math mini-book. Benefit: Explore different concepts in math, such as shapes, counting, fractions, and more.

Book: “Ten Black Dots” by Donald Crews

Activity: Counting and Arranging Dot Art. Benefit: Develops counting skills, spatial reasoning, and creative thinking. Also, grab these Black dot themed ten frame sheets!

Book: “Mouse Count” by Ellen Stoll Walsh

Activity: Counting and Sorting with Toy Mice. Benefit: Reinforces counting, introduces basic addition and subtraction concepts, and promotes sorting.

Book: “Shapes, Shapes, Shapes” by Tana Hoban

Activity: Shape painting art. Benefit: Enhances shape recognition, spatial awareness, and fine motor skills.

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Shape Hunt

Book: “If You Were A Plus Sign” by Tisha Sue Speed Shaskan

Activity: Benefit: Introduces basic addition concepts.

Book: “Pattern Fish” by Trudy Harris

Activity: Creating Pattern Necklaces. Benefit: Develop pattern recognition skills, mathematical thinking, and fine motor coordination.

Book: “How Long?” Wacky Ways to Compare Length by Jessica Gunderson

Activity: Compare the lengths of different objects. Benefit: Develop basic observation and measurement skills.

Preschool Book Activities for Engineering

Book: “Rosie Revere, Engineer” by Andrea Beaty

Activity: Build a hovercraft. Benefit: Encourages creativity, problem-solving, and the exploration of basic principles of flight.

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Build A Hovercraft

Book: “The Three Little Pigs” by Steve Guarnaccia

Activity: Build a Strong House for the Pigs. Benefit: Introduces the concept of stability and materials in construction, promoting engineering thinking.

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Book: “Iggy Peck, Architect” by Andrea Beaty

Activity: Build a Structure with Everyday Items. Benefit: Sparks creativity, promotes experimentation, and introduces architectural concepts. Also, try these building activities.

Book: “If I Built a Car” by Chris Van Dusen

Activity: Build a LEGO balloon car. Benefit: Encourages imaginative thinking, design exploration, and fine motor skills.

Book: “Not a Box” by Antoinette Portis

Activity: Create and Transform a “Not a Box” Structure. Benefit: Stimulates creative thinking, problem-solving, and imaginative play.

BONUS: Pumpkin Books with Activities

Preschool Book Activities for Art

Book: “Ish” by Peter H. Reynolds

Activity: Create “Ish” Artwork. Read the book “Ish” aloud to the children. Afterward, have a group discussion about what it means to create art that is “ish.” Provide paper and art supplies, and encourage the children to draw their own “ish” versions of their favorite things or objects from the book.

Benefit: Encourages artistic expression, builds self-confidence, and fosters a positive attitude toward creativity. Download this printable project sheet here.

Book: “Beautiful Oops!” by Barney Saltzberg

Activity: Turn Mistakes into Art!

Idea #1: Rip and Repair Art: Give each child a piece of paper and encourage them to rip or cut a hole in the paper. Provide adhesive tape or glue and colorful pieces of paper. Have the children cover the ripped areas with bright paper, turning the “oops” into a beautiful repair.

Idea #2: Mistake Transformations: Distribute sheets of paper with smudges, spills, or accidental marks. Invite the children to turn these mistakes into intentional drawings or designs. Show them how a simple fall can be transformed into an animal’s body or a cloud’s shape.

Benefit: Promotes resilience, creative problem-solving, and embracing imperfections.

Book: “Mix It Up!” by Hervé Tullet

Activity: Interactive Color Mixing Art. Provide a sensory-rich experience using homemade finger paints, or try ice cube art!

Benefit: Teaches color theory through hands-on exploration and encourages artistic experimentation.

Book: “Press Here” by Hervé Tullet

Activity: Create mixed media dot art. Set up a large piece of paper or a canvas. Provide circular stickers, round sponges, circular objects such as jar lids, paper towel rolls, and plates of paint. Invite the kids to press the stickers onto the paper or canvas and use the circular objects or sponges dipped in paint to do some printmaking.

Benefit: Inspires storytelling and sequencing and encourages tactile and visual exploration.

Book: “Harold and the Purple Crayon” by Crockett Johnson

Activity: Draw Your Own Adventure with a Purple Crayon! Provide kids with a purple crayon and sheets of paper. Encourage them to use their purple crayons to draw their own imaginative adventures, just like Harold. Let them share their stories and drawings with the group afterward.

Benefit: Sparks imaginative storytelling, fine motor skills, and creative thinking.

Each of these activities, paired with a relevant book, provides a well-rounded and engaging learning experience for preschoolers across multiple areas of development.

 More Awesome Preschool Activities

Printable Preschool Bundle Theme Pack

Get ready to explore this year with our growing Preschool STEM Bundle!

What’s Included:

There are 12 fun preschool themes to get you started. This is an ” I can explore” series!

Each unit contains approximately 15 activities, with instructions and templates as needed. Hands-on activities are provided to keep it fun and exciting. This includes sensory bins, experiments, games, and more! Easy supplies keep it low cost and book suggestions add the learning time.