Activities for Teaching Simple Commands to Preschoolers

Preschoolers need to learn simple commands so they can follow directions, obey classroom policies and stay safe. Learning basic commands -- line up, pay attention, listen, clean up, one at a time and find your seat -- will help them develop social skills when interacting with peers and teachers. Games, crafting and safety drills should center on simple classroom guidelines and procedures.

1 Simon Says

Teach your students simple commands by playing a game of "Simon Says." Instruct them to do only what you ask if you say "Simon Says" before you give the directive. Start with simple instructions, such as "Simon Says jump two times" or "Simon Says touch your toes." Progress to commands you want your class to learn for safety or instructional purposes, such as "Simon Says point to the exit sign," "Simon Says face me" or "Simon Says raise your hands." Depending on the season -- or a specific unit you're covering -- you might change "Simon Says" to "Snowman Says," "Spiderman Says" or "Policeman Says," suggests pediatric speech pathologist, Katie Yeh, on her website Playing With Words 365.

2 Follow Me

Help your preschoolers learn to follow simple commands by playing "Follow Me." This activity is especially beneficial at the beginning of the school year when you want preschoolers to learn classroom guidelines and procedures. For example, you might use the activity for a list of directives -- line up at the door, take off your coat, wash hands and get seated for snack time. Incorporate words into the game by saying, "Follow me as we line up" or "Follow me as we wash hands." After students learn to follow simple procedural commands, you might let them take turns being the leader. "Follow Me" also works well when instructing students what to do during fire and tornado drills or evacuations.

3 Colored Lights Game

Use the game "Red Light, Green Light" to help students learn simple terms, such as stop, go, line up or take your seat, suggests Yeh. Ask students to pretend like they're little cars -- speeding isn't allowed so they must walk at an appropriate pace. Start by saying "green light" and instruct them to walk around the room making quiet engine noises. When you say "red light," they must freeze in place. Once they get the idea, add new colors and commands to the game, such as "yellow light" means slow down and find your seat and "purple light" means all eyes forward.

4 Simple Crafts

Help preschoolers learn simple commands by making crafts together as a class. Preschool students need short, direct, specific instructions, and crafting is an easy way to teach those skills. Avoid general terms that are difficult to interpret, such as "cut your paper" or "use glue." Be specific, such as "cut your paper on the dotted line" or "use one drop of glue on your cotton ball." Crafting also is a good time to teach clean-up directives, such as "throw paper scraps in the trashcan" or "put crayons in the tub."

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.