Children's Games for 3- to 5-Year-Olds

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Children's play is important for developing social skills and eye-hand coordination, learning math concepts, using their imaginations, developing language and enjoying new experiences, according to the California Department of Health Services website. Children from 3 to 5 are particularly interested in playing with other kids, according to the KidsHealth website. They enjoy playing games at birthday parties, holiday events, picnics or whenever they get together with friends.

Hide the Clock

Most preschoolers enjoy playing hide and seek, but if you don't want to risk small children getting lost, try hiding an object such as a clock or timer instead. Wind it up, and set the alarm. Tell the children they must find the clock before the alarm goes off. They can hunt for it by listening for the ticking sound. If they can't hear it, you can give clues and let them know if they're getting closer to or farther from the clock. Hide the Clock helps children develop listening, problem solving and reasoning skills.

Zoo Animal Toss

Gather a supply of stuffed zoo animals. Make a cage with a clean, empty birdcage, a box decorated to look like a cage at the zoo or an open-top laundry basket. Have each child stand behind a line approximately 5 feet from the cage and take a turn tossing stuffed animals into the cage. Give each child as many chances as he needs to get three animals into the cage. The Zoo Animal Toss helps develop eye-hand coordination.

Hot Potato

You'll need at least five children to play this version of Hot Potato, and the more the merrier. Have the children stand in a circle. Place a medium playground ball in the center of the circle, and have one child be "it." The ball is the hot potato, and the child who is "it" tries to push the ball outside of the circle with her feet while the children in the circle try to keep the ball in the circle with their feet. The children are not allowed to touch the ball with their hands. When "it" gets the ball out of the circle, someone else is "it" and goes into the center of the circle to play the game again. Hot Potato helps develop gross motor skills.

Balloon Tap

Give each child an air-filled round balloon. When you say "Go," all the children throw their balloons into the air and tap underneath the balloons to keep them from falling to the floor. If the children know how to count, have them count the number of times they tap the balloon to keep them from falling to the floor. If they don't know how to count, have an adult or older child help them with counting. Balloon Tap helps develop eye-hand coordination and math skills.