Age 3 Years

Following are information, activities and resource links for the five main areas of development for children ages 3 years old.

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5 Areas of Development


Communication Skills

  • Understands simple “who, what, where” questions
  • Understands simple prepositions (under, on top,
    behind, in front)
  • Understands number concepts (the rest, all, two)
  • Asks “what” questions frequently
  • Sentence length 3-4 words
  • Can tell a simple story or relate idea to someone

Fine Motor Skills

  • Builds a tower using 6 blocks
  • Screws or unscrews a jar lid or turns door handle
  • Buttons and unbuttons large buttons
  • Completes puzzles with 3-4 pieces

Gross Motor Skills

  • Pedals a tricycle
  • Walks up/down stairs alternating feet
  • Walks backwards
  • Runs, hops and stands on one foot

Personal Social Skills

  • Takes turns while playing-even if they don’t like to
  • Shows concern for crying friend without
  • Understands the idea of “mine” and “his or hers”
  • Child may begin to show fears as experiences in
    the world increase
  • May be potty trained, with day time control
    achieved before night time

Problem Solving Skills

  • Understands what “two” means
  • Starts to show understanding of terms morning,
    night and days of the week
  • Names eight colors
  • Can count 1-10 and starts to count groups of


Communication Activities

  • Talk about pictures in books, ask questions about the
    story, talk about what happened 1st, 2nd, 3rd, last
  • Use cards or household items to sort (clothes,
    animals, dishes, etc.)
  • Play the “why” game: “Why do we …” (eat, wear
    shoes, brush our teeth, etc.)
  • Give your child directions with prepositions (“Put the
    bear on the chair; Put the hat on my head”)
  • Play “dress up” with old clothing and talk about what
    you are doing

Fine Motor Activities

  • Finger paint with shaving cream on shower/tub wall
    or on a large piece of paper adding food coloring.
  • Use household utensils like tongs and tweezers to
    pick up objects
  • Provide scissors and old magazines to practice cutting,
    draw straight and curvy lines for child to cut
  • Trace around simple objects, use cups and blocks of
    various sizes

Gross Motor Activities

  • Dance around the house playing different types of
    music, point out music that is fast and slow
  • Show your child how to move like an elephant, bear,
    crab, rabbit, let child be the leader
  • Use a paper plate to hit a balloon seeing how long
    child can keep in the air, count how many times child
    hits the balloon

Personal Social and Problem Solving Activities

  • Have your child set the table each night at dinner,
    placing utensils at each place to learn one-to-one
  • Put an old blanket over a table and have a “picnic” or
    “campout”, add flashlights for fun
  • Introduce simple board games like Memory and
    Candy Land