Quick Ideas: PreK-K
Holiday Ornaments That Teach
Festive ornaments are a fun way to recognize the winter holidays. Help kids practice shapes, colors, creativity, and more with these five ideas.
What you need: Eight mint candies per child, one mini pie pan per child, ribbon, small decorations such as sprinkles, toaster oven or full-size oven
What kids will practice: Fine motor skills, listening, science, shapes, colors.
What to do: Have children unwrap the mints and place them inside the mini pie pan to create a circle. Talk about the shape and color of the mints. Place pans into an oven or toaster oven on 250 degrees for about 10 minutes. Discuss what is happening to the mints when they get hot. The mints are ready when they begin to melt together. Remove them and allow them to cool. Let children decorate their mint “wreaths” with sprinkles or other small toppings. Count how many mints it takes to make the wreath and how many different decorations they’ve used. Attach a ribbon through the center and tie at the top for hanging.
What you need: 9-inch circles of tulle (you can purchase these precut or by the yard from a fabric store), assorted potpourri or whole spices like cloves and cinnamon sticks, rubber bands, ribbon, jingle bells
What kids will practice: Fine motor skills, listening, sensory skills, shapes, communication
What to do: Give each child a tulle circle. Let them touch and smell the different potpourri and spices. Encourage children to talk about how the spices feel and smell. Which ones do they prefer? Have children choose a small handful of spices and place them in the middle of the tulle. Gather the tulle around the potpourri and use a rubber band to hold it together. Use the ribbon to cover the rubber band, then attach a jingle bell. Use ribbon to attach another loop for hanging.
Clay Tree Hangers
What you need: Cornstarch clay (recipe below), cookie cutters, watercolors, ribbon, glitter glue (optional)
What kids will practice: Fine motor skills, listening, science, creativity
recipe: Mix two cups of baking soda, one cup of cornstarch, and 1¼ cups of water and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Turn the heat off and continue to stir until mixture resembles mashed potatoes. Turn onto a plate and cover with a damp paper towel until it cools. If mixture is too sticky, add more cornstarch until it’s easy to handle.
What to do: Let kids squish clay in their hands, roll it out, and use cookie cutters to create shapes. Use the watercolors to decorate the shapes. Ask what happens when two of the colors mix. Make a small hole in the top that can be used to string ribbon. Set the ornaments out to dry. Turn every 12 hours until they are completely dry. Talk about what happens when they dry out. Where does the water go? After the ornaments are dry, string ribbon through the hole for hanging, and further embellish with glitter glue.
What you need: Star shapes cut from card stock or construction paper; yarn or sturdy string for lacing; hole punch; recycled wrapping paper, tissue paper, or cotton balls; markers, crayons, or watercolors
What kids will practice: Fine motor skills, listening, shapes
What to do: Put one star on top of another and punch holes around the border. Make sure the holes line up. Give each child two stars and let children decorate with markers, crayons, or watercolors. Discuss the colors students choose to use. Can kids decorate with particular shapes or letters? Have children lace through the holes, sewing them together. Before they finish the last few holes, have them stuff some crumpled wrapping paper between the stars. After they finish lacing, tie a knot. Leave enough string to make a loop for hanging.
Family Photo Cube
What you need: Card stock, paper clips, glue, photo of each child smaller than the size of circles you use, ribbon, hole punch
What kids will practice: Fine motor skills, listening, shapes, colors, creativity, learning about families
What to do: Trace and cut six circles per child out of card stock. Talk to children about families; explain that there are all kinds. Have children draw a picture of their family on one of the circles. On the other circles, invite students to draw things about their families—their house, a favorite meal they share, a special day, etc. Save one circle for the child’s picture. Fold each circle in half and then in half again and then unfold. The creases will create an “X”. Using the points of the fold marks as your guides, create a square by folding back the edges of the circle. Glue the flaps of each square together to create a 3-D cube. Paper clips can be used to hold the edges together until the glue dries. Once the glue dries, attach the child’s photo. Use a hole punch on one of the edges to attach a ribbon for hanging. —Sheri Goad