Toddlers & Pre-Schoolers

Kyelaya R. from the United States is an au pair in New Zealand.
Kyelaya R. from the United States is an au pair in New Zealand.
Photo courtesy of InterExchange

Younger children enjoy singing and games that allow them to move and run. Teach them children’s songs and games from the U.S. or learn some fun songs from your new host country. Below are examples of popular songs, finger plays, and games for toddlers and preschoolers.  


  • “If You’re Happy and You Know It…” (Examples: clap your hands, stomp your feet, blow a kiss, jump up and down)
  • “Hokey Pokey” (Put your left hand in and out, right hand in and out…)
  • “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” (Find out if animals make different sounds in your host country!)

Finger Plays

  • Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes
  • Duck, Duck, Goose (small group needed)
  • The Name Game


  • Chicken Soup and Rice
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon
  • Goodnight Moon

Simple War Card Game

You can take the ace and other top cards out of a deck and play War with the child. Deal out all of the cards, then each player turns over a card. The person with the highest card gets to take both cards. You can play this game with the children even before they recognize numerals. You can show children how to count the symbols on each card. They will visually see that two diamonds is less than four spades. As they count the symbols, verbalize what is shown. “I have two, you have four. You win.”

Look for a certain color of objects in a room.

Make a Fort

Take one or two bed sheets and drape them over dining room chairs. Take a flashlight, snacks and toys inside and let children “camp out” all morning. Feel free to furnish the fort with additional pillows and blankets.

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
The International Coalition for Global Education and Exchange
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation