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Five Unique Daycare Activities

written by: skline • edited by: Sarah Malburg • updated: 10/4/2012

Do you need ideas to entertain kids of a variety of ages? Try these fun and innovative ideas that are sure to keep smiles on the faces of these kids! Activities can be done in the morning or afternoon, so it's a win-win situation for you!

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    I’ve been a teacher for five years at a low income middle school in Texas. Prior to joining the public school system, I taught at a local preschool directed by my mother for several years. As a mother, I know it is important to give your children a head start whenever possible. Here you will find five educational activities and their descriptions, which include an educational tie-in and time frame for completion. These activities can be adapted for younger and older children. All activities have an educational aspect and are designed for use in both mornings and afternoons.

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    Nature Walk Collage

    Nature walks are best conducted on sunny days when the kids can go outside.

    Materials:

    • one piece of construction paper (per child)
    • glue
    • markers or crayons
    • plastic Ziploc bags (at least one per child)

    Directions:

    1. Ask your students to find ten different items that are part of nature, e.g., leaves, flowers, pinecones, or acorns. Be sure to communicate up front if there is something the students need to stay away from; for instance, flowers that should not be picked or poison oak.
    2. Allow your students to find their items and put them in the Ziploc bags.
    3. Go inside and pass out the construction paper.
    4. Tell your students to make a picture using their items. I would tell them they can create a picture of anything and see what they come up with. Ideas would be a picture of themselves, a snowman, an animal, or just an outdoor scene.
    5. When they have glued their items down, allow them to further decorate with the markers or crayons.

    This activity has science and art tie-ins because they get to explore nature (science) and incorporate their findings into pictures (art). The students will love this project because they get to be outdoors, pick up various things, and turn those things into pictures. This activity should take approximately two hours to complete. I would definitely plan a break in between the outdoor part and the indoor part. That would be the ideal time for a story or snack.

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    Fairytale Madness

    This activity should be conducted indoors. If your students can read, carry the rest of this project out individually. If not, pair the younger students up with some older ones that can read. Conduct the activity in pairs.

    Materials:

    • a collection of books that contain popular fairytales (Make sure you have enough for each student to choose one. You should also have some extras on hand in case students cannot find the one they want.)
    • hot glue gun and sticks
    • lots of various craft supplies (googly eyes, beads, markers, pipe cleaners, etc.)
    • socks (one per child)

    Directions:

    1. Spread out the books, and tell your kids to think of a favorite fairytale they have heard before.
    2. Match the books to their choices, assuming you have enough resources. If not, try to find a book that contains a fairytale that student would know.
    3. Have your students read their fairytale.
    4. Next, you will need a collection of socks (do not have to be matching), markers, googly eyes, hot glue guns, hot glue sticks, glitter, and other fun craft items of your choosing.
    5. Have your students create a sock puppet of one of the characters in their fairytale.
    6. Since you will be decorating on fabric (sock), your students will have to use hot glue for the items to stick. You will need to closely monitor the hot glue to minimize chance of burns. I would actually recommend you do this part for the students rather than have them glue items themselves. Use your best judgment.
    7. If time allows, you can have your students put on a show,where they retell their fairy tale using their sock puppet.

    This project has reading and art tie-ins because they get to read a story (reading) and decorate a sock puppet based on a character from that story (art). Additional skills include summarization, reading comprehension, and safety since they have to be careful with the equipment being used. This activity should take around three hours to complete. Allow time for students to choose and read their fairytales and then to decorate their puppets. If you choose to have them put on a puppet show, it may take a little longer.

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    Make Your Own Puzzle

    Your students will love this one!

    Materials:

    • scissors
    • sheets of cardboard (one per child)
    • markers or crayons

    Directions:

    1. Have each student draw and color a picture on a sheet of cardboard. Note that if you cannot find a sheet of cardboard, cut apart empty shoe boxes. Let them have the freedom of choice. Ideas could be a picture of a car, a self-portrait, a cartoon character, a superhero, a favorite toy, or anything else they choose. Be sure to tell them to cover almost the entire piece of cardboard.
    2. Have them color any blank area if they choose.
    3. Pass out the scissors and tell them to cut out puzzle pieces. They can cut in any direction and should end up with about ten to twelve pieces depending upon preference and the size of the cardboard.
    4. After they make their puzzle, have them switch puzzles with each other and put together the other person’s puzzle.

    This activity has ties to geometry, as they are creating various shapes, and art, since they are coloring and creating. The approximate length of time allotted should be two hours.

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    My Plate

    Preface this activity by teaching about the different food groups. Read a book about healthy eating habits. Please also note that this would be a great activity to allow use of computers if they are available. Students can find pictures on the Internet or use ClipArt instead of magazines.

    Materials:

    • one large sheet of paper cut into a circle (per child)
    • markers or crayons
    • an assortment of magazines that would contain pictures of various foods
    • scissors
    • glue sticks

    Directions:

    1. Divide each plate into four parts.
    2. Label the sections Fruits, Vegetables, Grains and Protein. Alternately, you could use this My Plate printout.
    3. Have your students find pictures either on the computer or in magazines, cut them out, and place them in the appropriate food groups.
    4. Glue them in place.
    5. You may also choose to have the students hand-draw some of the items if resources are limited.

    This activity has ties to science in that the students are learning about healthy eating habits and a technological aspect if your students have access to the computers. The approximate time this project takes from start to finish would be around three hours.

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    Crayola Art

    This is a fun activity for kids of all ages because they get to create something.

    Materials:

    • several different crayons that the kids can shave
    • Crayola sharpeners
    • wax paper (two sheets per child)
    • an ironing board
    • an iron

    Directions:

    1. I would recommend setting up multiple stations to alleviate some of the waiting time.
    2. Have your kids select an assortment of colors that they want to use in their artwork.
    3. Help your kids use the Crayola sharpeners to shave the crayons.
    4. Pass out the sheets of wax paper.
    5. Have the kids put a handful of shavings onto their wax paper. Tell them to spread it around as much as they want, but they should not end up with a lot of empty space. They will also need to have a decently thick layer.
    6. Top it with a second sheet of wax paper.
    7. Take that and put it onto the ironing board.
    8. Iron until the Crayola shavings are melted.
    9. Let it cool and remove the wax paper from the top and bottom.

    Your students will have a multi-colored piece of artwork to take home. They will also enjoy that it is something they get to make. This activity has tie-ins with art because they are making something, and science because you can explain how the heat melts the crayons. It should take approximately two hours.

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    As a teacher, I know how difficult it can be to keep kids entertained. These five daycare activities are not only fun and innovative but also educational. Try them and see just how fun learning can be!