With the weather turning cold and the holiday season approaching, I would be remiss not to share some hot cocoa preschool activities for you to use in your preschool this winter. This hot cocoa dominos game is a wonderful free printable, and this post includes five additional ways it can be used!
Hot Cocoa Learning Activities for Preschoolers
Winter is not my favorite season, but I admit I am drawn to all the stoic wintertime visions that come to mind.
You know the ones I’m talking about. Beautiful sparkly winter landscapes in the woods…warm fires in a wood-stoked fireplace during family dinners…cities lit up in the night with colorful Christmas lights. You know, the Norman Rockwell and Thomas Kinkade winter scenes.
We all loves those scenes, right? But we all know that’s not what it looks like with kids, and certainly not in a preschool setting.
That being said, I do love to offer my preschoolers all the simple joys of the winter and holiday seasons, which is one reason why we do hot cocoa activities. Have you ever met a preschooler who doesn’t love hot chocolate ?
No? Me neither.
As a general rule of thumb, we play outside every day in my preschool. Even when it’s cold, and especially if there’s snow on the ground. Sometimes that means we come back in with red cheeks and icy hands, so I can’t help but make my preschoolers some hot cocoa to warm up.
Winters here can be long and joyless since we don’t actually get a huge amount of snow, so I like to do this for my preschoolers whenever the opportunity arises.
And what better way to extend the enjoyment of said hot cocoa than with some hot cocoa activities for preschool?
This post includes a free printable hot cocoa themed dominos game, but be sure to read all the way to the end of the post to see five more ways I use this same printable in my preschool classroom!
FAQ About Why Teaching Games is Important for Preschoolers
Playing games with your preschooler is more than just a special bonding time. Playing games has huge benefits! Here are some benefits of playing games with your young learners. They can:
~ offer multiple opportunities for learning.
~ get kids to think critically.
~ encourage oral language development.
~ help your child focus and lengthen their attention span.
~ teach teamwork and inclusiveness.
~ provide a fun way of connecting and bonding.
~ help navigate new friendships.
~ ease social anxiety.
~ teach kids how to be a good loser.
Many young children are a little apprehensive when put in situations that require peer interaction. Games are a fantastic way to ease that anxiety.
“Because they’re structured, board games can provide an easier way to build interpersonal relationships with peers, since the child knows what’s expected of them,” explains Regine Galanti, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and professor at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology.
Additionally, games can also teach children inclusion, tolerance, cooperation, and resilience when working with others.
Teachers are increasing the use of game and game principals to enhance their instruction. Reason being is that research sites that using games can increase student participation, foster social development, and amplify emotional learning.
Studies have also found that games can improve focus and attention, as well as improve spatial and temporal attention. This can result in higher reading levels.
Games are not a replacement for other forms of learning. They are a tool that can be used in education, but they need to be well-planned and only used when they are relevant to the learning objectives.
Hot Cocoa Dominos with FREE Printable
What I’m loving about these hot cocoa activities is that you can use them not only during your Christmas theme, but also all winter long. They will add some chocolatey fun to your winter theme! (Or if you’re like me and you’re a hot cocoa connoisseur, then you might use them year round. Ha, ha!)
- Free hot cocoa dominos printable
Print the hot cocoa dominos on heavy card stock and laminate for added durability. Cut apart the dominoes cards, mix them up, and place them in a pile.
Then invite your preschoolers to join you in a game!
How to Play Dominos
Start by dealing the appropriate number of dominos to each player. This is how I do that for my preschoolers:
- 2 players = 5 cards each
- 3-4 players = 4 cards each
The remainder of the dominos are placed face down in a draw pile.
In a traditional game of dominos, you don’t let others see what pieces are in your hand. But for preschool, I ask my preschoolers to place their cards face up so I can help them play the game.
Choose a player to go first. To start the game they must choose a card from their hand to place in the playing field. Do not start with a card that has the same color of hot cocoa on both ends.
The next player must then add a card from their hand by finding a matching colored hot cocoa and placing it next to the starting piece.
Players may only add one domino per turn. If the player has no matching dominos that match an open end, they must draw a card from the draw pile. If the new card cannot be played, that player’s turn is over.
If the new card can be played, then it must be played at that time. (Note: if there are no cards left in the draw pile, then the player’s turn ends without drawing a new card).
Extra Notes on Playing Dominos with Preschoolers
In a traditional game of dominos, pieces must be placed end-to-end unless it’s a double piece with the same count or image on each side. In that case, it can be placed sideways, opening up new ends for play.
I don’t worry about this when playing with my preschoolers.
When I play with my preschoolers, I allow them to place their cards in any direction as long as they are making the match.
Visual Discrimination skills related to Dominos and other activities
Dominos are a good way to introduce visual discrimination activities. Visual discrimination is the capability of recognizing details in visual images.
Visual discrimination skills are important for a variety of reasons but I would specifically like to speak to their benefit in reading and writing.
When children have strong visual discrimination skills, they can typically identify differences and similarities in letters such as b and d. We all know how tricky these letters can be!
When we teach visual discrimination skills, we are teaching kids to pay attention to details.
Games like these hot cocoa dominos, match games, sorting games, etc. all offer hands on activities that help build and practice these vital visual discrimination skills
Other Hot Cocoa Activities using this Printable
If you know me, you know I love a printable that can be used in many different ways. It saves me time and money in printing, but more importantly, it allows me to differentiate for my students.
Here are five more learning activities using this hot cocoa printable.
- Use these dominos as color matching cards. Use one-inch colored blocks (or another small-ish manipulative) to match to each side of the card.
- For younger preschoolers or toddlers, do #1 above and then ask, “Are they the same?” Being able to differentiate between matching colors or objects is an important math skill.
- Add a fine motor element by offering tweezers and pom poms and using these cards as color matching cards.
- Take a handful of pieces and hide them around the room for your preschoolers to find. Once found, invite your preschoolers to find as many items or toys as possible that match BOTH colors on the card.
- Add these cards to a colorful sensory bin. As preschoolers pull out the pieces they can attempt to match them in different ways. You can also offer sensory play in a bin full of wintery white cotton balls, which will make the colors of the dominos pop!
Grab Your Free Hot Cocoa Preschool Printable Here
Think these hot chocolate games are something that would compliment your winter or Christmas preschool theme? Grab your free printable by clicking the image below.
Then keep reading for even more winter and Christmas activities for preschoolers!
I hope you have time to enjoy many warm soul-soothing mugs of hot cocoa this winter! Along with that, I hope you find that these hot cocoa dominos become a fun part of your winter activities for your preschoolers.
The more you play this with your little ones, the more you may notice that they are developing their visual discrimination skills, both in the game and in other areas of their lives. I definitely hope you enjoy some chocolatey cocoa together as you play…and don’t forget the marshmallows!
Looking for More Christmas Printables?
My preschoolers loved these. And bonus: they’re free!
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I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.