Books, books, books, and more books! High-quality children’s books are full of amazing learning opportunities, including vocabulary exposure, language development, and of course the love of reading! These children’s book activities are perfect for any time of the year.
You’ll find 16 activities of all kinds–designed especially for a children’s book preschool theme–bundled up in a tidy and FREE preschool lesson plans download at the end of this post.
Picture Book Activities for Best-Loved Children’s Books
I have always been somewhat of a book hoarder. Mostly children’s picture books…I know, it’s a problem.
There’s something so amazing about having the perfect book for the perfect lesson within arm’s reach. Or reading those same favorites year after year and knowing that their little faces will light up just like all the previous students who fell in love with the hysterical or silly stories.
My 4-year-old son has become a “book guy” (as he defines it) just like me. He can’t go to the library without trying to put every book that seems remotely interesting into the checkout bag, and he asks for a new story from our home library every night.
And it makes me ECSTATIC.
I want him to grow as a reader and love all the magic and mystery that great authors weave into their stories. I am so blown away by his vocabulary, by his constant questioning (we are definitely in the WHY phase) of the world around him, by his curiosity about sharks, and by his love for Pete the Cat.
But mostly, I’m most excited for him to one day lose himself in a lengthy series or a favorite book that will remain with him for years.
That’s why this preschool theme is my ABSOLUTE favorite to teach. I love using books as a springboard for all the fun learning that awaits.
Learn how to make the most of reading books with your toddler here:
>>> Must Read Picture Books for Toddlers <<<
FAQ About Using Picture Book Activities for Teaching Preschoolers
Preschoolers adore books of all kinds: funny, serious, factual, and everything in between. Young toddlers enjoy books with lots of rhyme and repetition. They enjoy predictable text and love to participate in the rhythm of the story. Preschoolers enjoy books with a bit more “meat” and love to use the illustrations to help them uncover the meaning of the text.
Choose books that are well-known and written by familiar authors. Award-winning books that have earned a Caldecott or other awards are a great place to start as well. Don’t forget to seek out ideas from your preschoolers! Learn their interests and snag some great books that will feed into their curiosities and excitement.
Check out all my tips for choosing picture books here:
>>> Tips for Choosing Out Picture Books for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Although there are plenty of tried and true favorite children’s books, there are so many amazing new texts published every year that are relevant and wonderful for preschoolers. The NY Times has an updated list of the current bestselling children’s books. You can find that list here.
Hands-on Preschool Activities for Favorite Children’s Books
Learning through favorite children’s books invites you to connect the text(s) with hands-on fun and learning. Here are some popular activities to keep with your favorite children’s book lesson plans.
Literacy Activities for a Favorite Children’s Books Theme
Rhyme Time – After reading “Stand Back,” said the Elephant, “I’m going to Sneeze” by Patricia Thomas, chat with your preschooler about the rhyming words in the story. This is a great story for introducing rhyming fun and practicing a simple rhyming game. Print these cards and begin with just a few pairs. Use this silly sentence starter to help gain interest and fun in the game: “Did you ever see the moon using a spoon?” After practicing for a bit, encourage your child to match the rhyming pairs they already know. Then introduce the next set!
Reading our Colors – After reading Pete the Cat, I Love my White Shoes by Eric Litwin, talk about the fantastic lesson in this story: to go with the flow and not get bothered by the little things. Now it’s time to re-tell the story. Print this emergent reader, cut it apart, and staple together. Time to color the shoes to match the story and re-tell!
Don’t Forget These Children’s Books
It’s definitely hard to choose picture books for any preschool theme…there are just that many amazing books. Here are some favorites that are a little less known, but just as fantastic.
Math and Science Activities for a Favorite Children’s Books Theme
Math Crumbs Board Game – Using the book This House Needs a Mouse by Jeffrey Nunnally, create this clever math game. Draw four rooms on a piece of paper, grab a die, and grab as many crumbs (pom-poms) as possible! Use clothespins for added fine motor work! This fun game encourages imagination and builds number sense as you play along.
Color Mixing Magic – Using the book Mouse Paint by Ellen Walsh, use paint or playdough to mix up some primary colors of your own! Encourage your preschooler to mix colors beyond the primary colors and make predictions about what new color it will create.
