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Activities for Small Groups
Preschool small group activities, lesson plans that provide active learning experiences for preschool children and enrich early childhood curriculum. You'll find ideas for the Block Area too!
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Preschool Activities for Small Groups

Science: Sink or Float Experiment
During this early childhood education lesson plan preschool children will use the science skills of prediction and observation.  Math, counting and graphing is encouraged as youngsters "record" their predictions and findings.

You will need:
A water table/tub, felt tip marker, oaktag, clear contact paper, a scale (if possible) and items that sink or float such as:
pieces of cork, metal and plastic bottle caps, toy boats, sea shells, small sponges, feathers, paper, pebbles, empty/full containers, and other items available in the classroom.

Teachers, before the experiment begins divide a sheet of oaktag in half by drawing a line down the middle.  At the top of one side write the word "Sink" and at the top of the other side the word "Float".  Cover the entire sheet of oaktag with clear contact paper. Children will use this chart to "record" their predictions and findings by placing the items that float on one side and the items that sink on the other.

In the small group give each child several items and ask if the item will sink or float. After each child makes a prediction ask him/her to place the item in the appropriate column. Next, experiment with each item to discover if the predictions were correct and place them in the proper sink or float category.

During the experiment ask preschool children why they think the water holds some things up and not others.  After observing what happens to the teacher selected items ask each child to find one item in the classroom that will float/sink and repeat the above experiment. If possible have a scale available for young children to weigh items and discover that objects differ in weight, and act differently in water.

Packing Peanut Sculptures
Preschoolers use fine motor and creative skills during this early childhood art project by Rosanne I.

Materials: Packing "peanuts" that are made out of cornstarch and water

Description: Test your packing peanuts first. If they are the kind made from cornstarch they will dissolve in water.  Give the children the packing peanuts and a moistened paper towel. They can dip the peanuts onto the paper towel and then the peanuts will stick together. Preschoolers  can make all kinds of sculptures and structures. Great for the imagination. Just remember, too much water and they dissolve. Don't send this project home in the rain!! 

Comments: These peanuts are colored and sold in bags, but recycled ones work just as well.
 

art activity  Paper Mache Banks
Kindergarten and pre-k youngsters use motor and art skills during this early childhood art project by Lisa T.

Materials: Glue, water, newspaper and a round balloon.

Description: Mix glue and water to a thick consistency.  Blow up a balloon, and tear newspaper into stripes.  Ask each child to dip a strip into the glue mixture.  Once the strip is covered, gently pat it on the balloon.
Continue doing this until the balloon is completely covered.  You will
need to do several layers.  Give it 48 hrs. to dry. 

Once it is hardened, use a straight pin and pop the balloon inside.
Then cut a small hole in the top of the paper mach balloon.
Youngsters can paint the figure however they like.  You may
even  add construction paper cut outs to make an animal.

new ideas for blocksBlock Area Ideas
Kathy offers these ideas for inexpensive block props.

Cheap Block Play
Materials: Empty boxes - from small shoe boxes to big boxes, such as the ones diapers come in and retail outlet boxes. 

Description: Put boxes in the block area where there is room for building and exploring.
Comments: Children love playing with the different shapes and sizes.

Block Time Prop
Materials: Small green containers that strawberries come in.

Description: Teachers put these containers in the block area or play area. The children can make garages for cars or cages for animals. We have made a two room house with them.  Preschool children never get enough of these containers. 
Comments: Have all of the children save the containers from home.

Fun with Blocks
Explore shape recognition, small motor skills and how three dimensional
shapes change by view point with this activity by Kristine S.

Materials: Several wooden blocks, paper, pencil, clear contact paper or laminator.

Description: Teachers, in advance, trace different sides of several blocks onto paper (i.e.: trace the long sides and short sides of a rectangular block).  Cover with clear contact paper or laminate. Set the blocks and paper out.  Let the children match the blocks to the shapes.  Encourage them to try different blocks on the same tracing.
A follow up activity is to let them trace blocks of their own choosing onto  paper.
 

Blocks: Textured Building
Preschool children explore different textures while building
gross motor and socialization skills during this activity by Lisa P.

Materials: Carpet squares, corrugated cardboard, pie tins, egg cartons, baskets.

Description: Teachers place materials in the block area. Show new
materials to children at circle. Bring some examples of the new 
materials for the children to touch during circle. Discuss how they feel
and look differently.
Before school, begin a structure for the children to add on to,
or just to foster their imagination. (motivational technique).
Comments: Add Duplo people and animals to make a city.
During storytime read "I Can Be An Architect" by Susan Clinton.

Opposites: Long and Short
Leslie offers this creative idea for teaching the concept of
"long and short".

Materials: Brown construction paper, drinking straws, tape, hole punch, and scissors

Teachers make a template of a dachshund / wiener dog and let the kiddies trace it on a piece of construction paper, brown is best.  If they have good scissors skills, let them cut out their dog. 
Accordion fold the middle of the dog and punch a hole in the center of the bunch of folds so that each fold will have a hole in the middle.  Push the straw through the holes and tape to the back of the dog's head.  Now they can hold the straw with one hand and make their doggie "grow" by pulling the other!
 

Peek-a-Boo Folders
Promote visual discrimination with teacher made folders in this small group activity by Michelle B. 

Materials: New or used file folders, pictures of animals or other objects, scissors, and clear contact paper.

Description: Using the contact paper, attach a picture to the inside of
a file folder.  Cut a hole on the outside of the folder, revealing a section of the picture. Repeat this for as many pictures as you have.

Have the pictures available to the preschoolers.  See if they can guess what the picture is of by looking at the section revealed through the hole.
 

activity ideaMath Art Idea
This inexpensive creative idea is contributed by Karen M. who has contributed several activities to the Preschool Rainbow.

You will need: 
Plain brown grocery bag, felt tip marker, glue, leaves or yellow stars

"The following idea can be used for preschool art or math (or maybe even science!).  Take the flat side panel of a plain brown grocery bag, or the inside of one with advertising.  Fold it in half from top to bottom, and cut it into two pieces.  Each piece makes one spiral.  Draw a spiral with lines about 1 1/2" apart.  Mark 10? "X"s evenly spaced around the spiral to glue construction paper leaves on. Cut the spiral lines and store flat before decorating.  Have students count the desired number of leaves (for math) and glue onto the "X"s. 

This idea could also be used on blue construction paper with yellow stars glued to it for science or math.  It makes a really nice classroom decoration, is easy and economical, too".

If you're looking for preschool math activities go to the
Counting and Numbers Theme
 
For more curriculum ideas and preschool activities go to 
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