early childhood  activities Preschool
Activities for Small Groups

Preschool education activities that teachers can use to enhance the growth of language, logic, pre-reading and counting skills of young children. These activities easily develop into lesson plans that provide active learning experiences for preschool children and enrich early childhood curriculum.

Preschool Activity Theme for Small Groups

Woodworking Activity:  "Space"
During this woodworking activity by Anna P. teachers help youngsters create the planet Saturn and promote hand eye coordination and motor skills.

Materials: Foam ball (tennis ball size works great),
2 poster board circles, slightly larger than ball.
School glue and paint / glitter / sand (to cover the planet Saturn).
Saw and Clamp (not necessary but helpful to the fingers).

Description: This starts as a one on one activity.
1.  Child picks out styrofoam ball.

2. Teacher helps fit the ball into the clamp.  You want it to be secure,  but don't squish the sides in or the planet will be flat.

3. Stand behind the child, show him or her how to hold the saw. They should use 2 hands so there is no danger of them cutting themselves. Cut the ball in two equal-ish halves. Teacher holds the ball steady with one hand by pushing down of the very edge by the clamp. Your other hand will be holding the saw.  Help the child get started by telling him or her  to push / pull.  Most have no trouble, some need help getting started. 

4. Put saw up!

5. Have the child go to another table (art works) and cut out their cardboard circles. Glue the half ball to the center of each circle.  They love this part because you need to use a LARGE puddle of glue to make it stick.

6. Decorate your planet with paint or squeeze glue over both halves and cover with glitter or sand.  The glue leaves a nice track, some painted the glue on and had a smooth finish.

You will need to let it dry at least 24 hours. Then staple the two halves
together.  Hang and enjoy!  We also added moons by using plant wire (buy at Walmart in craft section).  They stuck the wire in Saturn and stuck a small foam ball on the other end.  These wires also make good hanging hooks, and can be cut easily.

Comments: The children loved it! When explaining what we would do, the girls insisted that only boys could use saws.  The sawing was everyone's favorite part!

The Outer Space Theme is in the Rainbow Resource Room.

Science: Dancing Sultanas
Explore the nature of gases and floating & sinking with this preschool science activity from Felicity.

Materials: A bottle of soda water and a handful of small sultanas (raisins).

Description: Talk with children about water and soda water - the addition of gases which makes the water bubbly. Open the bottle and add a few sultanas - watch them dance as the bubbles collect around them!  Close the lid and they stop - why? Great for problem solving and predicting.

Clown Cone Puppets
Make this easy clown puppet by Gina as part of a circus unit or as an extension to a visit from a puppeteer.

Materials: Cone cups, straws, clown picture to color.

Description: Children paint cups with water colors, tempera paint is too heavy!  Make a hole at the cone's tip and color the clown.  Glue the straw to the clown and insert the straw through the hole on the cup. Each child can give a name to their clown and made up songs to Pop, Goes the Weasel.

Comments: Change clown shape to any other desired shape.
The Circus Activity Theme is in the Rainbow Resource Room.

The Cutting Pool
During this preschool small group activity from Drema youngsters strengthen their small motor skills and practice cutting while teachers save scraps for crafts.

Materials: A small plastic pool, children's safety scissors, all kinds of materials such as; construction paper scraps, magazine scraps, yarn, etc.

Description: Ask children, a few at a time, to sit in the cutting pool and cut and snip as much as they would like. They are not allowed to jump in the pool because it  is only for cutting skills. When the children are done, they put their scissors into a  sand bucket and leave all the scraps in the pool. Teachers then collect the scraps for future projects.

Fun with Clips and Rings
Lisa H. offers this small group activity to help preschool children refine their fine motor skills, work on patterning, sorting and classification.

Materials: An assortment of various sizes and colors of clothespins, hair clips (the kind that when you squeeze the top, the bottom opens), and macramé rings.

Description: This is an idea for something you can put in one of your interest centers, such as the table toys center.  Put a variety of clothespins, hair clips, and macramé rings in a container or bin.  Show children how they can clip the clothespins and rings onto the different size macramé rings.  Children can create patterns by alternating blue clothespin, red clothespin, blue clothespin, red clothespin, and so on.  They can also sort by putting all the blue clips together and all the red clips together.  We use a variety of hair clips in fun colors and motifs (flowers, stars, butterflies).  The children really love manipulating the items.

Comments: For children 3 and under, be careful of what size clips you use because they could choke on the small clips.

