Thursday, April 30, 2015

Snack ideas for your Preschool Graduation celebration

Every Preschool Graduation that I have been a part of during my career has had some sort of snack component, which works out well for me because I love to bake.  I always want to make something for the celebration, but I also usually encourage parents to bring something to share as well.  Some of my celebrations have been very well-attended, and I can't feed that many people by myself!

I always appreciate the parents who offer to bring drinks and paper products, that makes my life so much easier! I also love it when someone brings a fruit salad or a veggie tray, they are always welcome among the baked goods.  The last couple of years I've hosted "Smart Cookies" themed graduation celebrations, so we've had cookie buffets, which are easy for everyone, even if you go to the store and buy cookies, you're still participating in the theme! If you're looking for a fun idea for your graduation celebration (or you're a parent who needs an idea) here are a few cute options;

Graduate fruit cups - from A Thrifty Mom

School color puppy chow mix - from Savings Lifestyle

Marshmallow pops - from Jane Can

Cake Roll Diplomas - from Disney Family

Nearly any snack can be done in school colors, and if the preschool doesn't actually have school colors, then black and silver are always safe bets for a graduation celebration!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Preschool Activities that Teach Spatial Relationships

It's Wednesday, and here at Preschool Ponderings, that means time to focus on the standards.  Every Wednesday I choose an Early Learning Standard and share a number of activities that can be aligned with that particular standard.  Remember, the Standards that I use every day, and am most comfortable with are Ohio's Early Learning Development Standards - you can review them here, however I've found that even if your State's standards differ, many of these activities can still be aligned similarly. I've rounded up some great ideas today!

Domain: Mathematics
Strand: Geometry
Topic: Spatial Relationships

Preschool geometry is all about shapes, and this particular standard focuses on how shapes fit in relation to the objects around them.  One great way to help your students explore this standard is through puzzles.  Children learn that twisting and turning a piece will make it fit into a specific space.  the more they practice this skill, the easier it is for children to look at a shape and visualize how it will fit into a space. Here are some other ideas for practicing spatial relationships.

Practice relative position terms with action figures - from Lessons Learnt Journal

Practice spatial awareness with shape sorters - from Amazon (Affiliate link)

Make your own shape sorter for classroom objects - from csoppkeblog

Trace classroom objects to make silhouettes that children can match - from Happy Hooligans

These ideas ca be adapted for any season or topic that your students are interested in, which makes them great for year-round learning!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Preschool Graduation Decorations

I've learned that when it comes to decorations for preschool graduation, less is more.  This is a problem for me because I LOVE to decorate, but ultimately, too many decorations cause more stress that necessary because they take time to put up, time that I just don't have on graduation day. I keep my decorations minimal by reminding myself that what parents really want is to see their children.  This helps me focus and prioritize when it is time to decorate.  I try to make sure that the ceremony space, where the children will receive their diplomas looks nice, but not busy. Parents want photos of their children, not photos where it is hard to find their children amid all of the decorations.

The other thing that really helps me is to make sure everything follows the same color scheme - all of my awards, gifts for students, keepsakes, tablecloths, and diplomas use the same color scheme because then all of the elements of the celebration look like they go together. This creates a unified look without a lot of decor.

Here are a couple of photos from last year's ceremony (notice that even the graduation hats the children decorated use the colors from the theme, it all looks like it goes together).

Here are some other easy Pinterest ideas that I absolutely love;

All of these ideas are easy to do and will fit in your budget so that you can create a beautiful graduation for your preschoolers and their families!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Everything you need to host a Preschool Graduation

Yup, it's that time of the year, time to start planning your preschool graduation ceremony.  Do you do the same thing every year? I like to switch it up and plan something new and special every year, but of course, that means I have to plan something new and special every year! So over the last few years I've put together a template of sorts that makes things just a little easier.

I include the same elements;

  • Introduce the students
  • Read a letter to the graduates
  • Read an inspirational story
  • Present class awards
  • Handout diplomas
and then each year I just swap in a new letter to the graduates, a different story that goes with the theme of the celebration, and cute stories about the kids to go with each of my awards.  I've found that this helps keep the actual ceremony short and sweet, and then I do a reception afterwards for the children and their families to enjoy. 

