Thursday, August 18, 2011

Preschool Activity Trays

If you have little ones at home, whether you are homeschooling them or not, this post is for you!  This year I will be homeschooling my 4 year old for her last year of preschool.  She spent a year in Montessori School before we moved to China, and I love the Montessori Method!  So I really wanted to replicate that in my homeschool as much as I could.  Of course... I am in China, and still waiting for our shipment of household goods to arrive, so my resources are somewhat limited.  I managed to find enough to pull the following activities together.  So far, they are a big hit (not only with my 4 year old, but the older kids as well).

Math: Measurement
Supplies
A container of rice, a bowl (or 2), a measuring cup, a scoop, and cards with printed measurements

How it's Done
Child selects a measurement card, matches the number on the measuring cup, then uses the scoop to fill the cup with rice to that unit.  Then the rice is transferred to the bowl, where they can work on a second measurement.


Math: Order/Sequencing
We found these amazing nesting dolls at a Chinese market.  Look how tiny the smallest is!  This is a great activity for young children, and I love that it is self-correcting.  If you can snag a set for yourself, you won't regret it.  I've bought them online in the past.


Language: Reading
  
Supplies
Cards in a rainbow of colors with the colors written on them, and matching white cards with each of the same colors printed.

How it's Done
Child first sets out all of the colored cards.  Next, they pick up one "white" card at a time, and match the color on the card with the "colored" card as they say the name.

What I LOVE about this one is that you can see how excited such a young child gets when you say "You can read your colors!!!"  Not only are they learning to recognize the letter patterns of each word, they are seeing the word and the color together, which helps to reinforce the learning of that word/color.


Math: Counting & Number Recognition
Supplies
A cup of chocolate chips, and 10 Cookies cut from construction paper
Write one number on each (1-10), and add a "dots" to each cookie to represent the number of chocolate chips found in that cookie

How it's Done
Child sets out each cookie and adds the appropriate number of chocolate chips to each.  If your child is able, you can also ask them to lay the cookies out in numerical order.  Children better with their numbers might not need the "dots" added to the cookies at all.

After I put this together, I thought I should have added the number on the same side as the "dots" so my daughter could learn to connect the visual of the number, with the number of chocolate chips she was placing as she worked.  If your child hasn't quite learned that this "6" is a SIX... then I recommend doing this :)


Math: Patterning
Supplies
Strips of paper, a container separating various colors of small paper squares, and a glue stick

How it's Done
Child uses the colored squares to create a simple pattern on the paper strip.

I found that giving my daughter the freedom to just "go with it" got to be a little too much for her.  So I put the rule down that she could only use 2 colors for each pattern.  Once I'm sure we're getting the hang of that one, we'll move onto 3.


Math: Counting & Number Recognition
Supplies
A strip of card with groupings of pictures to represent the numbers 1-10, 10 clothespins with the numbers 1-10 printed on them

How it's Done
Child pins the clothespin onto the corresponding group of pictures


Fine Motor Skills
Supplies
Paper with large shapes traced on them (such as circles, squares, and diamonds), and a pair of scissors

How it's Done
Child cuts the shapes trying to work along the lines.


Language: Letter Recognition
Supplies
A Container, Small pieces of paper with the letters of the alphabet written on them, and 3 pieces with the word "BANG"

How to Play
Taking turns, each child (or child and parent) pulls a card from the container and reads the letter.  They place the letter in their pile, and the next person draws a card.  If the word "BANG" is drawn, that person must put all of their cards back into the bucket.  The person with the most cards at the end of the game wins.

However, it is pretty much impossible to end this game... so you may have to call it a game once the interest is wearing off.  


Practical Life Skills
Supplies
Wash clothes or other small, simple items for a child to fold.

How it's Done
Child folds the items on the tray.

Start small and work up!  After practicing folding at school, my daughter couldn't wait to help me with the laundry each week!  A double bonus!  ;)


Science: Classification, Hypothesizing, Experimenting, Analyzing
Supplies
A container of water, two containers (one marked "floats" and the other "sinks"), and an assortment of items for the experiment

How it's Done
Ask your child to first make a guess as to what items will float and what will sink by placing them in the appropriate container.  Then, test them out!  Ask your child if they had made the right guess.  If not, your child can place the item in the correct container.