Small Motor Scissors Skills
Provide plenty of opportunities for children to strengthen their small motor skills with this preschool activity from Kellie.

Materials: Safety scissors for children, paper with pre drawn lines on them.

Description: My kids love to cut on lines, so I draw many types of lines on paper and copy them on the copy machine. I put them out at the small motor table and  the children have the choice of going to that center. 

fine motor idea Coupon Cutting Idea
Michele offers this idea to develop fine motor control.

 Materials: Scissors and coupons.

Teachers, in a small group, provide preschoolers with a variety of coupons and encourage them to cut them out. 

Snip Soup
Michele H. offers this simple preschool activity as a way to assess young children's ability to cut or snip with scissors.

Materials: Several colors of construction paper cut into strips, small bowls andscissors.

Description: Have the children cut the paper, one color at a time, into the bowl.  They can pretend that they are cutting vegetables for soup.  This activity can also be used to assess children's knowledge of colors. My students enjoy it thoroughly!

creative art activityCooperative Drawing
This art activity from Natalie T. is for kindergarten and older children and promotes working as a cooperative team to create imaginative drawings.

Materials: Markers, paper and a clock.

Description: Begin by having the children sit around a table or in a small circle on the floor. Give each child a piece of paper and one marker. Have children write their names on the paper and then turn the paper over, so that the blank side is up. Instruct the children to begin drawing whatever is in their imaginations. After 30 seconds (more or less), have each child pass their paper to the left.

Now instruct the children to begin drawing again. After thirty more seconds pass the drawings to the left again. Continue drawing for thirty second increments and then passing until the papers arrive back to their original owners. Allow the last drawing session to last for two minutes. Share the drawings with the group. Talk about what it was like to try to imagine what each paper was supposed to be like. Share interpretations of the drawings.

Comments: This works best with a small group.

Science: Magnetic Art
Youngsters learn about magnetism while participating in this art activity by Connie.

Materials: Two chairs, benches or blocks, a piece of Plexiglas (11 x 14 or larger),a magnet wand or a strong magnet, metal objects such as washers, nuts, bolts or metal balls, tempera paint, paper and tape.

Description: Place Plexiglas across two chairs, benches or blocks so there is enough open space in between for the child's arm to move freely under the  Plexiglas. Tape the paper on top of Plexiglas.  Dip washers and other metal objects in tempera paint and place on the paper.  Hold the magnet wand under the Plexiglas and begin moving the the magnet. The magnet will begin moving the metal objects around the paper to create a picture. 

art ideaPaint Center
Integrate your pre-k and kindergarten themes in preschool art activities with this easy idea from Glorianne N.

Materials: Papers for paint center, paint and paint shirts.

Description: Normally the papers at the paint center are regular rectangular shape. However, during some themes I cut the paper into shapes and leave it at the center for the students. I have used a large leaf for my fall theme, an apple and the one they especially liked, the dinosaur.

Art Recipes and Activities are in the Rainbow Resource Room.

Bubble Wrap Play
During this early childhood education activity by Brenda Z. youngsters increase hand eye coordination, gross and fine motor skills, learn about colors and experience cause and effect.

Materials: Bubble wrap, plastic hammers, masking tape and different colors of paper.

Description: A really fun idea that works from toddlers to pre-k. 
Tape bubble wrap that is used for shipping, on the floor or sidewalk. Carpeted floors don't work as well. Let the children run, walk, hop or even dance on it to pop the bubbles. One of my toddlers laid down and rolled on it to pop the bubbles and feel the texture. When I turned on music they started dancing.
For older youngsters, you can also tape the bubble wrap onto a piece of wood and let the children hammer the bubbles with a plastic hammer. Put  different colors of paper underneath and direct which color to pop. Show them how to pop the bubbles with their fingers. Great to use with the bubble theme.

Comments: This activity kept my toddler 1's interest longer than any other activity I have come up with yet.

There is a Bubble Theme in the Rainbow Resource Room.

Science: Balloon Experiment
Encourage observation and prediction with this early childhood education science experiment by Tamara.

Materials: An empty 2 Liter pop bottle, one balloon, baking soda, vinegarand a spoon.

Description: Fill up the 2 Liter bottle with vinegar.  Fill it only about almost half way.  Place as many scoops as you wish of baking soda into the balloon.  Stretch out the balloon over the bottle. Don't flip it yet!  Ask the youngsters what will happen to the balloon.  Flip over the balloon so that all the baking soda falls into the bottle and watch how the balloon get full of air.

Comments: You can use different sizes of bottles and see if the children will think any differently.

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