My new favorite thing is setting up options for our Center/Work Station time at preschool. I love it. It is fun and very inspiring for both the kids...and for ME as a teacher. I hope your find something to enjoy with the preschoolers in your life!
My preschoolers just finished up a week where we had a post office in our school. It seemed like a perfect transition to set up a Center for Halloween Card-making. I put out a TON of stickers, some orange construction paper cards, and a "coffin" for sticker backs.
*Money Saving Tip: I bought all of these stickers last year the week after Halloween and saved them for this year. I plan to do the same again this November :) I also used a Melissa and Doug toy bin to hold all the stickers for this station-which works great!
The kids at my preschool can draw or do art any time during our hour-long choice time. They are wonderful at creating all kinds of pictures on their own! But, I thought it might be fun for them (and a chance to work on fine motor development with "coloring" instead of scribbling) by getting us these special Halloween coloring books :) They had them at the dollar store last year!
I set up this invitation to play in a very large, shallow storage bin. It is a great size for two or three preschoolers to use together. I set up the bin and then put out a bunch of our Little People Farm toys (tractors, animals, produce bins, etc).
I discovered that the Little People Farm accessories could fit in the tops of toilet paper rolls...so I used those to divide the bin into a dirt section and a cracked corn section. I just hot glued the tubes together. I also stuck some bird-seed in some bowls.
We raise chickens at my preschool so I used their food-grade cracked corn in this bin...that way any dirt or corn can just be put out in our yard at the end of the week for the chickens to munch on! Easy clean-up. I also picked to put this on our wood floor and it took me about 30 seconds to sweep up the tiny bit of corn that spilled over the edge.
The kids at my school commented that this was their FAVORITE center choice from all year :) And what I loved most what that aside from the mini pumpkins, I didn't have to buy anything. It all came from our yard, or our toy bins!
Who doesn't love play-dough!? We have a bunch of Halloween cookie cutters out for exploration and play with our dough for Halloween week :) This is great for fine motor, but also works on sharing and taking turns in larger groups.
Another great way to work on fine motor development! The kids can make bracelets for themselves or to give to friends :)
One thing I do to keep myself from going crazy is to pre-cut a bunch of string and put tape on the end so the kids can do their beading independently. Then they only need help at the end when they are ready to tie it!
Which is heavier? What a great question to explore freely for preschoolers. A balance is a fun tool for kids to use and if you put out a bunch of pumpkins and gourds they can explore it with Fall/Halloween objects!
The kids at my school really, really enjoyed exploring at this center! I put out a bin with smaller, "toy" fall objects, and another bin with real pumpkins and gourds.
Silly Monster Cheese Balls!
Oh My Gosh! These were the funniest little snacks ever. And my kids adored them. They turned them into puppets, made them chat to each-other, and then eventually smashed them onto crackers to eat :)
First, and Most Importantly:
I got this idea HERE, on Hungry Happenings. If you want to try them, click over to her blog for directions :) Hers are much cuter, probably made with more time and care. But, it did work to make them at preschool for a large group of kids...and even if they were a little rushed they still turned out great!
Also, I made some changes that helped me out:
Change #1: I bought little candy eyeballs at Micheals, in the cake decorating area. This way I just got to stick them on. Easy!
Change #2: I left out the bacon due to vegetarian kiddos at my school, and they were still super yummy on crackers. Can you tell we had fun with them!?
Here are some age-approprate Safety Theme ideas, great for preschool or at home:
Phone Number Practice/Communication Center
I like to work on phone numbers with my preschoolers. We made little ID Cards this year (I printed and laminated them) with a photo, address, and phone number just like a mini drivers license. The kids really enjoyed using these and got to take them home at the end of the week. We used them at our Communication Center. I gathered a bunch of old phones, put out some notebooks, and an old adding machine....and let the kids make emergency calls. My older fours and fives really did work on dialing actual phone numbers from the ID Cards. This was a cute, creative, and imaginative center that promoted "safety play" and phone number practice all in one!