I always write a letter to my kiddos and include it in their End of the Year Memory Books. Sometimes I get really personal, sometimes I use a poem or letter that works for all of them, and sometimes I do a little of both - start with a poem and add a couple of personal sentences for each student.  Last year was the first year that I read the letter during the graduation ceremony and it was a really sweet way to let the kids and families know that I will miss them.  It made the ceremony a little more personal, and I'll definitely keep this as a part of my ceremony for years to come.  If you need a little inspiration, here are a couple of cute letters that you could use as a starting point;
I've used a number of inspirational books over the years, including (all Amazon links are affiliates);
There are SO MANY ways to share a story during your graduation celebration.  You could get the hardcover book and have each child in your class sign the book, and then read it during the ceremony (then it would be a cute keepsake for you). You could take video of yourself reading the story, and then project the video on a large screen so everyone could see it, or you could use a you tube video of someone else reading the book.  Last year I just took a photo of each page and put the photos into a power point presentation, but each of the books listed above is available in kindle format, so you could hook your laptop or tablet to a projector and use kindle to read the book.  The same book that you read during the ceremony would be a meaningful (and easy) gift for each of your graduates. 

My favorite part of the graduation ceremony is presenting the awards.  I use the End of the Year Award Ribbons that are available in my TPT store for a couple of reasons.  They're easy I just have to print them and cut them out. I usually put a rolled up piece of tape on the back, and then the children can wear them all afternoon.  These award ribbons make it really easy to find a personal reward for each child because they focus on character traits, and they make everyone feel warm and fuzzy. They can also easily be put into the End of the Year Memory Book, so families can keep them forever. 

Handing out diplomas is usually the photo opp of the ceremony, so during our rehearsals I encourage the children to take a minute and look at the audience so that Mom or Dad can get a picture.  They usually wave and it's absolutely adorable.  I have a diploma freebie in my TPT store that matches all of my decor, memory books, and awards. You can download it HERE.

I hope that my resources will help you with your planning. Check in later this week because I'm going to have ideas for decorations and snacks too!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Freebie - Graduation

Happy Friday! This weekend looks to be another busy one. Tomorrow I'll be presenting at the Michigan AEYC Conference, come see me if you are going to be there! My presentation is all about creating documentation and using it in the classroom, if you can't make it to the conference you can check out some of the information I'll be sharing from these blog posts.

I also have a great freebie for you today. Yesterday I shared my End of the Year Memory Book, which makes a great Preschool Graduation keepsake.  Today I wanted to share a freebie that made a huge difference in my graduation preparations last year.

These adorable graduation bands are a lifesaver! Have you ever tried to make graduation caps out of paper? It is a pain and they never fit the children, and then they fall off their heads throughout the entire ceremony.  These bands are easy for children to decorate, easy to put together, and easy to wear, thank goodness! They are from Brooke Beynon, who is clearly a genius, and she has included bands for each grade level, so they are useful for all classrooms - even if your students aren't necessarily "graduating".

I hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

End of the Year Memories

Hopefully you still have a couple of weeks before you have to think about preschool graduation (can it really be that time of year already?!) but I wanted to share one of my favorite activities for the end of the school year because it takes a little time to complete.

Last year I created a Preschool Memory book for my students to record their favorite things about preschool, and some all about me information.  These pages become a great way to show off all of the skills that they had learned throughout the year.

I added their portfolios and a letter from me, then bound it all. It was a great gift that I could give to the families because they will forever have this keepsake that includes their child's own thoughts, writing, and drawings.

I also loved doing these with my students because it gave me an opportunity to sit down with each of them and talk about the school year, it was fun to see what they remembered, and what made an impression on them. This is such a bittersweet time of the year and these memory books are a great way to prepare for graduation and celebrate the year. Download my End of the Year Memory Book here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Quotes for Earth Day

I love quotes, and I definitely think they have a place in the classroom because they are meant to inspire us.  Here are some great Earth Day quotes to share with your students.  Print them and display them in your classroom, or turn them into stickers that the children can wear all day long.

From Mokkasin

I'd love to know how you use quotes in your classroom. Share your thoughts in the comments!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Earth Day Science Activities for Preschool

Earth day is the perfect time to help children think about conservation.  This can be a difficult concept for young children to understand because natural resources seem to always be available.  Young children are most likely to understand the importance of conserving natural resources when we make this topic relevant to their lives. I've rounded up some great activities that you can do with your students to help them better understand conservation and natural resources.

