Sunday, November 13, 2011

Preschool Activity Swap - such a mom thing to do!

I organized a preschool activity swap for a preschool homeschool cooperative I am a part of here. We basically take turns teaching a lesson to the kids every other week or so and do some cool field trips as well. It went so well we are already working on our next one! So many of my friends have asked me for these and so here are the activities from the first swap:

1. Cookie Matching - This one was made with circles of felt hot-glued with cotton in the center for flipping them more easily. The mom that made them provided some awesome extension activities. There might be a simpler way to make this by using heavy weight interfacing ironed onto felt but these came out perfect. 

Shown here with my own cookie sheet and spatula. 

Lilly (12 months) loves to take these out of the red container and put them back and to inspect the toppings. 

 2. Lego Math - Just print on cardstock and provide a sheet protector. these have been so much fun for us. Ava has some trouble with the subtraction but not with the addition and they are really fun to use with your real Legos.

3. Emotion Play Dough Mat - Print in color and laminate. We have had so much fun making angry and scary faces for this poor girl.

 4. I-Spy Bag - Simple I-Spy bag with card. I did do coins to make it a little more academic. This is a huge pain to sew and if I did it again I would use fleece instead of felt. Also I used painters tape to tape the window in and then sewed through the tape and that made all the difference. I-Spy bags are much easier than jars because you can manipulate them with your hands. However if no one sews or is crazy like me then you could do this in clear plastic bottles or glass jars. 

5. Pom-Pom Magnets and Boards - These pom pom magnet activities are all over the internet so this starter set it nice to build on. You just put your cardstock mat on a cookie sheet when ready to play. Use hot glue to adhere the magnets and remove any paper backing from the magnets before gluing.

6. Consonant, Short Vowel, and Long Vowel Cards

7. Read, Build and Write Mats with sets Word Cards - 

I think if I did this one again I would make it worth 3 and have the main mat laminated, sometimes the sheet protector slips on us. We also use magnetic letters at home on a cookie sheet instead of the letters provided. 

9. Felt Board Skeleton - I did this one and we love it, but I don't know if I would recommend it for a swap. Only because if took hours and hours to cut these out and it doesn't take any less time to cut one out than it does to cut lots. We swapped in October though so I thought skeletons would be fun and we love felt board activities. I am showing them here with some word cards and a skeleton print out which I didn't give with the activity but it might have been nice. The kids aren't ready to read those words yet but some of the parents needed some help remembering the bones! 

10. Roll A Rainbow - This was laminated and given with m & m's and a die.

11. Shades of Color - Walmart is the only place we found that had enough shades of one color on a strip.

12. Play-Dough Number Mats - The moms that printed these just had to provide one sheet protector but we bound ours like this so Ava could easily just work through all the numbers and letters on her own.

13. Play Dough ABC Mats - There was the direction here to print these in color but the mom that did this one had them professionally printed in black and white on cardstock and they turned out very well so that may be an option if you want to make these mats worth only two activity choices. Printing 8 sets in color and on cardstock can really add up.

14. Fabric Roads - These denim roads have been a huge hit in our house. That might be because we don't have any other car tracks but Ava loves making a track for cars with these. There are lots of learning extensions as well like talking about directions of cars, setting up traffic lights etc. I am planning to make her more.

15. Felt Pizza - This one was me again. I had made these Pizzas for Ava and she loved them so I made this small set for the group. This was time consuming and so I didn't provide lots of toppings but it would be pretty easy for anyone that wanted to create more toppings. The crust is two circles sewn together with a small opening, then flipped inside out, and sewn again just inside the edge in order to catch the opening needed to flip it. I think everything else is pretty self-explanatory. These are just for play but they are also great for teaching fractions too (i.e. "Put cheese on half the pizza").

 This is a photo of Ava's big set at home with a cut pizza and more toppings. 

Ava is fascinated with the color wheel side. I can hear her singing "red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple it's a rainbow!" right now ;)

Notes on organizing - I ended up with one master list that everyone chose off of. I came up with almost all of the activities this time but next time we are going to do some suggesting but still have one master control list. The real challenge is always getting everyone on board with what makes a good swap activity and what really doesn't. For example, providing the ingredients for homemade play-dough is fun but that is pretty easy to whip up on your own. The point of the swap is to spend time pulling together materials that if you did one of each would be very time consuming but since you are doing several (in our case 8) then it cuts your time down and in the end you have a whole bunch of great activities. The other thing is talking to the group about quality, including printing on cardstock, in color, taking the extra step of getting some things laminated instead of just proving a sheet protector etc. We have some crafty and non-crafty members so there are a mix of things you can just take to Office Depot and pay for and things that took a considerable amount of time to make. I figured if everyone did about $30 or so worth of printing or 10ish hours of work or some combination of that then we were fair. So everyone had to pick three but some activities were worth three (like the play dough mats for example) and some were worth two like the magnets pom poms. If you aren't familiar with how much printing in color on cardstock at home or at an office store is then you might want to check that before organizing something like this. I think some of the moms that picked the 'easy' printing activities were surprised by the cost. 

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