How to Make an Old Puzzle Fun Again

Every day we have books and puzzle time at our preschool right after snack time.  

It's a great transition activity between eating (and waiting for friends to finish up) and heading outside for more active play.

At this time of year, though, the puzzles always start to feel a little stale.  

The kids have seen our selection a number of times and no amount of rotating the stock can make them seem as fun as they once were. 

This week, we decided to add a "fresh twist" to our puzzles to increase the fun factor.   I saw a similar idea on 
Play to Learn Preschool and knew I had to try it too! 

We buried the pieces from our wooden alphabet puzzle and our wooden number puzzle in a bin of small beads.  

We added paint brushes to the bin so students could act like "excavators" and brush off all the beads from a piece before removing it from the bin.  

(Note - I highly recommend adding the paintbrushes!  For once, we had virtually no beads land on the floor!!)

Once the pieces were bead free, the kids added them to the alphabet or number puzzle board.  

Deciding whether each piece was a number or letter was easy for some, but a good learning activity for others.  

Suddenly the old puzzles became new again and we had a bunch of kids excited to play.
Preschools can only buy (and store) a certain number of toys so finding a way to make something OLD seem NEW again
is always a good thing! 

Father's Day Gift Ideas that Kids Can Make!

Father's Day is fast approaching!  
And of course, a gift idea for dad's must be chosen.

It tends to be tricky to find a gift for dads.
  They usually don't seem to need or want much.  
I know all my dad ever asked for at birthdays and Christmas time was SOCKS!

In case you are on the lookout for ideas, I thought I'd share a few gifts that we have made in the past, and/or ideas that we have on our "to make" list for upcoming years!

1.  Barbecue sauce
 Dads love to EAT and they love to BARBECUE so barbecue sauce seems like a good fit! 

We did this last year.  The students helped make the sauce and then we decorated the jars by adding labels, a copy of the recipe, and a cute little piece of checked red and white fabric to cover the lid.

I don't have photos of the process or the finished product, but you can see a similar idea that I saw on a blog HERE.  
I love the cute label!  

2.  Spice rub
This idea is similar to Idea #1 with a bit of a variation.
I was inspired by the photo below that I saw on Pinterest.  

Check out the post if you want to see how the gift was wrapped.  

The blogger did not provide her super secret recipe for the rub, but there is a recipe in the comments section of the post that looks pretty darn good!

3.  Car Air Freshener
Now we know this is something most dads could use!  :)

We made the air fresheners by cutting out train engine shapes on felt using a die cut machine.  
The kids looped a ribbon through the train (so that it could be hung from dad's rear view mirror) and added sparkles, plus a few strong sprays of men's cologne.
It was quick, original, and practical!    

I don't have a picture of our trains, but here's a link to a similar idea.
  I like the fact that this one uses essential oils to scent it, too!  

4. Free Hug Signs
My daughter gave her dad a little metal piece that said 
Flash this for a FREE HUG - No Expiry! 
My husband still has it on his desk 10 years later! 

We wanted to make something similar for our preschool dads so we made signs on heavy cardboard with a similar message.
The kids couldn't do the writing so they glued a printable to the sign and then they decorated around the edges with stickers, drawings, and sparkles.  
We glued a large popsicle stick to the sign for the handle.

Our preschool dads started flashing the sign the moment they got it! 

5.  Baked goodies
This idea was a definite contender for this year!
Bake some cookies or squares with the class and package them in a cute way!

I love the packaging idea that I saw on Pinterest below!
I'd provide the source of this idea, but the site is no longer accessible.  

6.  Coupon Tin
Yes, the coupon idea has been done many times before!
(I even did it when I was a little gomer many, many years ago).  
BUT I saw a presentation for the coupons HERE which made the idea seem really fresh!  

You could vary the theme on the tin and the coupons as you wish. 

We don't currently have enough tins to get this idea happening this year, but next year this will likely be our choice!
I think the dads would love it! 

  7.  A Game to Play with Dad
THIS is the chosen winner for this year!  

We are going to be making a 
tic tac toe game board set 
for kids and dads to play together.  

We are still working out the details, but I'll post it as soon as it's complete along with a card printable to go with it!  

Just click in the sidebar to follow my blog to make sure you get the update and freebie!

Hope that gives you some new ideas.  
And if you have some Father's Day gift ideas to share, I'd love to read about them in the comments!

Mother's Day Gift Idea and Free Printable

We wanted our preschool moms to feel like 
 this Mother's Day.

And what queen would be without some diamond jewelry?

Although we couldn't make real diamond bracelets, we could make DIME - ON bracelets.  Practically just as good!!  :)

 I definitely need to give credit for this idea to Jenn at Crayons and Cuties in Kindergarten.  She has a blog post HERE which explains her process and it also includes some fun ideas for a Mother's Day tea party. 
Make sure you check it out after reading this post!    

 I've documented how our class made dime-on jewelry with the photos below.  

Our process was a little different than Jenn's, plus we made dime-on bracelets instead of dime-on necklaces, as Jenn did with her class.   

The charms for the bracelets were made from this Polyform Air Dry Modeling Clay from Michael's.

Awesome stuff!  
And we barely even made a dent in the package after making 40 charms.  