Keep this activity fun by swapping out the items in the experiment.


Math: Money
Supplies
A piece of card that you have traced the various coins on, writing the coins value on each, and a cup full of coins

How it's Done
Child uses the coins to match the appropriate coin with it's value/place on the card.

Ok, so the penny and dime are SO close in size, so I came up with the idea to color each of the matching coin places the same color.  I also made sure my daughter understood that she needed to see the entire circle around the coin (since placing a penny on a dime's place would overlap the circle a bit).  By writing the coins value on the places, you are helping to reinforce the value that each coin has in your child's mind as they play along.


Language: Letter Recognition & Alphabetical Order
  
Supplies
A strip of card with the alphabet written on it, and 26 clothespins with the letters of the alphabet written on them

How it's Done
Child matches the letter on each clothespin with the corresponding letter on the alphabet card, and pins it into place.

I chose to use lower case letters on the card and upper case on the pins to help reinforce the relationship between the two with my child.  I also put the vowels in a different color on the card so that these stood out as being "special" letters in the alphabet.


Fine Motor Skills
Supplies
Chopsticks (We have kiddie chopsticks to start with), two bowls, and a handful of peanuts in the shells

How it's Done
Child practices using chopsticks by picking up the peanuts in one bowl and transferring them to the other.

 Start with kiddie chopsticks, and move onto regular chopsticks the more able your child becomes.  You can also move to peanuts without their shells for more of a challenge.


Language: Letter Recognition
Supplies
A clear plastic bottle, rice, alphabet letters, a print out of the alphabet, and a marker

How it's Done
Child searches for the letters of the alphabet in the bottle.  When a letter is located, the child locates the letter on their alphabet print out, and marks it off.  The goal is for the child to find all of the letters on their list.

I used some little foam alphabets that I had from a previous craft kit.  They work perfectly!


Math & Language: Number & Letter Formation / Handwriting
  
Supplies
A book with clear plastic page covers, printouts of number and alphabet tracers, and a dry erase pen

How it's Done
Child is able to draw on the plastic page covers to trace their numbers and letters, and later wipe the pages clean to work again.

 I LOVE the printables that author Jan Brett shares on her website.  These are perfect for this activity.  I also plan to add a page with my child's name in the beginning of the book, so she can practice writing her name and other common words.


Language: Writing
Supplies
Stationary, envelopes, address cards, a special pen, and stickers (stamps would be great too!)

How it's Done
Child has all of the things they need to write a special letter to someone special.  They write the letter, put it into an envelope, seal it, add an address (and a stamp) and decorate it with a sticker or two.


Science: Sorting / Classification
Supplies
Two containers, one labeled "soft" and the other "hard", and a collection of small items from around the house.

How it's Done
Child goes through the assortment of items and sorts them into the containers.

 To keep this activity fun, you can change the items often.


Language: Writing / Letter Formation
Supplies
Chalkboard, chalk, a paintbrush or Q-tips, a small cup of water

How it's Done
Ahead of time, and adult writes some simple words, or the letters of the alphabet on the chalkboard.  The child then takes a wet brush or Q-tip and traces over the lines of the letters to "erase" them.


Fine Motor Skills
Lacing cards with string, or a lacing kit like this one shown, are a great activity for young children to practice using their fine motor skills.  I was so excited when I found this little kit!



Fine Motor Skills
Supplies
Wrapping paper, tape, scissors, gift tags, ribbons (optional), pen (not pictured)

How it's Done
Give your child all the supplies they need to wrap their own gifts.  Allow your child to collect small items from around the home and wrap them up.  Add a bow if you have some handy, and have them attach a tag with a name on it.

I haven't met a kit yet that doesn't enjoy wrapping presents.  Ignore the fact that my tape is simply just a roll in this picture.  I haven't found anything other than this as of yet.. ha ha.  And I forgot to include the pen!  Perhaps you have some left over holiday tags and ribbons you can add as well.  I'm sure this would be a favorite!