The kids also worked on writing numbers and "information" down in our notebooks-great practice for any kids who are ready for that!
Another great thing is how social the communication center can be. The kids are having such in-depth conversations with each-other :)
Address Practice/Preschool Post Office
I set up a Post Office in my preschool, and it was used all day every day for our entire Safety Week. The kids got to work on their own address, on name recognition/writing of their friends (and themselves) as well as learn the mail process. I wrote a post about how I set it up HERE.
What I loved the most was how versatile this was across ages. My young kids drew pictures, put them in envelopes and stamped it...and I helped write names. My older kids sounded out words and added those to their pictures, and were able to address the envelopes themselves using our laminated photo/name sheets!
Safety Drills/Safety Plans
Safety Drills are required in my state. We learn the routine in October, and practice Fire and Earthquake Drills. At school this is mostly learning to stop what we are doing, put on shoes, and walk out the door in a quiet line for a fire drill, or to stop what we are doing and get underneath our large project table and cover our heads for an earthquake drill. I always recommend to parents to do the following at home: locate smoke detectors, listen to the sound they make, and set up a fire/earthquake routine for home (and practice it). It doesn't need to be scary at all, just practicing a routine to be safe :)
Firetruck Craft Project
There are all sorts of fun ways to make paper firetrucks. My preschoolers just finished shape week, so I decided to use shapes as our guide for making these cute trucks! We had circle wheels, large rectangle trucks, skinny rectangle ladders, and a square window. Relating to prior learning is always a great idea :)
Safety Play Activities
If you are a fan of Little People, you might have these in your play bins already like we did. I just dug out the Fire Station, and all the safety vehicles and people. I love the little fire dog!
Our Public Library has Preschool Kits available for checkout. Inside the Community Helpers kit were puppets and felt board people :) This was a great, and free, addition to our Safety Week play.
You can see the puppets a little better here-and that the kids always make up their own wonderful activities! This sweet gal matched up our cars to the puppets!
I am a HUGE fan of Melissa and Doug toys. They last so much longer than plastic toys, and are always fun for playing in a way that promotes early childhood skill building. Here we have their puzzle vehicles and their Whittle World fire truck set.
More Melissa and Doug sets! We have their Whittle World community building set, as well as their safety car and traffic signs sets. What I really love is that these are compatible with our wooden trains, so we can use them together :)
These wooden firetrucks and safety guys were a new brand to our school this year. They are part of Plan Toys, and I really really like them. They remind me a lot of Melissa and Doug.
These are just matchbox cars. We have a mail truck, a bus, a police car, a fire truck, an ambulance, and a "fast car". I added our Fall trees to the set and some traffic signs/cones and together they all made a great safety activity.
I have used the Melissa and Doug dress up outfits for four years now and they still look brand new :) Together with our doctor kits and fire hats, we were able to play all sorts of imaginative, role-play, and community helper themed games.
Each year at my preschool we work on learning our addresses. It is one of my safety goals :) I try to help the kids understand what an "address" is, and when we might use it. A fun way to expose the kids is to set up a post office in your school! Super fun and super cute!
Read Some Good Books!
I think it is a good idea to do a whole group project and discuss both the terms: address and post office. We enjoyed the book Jobs People Do by Christopher Maynard because it had a Mail Carrier page!
Make Preschool "ID Cards"
I made the kids at my school "ID cards" with their photo, name, phone number, and address :) I printed and laminated them so they looked like little drivers licenses. We will use them all week. Together we read their address as they looked at it on their ID card.
Mail Letters From School To Home
The kids got to make a picture (or write a letter if they are already doing word-blending and writing...many of the kids who are back at my school for a second year wrote actual letters!) to send home in the mail. I addressed envelopes for them and then we worked on folding our papers to fit in our envelopes, how to seal the envelope, and where to put the stamp. We did this together as a group.
The kids then walked their letter to our school mailbox for the mailman to pick up! How fun! Earlier in the year I mailed all the kids a letter thanking them for a wonderful first week of school. I think it will be a great experience to actually mail a letter and see it show up at their houses.
Setting It Up