We rolled out some clay on wax paper - enough for each child to cut out a charm.

The kids chose the shape they wanted for their charm from our selection of small dough cutters.

They pressed a cutter into the dough to get their charm shape.

Then they pressed a dime in the center of their charm to make an imprint. 
 (Note: The dime will be glued on later after painting.)

The teachers marked a spot on the charm and helped the kids poke a hole on the edge of the charm.  
We found a toothpick worked best.

 All the charms were placed in cupcake liners (with each child's name written inside).
  We left them to dry over the weekend, but I think only 24 hrs of drying time was officially required.

On day 2, the kids painted their charms (front, back, and sides) with acrylic paint.

We tried to encourage the kids not too load up too heavily on the paint so that the hole and the dime imprint wouldn't get filled in.  Didn't always work though! :)

When they charms were dry, we wrote each child's name and the year on the back with a fine point Sharpie marker.
Then the teachers used a hot glue gun to attach the dimes.

The kids threaded a piece of stretchy string through the hole and added beads.

And here's the result-
Dime-on bracelets fit for a QUEEN!

The kids helped wrap them up with a copy of the gift note below inside the package.  
We wanted the moms to know that they were getting a real DIME-ON bracelet after all! :)

The gift note in this photo would be included with a girl's present. 

The boys' moms will get a gift note signed, 
Love, your little prince

Then we had the kids tape the present to the inside of the card they made last day.

I recommend printing them on coloured paper to give them extra flair!  
If you'd like to make the Mother's Day cards that go with this gift, check them out HERE.  

You can pick up the FREE printables to make the card while you're there.  

For more FREE Mother's Day ideas and printables, including ideas for tea parties, just look in the Mother's Day category in my TPT store.

Have a wonderful Mother's Day!  

Mother's Day Card Idea for Kids plus Free Printables

Mother's Day is fast approaching and we're just finishing up our cards and gifts.

I always breathe a sigh of relief when we've got every mom covered!  Especially for the kids who are often away!

This year we went with a bit of a "mom is a queen" theme.

Because, let's face it, moms are like queens! :)

Today I'll show you the cards we made.  
The gifts, I'll have to feature in a separate post.  
(I'm still missing a photo or two!)  

You'll see the queens in our cards have different hair colours - each colour carefully chosen to look just like mom's! :)

Moms with black hair....

Moms with brown hair....

Moms with blonde hair....
And yes, I'll admit the poor blonde moms got a bit ripped off.  

There was no yellow yarn as expected and so they got some dry, brittle straw hair!

But hey, highlights can do some pretty harsh things to one's hair so maybe there's a bit of truth to the look. :) (Spoken by one who knows!)

The inside of the card featured this message.

To make the cards, the kids were all given images of a face  and a crown to glue to the front of the card.

I knew it would be hard for the kids to colour the face and the crown (we don't even own "skin coloured" felts) so I printed the crown on yellow paper, the face on skin coloured paper, and the cards' message on pink paper.

The kids glued these pieces to the center of the card, then used a marker to draw on the facial features.  
Last, they glued on the hair, jewels, and sparkles.

We used cardstock paper to help support all of the jewels. 
 The card would just flop over if it was made out of regular paper.   

If you'd like to make a similar card for Mother's Day, I have posted the crown, face, and card message for you HERE.

Watch for our Mother's Day gift idea coming next!


Bakery Dramatic Play Center for Preschool or Kindergarten

Our kids love dramatic play activities and we try to introduce a new center every month or two.

This week our theme has been BAKERY and it has definitely been one of their favourites.   
The kids took turns assuming the different roles at the bakery - namely, the customer, the baker, the cashier, or the clerk.

We used this wipeable form and a dry erase marker for the customer's order.

Either the customer filled out his order on the form, or when we had two clerks, one would fill out the form and the other clerk would fill the order.
The order would be placed in one of the take out bags or on a paper plate if the customer was "eating in."   

We left some money in a basket by the till that the customer could use to pay the cashier.
It was always interesting to see how much the cashier would charge.
  One cashier announced the cost of two cookies was $900!!  A little steep, but the customer seemed happy to pay it!

Below you can see our bakers in the kitchen working hard to keep the store stocked.
We had a variety of equipment and ingredients, each with its own label.  
Here is a sample of some of the items.
After the bakers added all the ingredients to a bowl, they'd mix it up, then pop the cookies in the oven to bake.

A close up of the baked goods can be seen below.  
They look pretty yummy, no?  

All these baked items were laminated for durability and then I used a glue gun to back them with foam paper.
This made them thicker and easier for the kids' little fingers to pick up.
The awesome repeat customers were rewarded with a FREE cookie or FREE donut card for their next visit.

Some days we change up the bakery center and we let the bakers make the cookies and other treats out of playdough.  
We use our bakery playdough mats for this.

We have a mat for cookies, donuts, cupcakes, a plate mat, and then a cooling rack mat, as well.

The bonus of the mats is that set up and take down of the bakery is quick and easy. 
 And the mats are easy to store, too!

Would you like to set up your own bakery?
All the items you see in the photos, plus many more signs, labels, and 3 game ideas are included in my Bakery Dramatic Play Set in my Teach Easy Resources Store.  

Just $3.95 for the pack!
Cookie, anyone?


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