Oobleck Science Sensory Play – After listening to Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss, it’s time to make your own! Oobleck is made of cornstarch and water and makes for wonderful sensory play. Simply add a mixture of about 1.5 cups of cornstarch to 1 cup of water. Mix together and watch the oobleck magic happen. This sensory experiment creates an amazing result; not a liquid and also not a solid, this “goo” is truly mesmerizing!
Don’t Forget Writing and Books Go Hand-in-Hand
There is a strong correlation between reading and writing, so be sure to create some fun at the writing center. These are some things I always have on hand.
Playful Learning Activities for a Favorite Children’s Books Theme
Number Matching Paper Cups – Practice number recognition with this fun and easy activity. Simply write numbers on cups and then match them to the corresponding dots. A great indoor activity for busting boredom! Stack them in order, line them up, sneak counters or snacks underneath…the options with this activity are endless!
Playdough Name Prints – Using magnetic letters or alphabet stamps, roll out some playdough and set out all the letters in your preschooler’s name. Write their name on a card and have them stamp the letters of their name in order into the playdough.
Bubble Pop – Tape leftover bubble wrap from packages onto the floor and let your preschooler pop it with their fingers or stomp on it. You can also roll it into paint and paint bubble pictures with it! Use it for stress relief or for a much-needed calm down time.
Social-Emotional Activities for a Favorite Children’s Books Theme
“It’s All Good” – Reread Pete the Cat, I Love my White Shoes by Eric Litwin. Talk about the fantastic lesson in this story: to go with the flow and not become too bothered by the little things. Chat with your preschooler about the difference between a big problem and a small problem. Make a list of things that might be big or small problems. How would they handle these kinds of problems in real life? What choices would they make if they were feeling angry, sad, or frustrated?
Being “You”nique– Go to YouTube and listen to the book Elmer by David McKee. Discuss with your preschooler why Elmer wanted to change into a typical gray elephant. Print out an elephant coloring page from the internet and grab some colorful tissue paper. Invite your preschooler to cut out squares to make their own patchwork elephant. While working on glueing and cutting, talk about the important lessons of acceptance, diversity, and friendship. Remind your preschooler that they are exactly who they are meant to be!
Just Plain Fun Activities for a Favorite Children’s Books Theme
Llama Llama Red Pajama – Why not spend the day in your PJs just like Llama llama? Cuddle up with some classic reads like Llama Llama Red Pajama, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Invite your preschooler to vote on their favorite story.
Wacky Wednesday – Read Wacky Wednesday by Dr. Seuss and find the wacky things in the picture that just don’t belong! What does the word wacky mean? Invite your preschooler to draw a simple picture and add in some wacky drawings or magazine cutouts.
Get Online Activities for a Favorite Children’s Book Theme
Grumpy Monkey Story – Listen to the story Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang. After reading, discuss with your preschooler how Jim said that he needed to be grumpy. What does that mean? Is it okay to be grumpy? Invite your preschooler to draw a grumpy face on a different animal.
Animated Goodnight Moon Story – A timeless tale brought to life with animation and music. It’s a must-read at bedtime or anytime!
My No, No, No, Day – Check out My No, No, No Day by Rebecca Patterson on YouTube. This important tale models a glimpse into a hard day of a young child. Bad days happen but there is always a chance to start fresh!
Get Your FREE Favorite Children’s Book Lesson Plans Here
Want to include these favorite children’s book activities in your lesson plans? No problem. I’ve made a printable for you. Just click the image below.
Looking For More FREE Preschool Lesson Plans?
Looking for more free preschool lesson plans? Try all the preschool themes included in my Learn At Home Preschool Lesson Plans Collection.
New activity sets are rolled out weekly. Themes include everything from apples, spring, and bugs & butterflies to 1st Week of School, Family & Pets, and now…Fire Safety Preschool Lesson Plans!
Be sure to subscribe to keep up with the latest set of activities and have them automatically emailed to you when they’re ready.
To find all my Learn at Home Preschool lesson plans, see here:
>>> LEARN AT HOME PRESCHOOL LESSON PLAN COLLECTION <<<
In total, I will have 40+ sets of free preschool lesson plans (that can easily be used for homeschool preschool or in the classroom) by the end of the school year. Seriously, make sure you have subscribed so that you don’t miss a week of free lesson plans!
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.