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Some of the best educational activities for young children are group activities. Children can have a lot of fun learning from and with each other. If you have a young child (ages 3-5), your child may already be meeting with a group of other children for play dates. If you host play dates at your house regularly, you may be wondering what kind of fun and educational activities you can incorporate into the play dates. Here are a few activity ideas to help you out:

1. Letter and Sound Discovery Game
For this game, you need to fill a large plastic storage bin up with sand and plastic lowercase and uppercase letters. As you’re filling the bin up with sand, make sure you cover up all the lowercase and uppercase letters. You’ll also need to purchase some cat litter scoopers for this game. Kids will use the scoopers to search for letters in the sand. When they find a letter, they have to hold it up and say what letter it is and what sound it makes. If they can correctly identify the letter and what sound it makes, they get to keep the letter. If they can’t correctly identify the letter and what sound it makes, you can help them out, and they have to put the letter back in the sand. The child with the most plastic letters at the end of the game wins.

2. Ring Toss Count
You’ll need the supplies to play ring toss in order to play this game. The game works just like ordinary ring toss, for the most part. The twist is that the kids have to count each of the rings that they successfully get to land around a post or cone. If they accidentally miscount, they have to take the ring off the post or cone and try again.

3. Make a Mural with Finger-Paint
You’ll need a large sheet of bulletin board paper and some finger-paints for this activity. Lay the large sheet of bulletin board paper down outside, and let the kids paint a mural together using finger-paints. Be sure to ask the kids what colors they’re using as they paint the mural. This is a great way to re-enforce their knowledge of color names. And this activity is a wonderful way for kids to express themselves creatively and develop artistic skills.

These are just some of the many educational activities you can try out with young kids on play dates. The opportunities for fun and learning are practically endless. So, don’t be afraid to get creative!

Author’s Bio: Melissa is a mom and guest blogger on the subjects of early childhood education, event planning, and where to find the best Super Mario Bros party supplies.

Image courtesy of SanShoot via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want to put on educational play dates.