Explore how much water we can save by turning off the tap when brushing our teeth - from Rainy Day Mum

Explore water pollution - from Getting Messy with Ms. Jessi

Using this energy conservation checklist in your classroom, then send it home for children to use with their families - from

Sign up to collect every day items and recycle them through TerraCycle

All of these activities make conservation personal for children because these are items that they use every day.  They also give children a great visual for just how much of a difference they can make.  Our school collects applesauce and baby food pouches for TerraCycle.  The children know that after lunch and snack their applesauce pouches go in a special bin, and they see just how many we collect.  Before we send in a shipment we count the pouches we've collected, or the children watch me fill up a big box.  They are always amazed how many there are - but it is a great visual for them.  

Monday, April 20, 2015

Taking Care of the Earth can be exciting!

Earth Day is on Wednesday, and if your plans are anything like mine, they probably involve heading outside to pick up litter.  This is a great way to help children understand that one little piece of trash can easily turn into many, many pieces of trash if we all litter, but it isn't the most exciting activity.  I've come up with a way to get little ones excited about picking up litter, so that it can be a fun experience your class will never forget.

Young children love super heroes, so I've created an Earth Day super hero mask that your students can decorate to wear while you pick up litter.  Once they've completed their mask you can give them rubber gloves and a garbage bag to complete their super hero costume (you could even make a cape out of the garbage bag if you want).

The children will love that they get to be Earth Day Avengers, and members of the community will get a kick out of seeing the children in costume as they pick up litter.

Download the mask template here and start on this easy project with your class - I'd love to see your photos if you're willing to share!

After you've picked up litter you can sort and graph it using the freebie that I shared on Friday, make sure to go check it out!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Freebie - Earth Day Activities

Happy Friday! This was a super busy week, and I wish I could say that things will slow down a little, but next week is just as crazy.  This weekend won't bring a lot of time to relax, but I guess that means it's spring - the weather is warm and my schedule is packed!

I have a freebie for you today that will help with your plans for next week.  Earth Day is next Wednesday and this Graph and Write set will keep your class busy all morning.  Take them outside to collect litter, and then the children can sort the litter into different categories and graph what they've found.  I did this with my class last year and their favorite part was getting to wear plastic gloves while they collected and sorted the litter.  It also includes a writing activity which makes a great bulletin board display.

Thanks for taking a minute to check in, make sure to go download the freebie, I'm sure that your students will love it (and it's really eye opening to see how much litter and the different types of litter you will find)!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Appreciation for Early Childhood Teachers

Teachers who work with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers don't often get shown a lot of appreciation.  I can speak from experience when I say that the job they do is not easy.  The hours are long, the work is physical, and extremely emotional, but it is also incredibly rewarding. Early Childhood teachers are selfless and energetic, and they are passionate about teaching the youngest children.  The Week of the Young Child is a great opportunity to recognize and appreciate these teachers.

A couple of years ago I pinned a quote to my Preschool Quotes Pinboard, It's been repinned nearly 100 times.  The original artwork was from Zulily and I haven't been able to find it again, so I thought I would create a printable version that you could download and share with your favorite ECE teacher.  print this quote and place it in a frame with a sweet little note, it would be the perfect piece of artwork for any classroom.

If you are looking for additional ideas for teacher gifts, be sure to check out these posts:

All of my posts this week will deal with a different facet of Early Childhood Education. These posts are great for sharing with families and with staff, so be sure to check back every day for new information! Be sure to take a minute to check out these related posts:
Great Quotes for Celebrating Parents
Promoting Healthy Eating and Physical Activity
Why is Early Literacy Important?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Great quotes for celebrating parents

The Week of the Young Child is the perfect time to let parents and families know how much you appreciate them.  Whether you have parents who are constantly donating time and materials to your classroom, or parents who are just doing the best they can do to care for their children, every parent would love a reminder they they are doing a great job.  Here are some quotes that would make great cards or framed prints for parents of the children in your class;

From Venspired

I love to take a minute to write each family a note letting them know that they are appreciated and that they are doing a wonderful job raising their child.  It's not something that parents hear everyday and it's nice to give them a little reassurance!

All of my posts this week will deal with a different facet of Early Childhood Education. These posts are great for sharing with families and with staff, so be sure to check back every day for new information! Be sure to take a minute to check out these related posts:
Promoting Physical Activity and Healthy Eating
Why is Early Literacy Important?