I hope I've left you with some fun ideas for your little ones!

56 comments:

  1. Great ideas!! I'm going to create all of them for my daycare children, thanks so much for sharing.

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  2. These are some great ideas! Thanks so much for sharing. I have lots of friends with preschoolers... :) Perhaps we'll get together and I will occupy their kids for a few hours.

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  3. Wow!! Not only are these extra neat learning ideas -- but I love how fun and inviting they look! What preschooler wouldn't enjoy learning using these great ideas?!

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  4. Great ideas! I can also see how these activities would be fun for older kids as well.

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  5. That's wonderful you are continuing with some montessori activities. I am so excited for my daughter to start at Montessori school in 2 weeks. I absolutely love it.

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  6. Great ideas! There are so many of these sort of ideas for toddlers, but now with my preschooler I was having a hard time coming up with new ideas. These are so great. I LOVE the color matching one and the alphabet clothes pin. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  7. These are all wonderful ideas! I'm definitely going to utilize many (if not all) with my girls!

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  8. What great ideas, and I love that you have included them all in one place! Thanks for helping to make planning easier.

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  9. I love the idea of finding letters in the rice in a bottle. Good to take on a car trip, too!

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  10. Wow, thanks everyone for all of your notes. I am so excited to hear that many of you are excited to incorporate these ideas in your own homes. I have found that through my own experience, you can learn fairly quickly what is too simple or too challenging for your child. All of these activities can be modified to fit the needs of your preschooler. If you have any questions how to do that, please feel free to send me a note! :)

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  11. WOW, these are all amazing ideas~~~~~simple, fun and won't break the bank!!!! I can't wait to introduce my four year old son to these!!!

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  12. Thanks SO MUCH for sharing these! Can't wait to get started with them. So thankful for a pack of ideas I can do with everyday items.

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  13. You have no idea how excited I am over this post! What amazing ideas! I part time homeschool my oldest child and follow their curriculum they send home for her home school days (school is set up this way for all the families...long story and sorry if I have confused you) but my youngest is ready for all of these even though she just turned 3 and I have wanted to start something this year. You have inspired me so, so, so much! Thank you! Hugs!
    Jessica

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  14. Great ideas! I think bigger kids would also love it. Thank u for sharing

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  15. These are great ideas! I'm a secondary level teacher, so I've been struggling a little for ideas to use with my toddler this upcoming school year. Although she's old enough to be placed in a "nursery school," I didn't feel any of the local schools fit our needs. I plan to work with her myself until she can enter pre-kindergarten next year and these activities will be a great help. Thank you so much!

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  16. Totally love these ideas! So simple to create but children will learn so easily with these tools. I am now following you on Google and look forward to making these awesome teaching tools this week for our grandbabies 2 & 3 yrs old.

    And also I will be looking at all your posts to see what I missed!

    Sue *sunlite705@aol.com*

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  17. Rachel, I just put this link on my facebook. Seriously love it. Thanks for sharing it and for your contagious love of learning.

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  18. Really appreciate you linking up this awesome masterpiece at the Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop :)

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  19. Hopping over from TipJunkie. Thank you for sharing such wonderful ideas. Shall use them with my little children. I love the letter recognition activity where children will use clothes pegs to match the upper and lower case.

    Anna
    http://chippychipdovey.wordpress.com

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  20. Visiting from Homemaker on a Dime, I'm so excited to try these ideas! Thank you so much for this post, I have a 4 year old son and these would be great activities to do while my toddler naps!
    www.modernwivelyhood.blogspot.com

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  21. it's me again. I've been back 3 times today. I love these preschool ideas! Pinning now! Thanks for sharing, Maria
    http://caribbeanmissionarywife.blogspot.com/

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  22. Great ideas! I have been racking my brains trying to think of different way to teach my 3 year old his letter and numbers. These are great ideas that are CHEAP to make! Thanks for sharing.

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  23. I love these ideas!! I can't wait to try some with my almost 3-year-old.

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  24. These are wonderful! From a former teacher they all look awesome!!

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  25. Thank you so much! I can't wait to try out so many of these with my kids!

    -Janelle
    homemadethisandthat.blogspot.com

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  26. These are great ideas! I'm not sure whether I'll be enrolling my three year old in preschool or doing something at home, but I'll definitely keep these ideas!

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  27. Very creative and detailed. Thanks for sharing! - Jess (at) OlyMomma

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  28. Wow! What a great indoor activity! It's so hot here my son doesn't even want to go outside! Thanks for linking up!!

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  29. Super activity!

    I'd love for you to link up to our Crafts for Under Twenty Somethings party going on now. It's a blog hop specifically for kids and teens related "stuff", so your post would be perfect!

    Melanie
    http://bearrabbitbear.blogspot.com/2011/08/crafts-for-under-twenty-somethings_24.html

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  30. Wow, this post is AWESOME!! Can't wait to try all of these ideas with my preschooler.

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  31. SOOOO many great ideas! Thank you!

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  32. wow these are fantastic! thanks for sharing!

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  33. Wow, I feel like I just snooped in someone's "best ideas ever" diary!!! Thank you for sharing!!!

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  34. What great ideas, thanks so much for sharing!
    Erica
    www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com

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  35. Wow Great Trays!!! It looks like you have a ton of fun with your little ones! I just found your blog via pintrest! :) If you have time to pop on by and visit my blog, I'd love to have you!
    http://discoverydaysandmontessorimoments.blogspot.com/
    Happy Schooling!

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  36. j'adore si simple et pas compliqué :)

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  37. Your site is very impressive, particulrly considering the fact that you are in China and I am sure dealing with differences than your prior home. In spite of that, you have created a very good site.

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  38. Perfect ideas that I can use with my Kindergartener that needs help with his skills! Thank You!!!!

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  39. WONDERFUL blog! Love these ideas! I quickly made the matching game for color words before even scrolling the rest of the way down this page!! My 3 year old is so excited!

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  40. Thank you for these ideas! I was feeling a little lost with fun and educational stuff to do with my 17 month old. I just made a bunch of activities and going to try with him over the next few days!

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  41. Great Site Thanks!!

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  42. We LOVE the game Bang! It's one of my kids favorites!!

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  43. Amazing post- what a lucky tot!

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  44. All ideas look so fun, easy, cheap & adaptable to even younger ages! Just what I have been looking for! Thank you for what you do!!

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  45. I teach pre-k and these are great ideas! I love to see how parents are preparing their children for school in fun ways! I also liked reading how the activity worked with you and your child. Doing patterns with more than two colors or shapes in the beginning is very hard. You were correct in selecting two to begin with.

    I look forward to seeing what else you and your child do!

    Tiffany ♥

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  46. Thank you so much for ALL that wonderful information!!! I'm a home school mommy and this was the BEST page of activities I have seen in a LONG time for young kiddos. Thank you, thank you!!!!

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  47. Wow, these are wonderful. I teach adults with severe impairments and some of these ideas are very relevant for us! You are soooo creative!

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  48. Some parents really prefer homeschooling especially for their preschoolers but others are just into it because of certain circumstances. No matter what the situation is, it is always important to make the learning process a fun activity not only for the kids but also for the parents (with the help
    speech therapy Orange County for others). These methods you have shared are very creative and useful. Thank you for imparting this post. by the way, those seating dolls are beautiful!

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  49. Love these ideas. I've already tried some during the Christmas holidays to help with "boredom." We begin homeschooling again this coming week and I want to continue with my preschoolers, and I know my 1st grader will want to try some too. Do you have any ideas or posts on how to use this idea for older children?

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  50. Thank you! I pinned a bunch of ideas for each of my kids. Hopefully we'll get to try them out soon!

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  51. Thanks for all the great ideas!

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  52. Found this post on pinterest - excited to start trying them out!

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  53. ill not tell you how helpful is this,big Thanks

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