Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Preschool activity boxes

I have a new article up at Heart of the Matter about homeschooling preschool. To go along with that, I thought I would give details about the preschool activity boxes I made several years ago and continue to add to.

These boxes have been great. It contains all of the stuff I have for the preschool set and allows me to rotate through the various activities. They only come out during 'school time', so they stay fresh and because they are a limited commodity, it makes them more attractive to play with. They are filled with a wide variety of activities. Some are toys which I knew my children would enjoy, but which they never seemed to get around to playing with, others are actual made or bought learning activities, and a couple are designed to develop manual dexterity.

I'm going to list each box which I made and any important details about it. Use these as a way to spark your own ideas for creating your own. Other general comments... each box is in a labelled bin. On the underside of the lid I wrote out detailed instructions as to how to use each box. This way an older sibling can help the preschooler use the box.

So, the list of our 18 preschool boxes:

1. Wooden flowers box
  • Contains a set of wooden blocks which can be built into different flowers. It might have been made by Melissa and Doug. I'm noticing it is starting to feel a little young, so this one may be leaving the rotation soon.
2. Gears box
  • I just took a toy gears set and put it in a bin. This was one of the toys that were ignored, but were fun when they were remembered.
3. Pattern blocks box
  • I had collected a lot of pattern blocks over the years and a lot of activity books and cards to go with them. Into a box they went. This is one of the boxes that everyone likes to use.
4. Slate and chalk box
  • This is just what it sounds like... two small slates, a box of white chalk, a box of colored chalk, and an eraser. I don't get it out very often because for some reason the sound of the chalk on the slate makes my skin crawl.
5. Tracing and cutting box
  • Contains a couple of boxes of simple stencils, paper, pencil, and a couple of pairs of scissors. The child traces designs and then cuts them out.
6. Sponge building box
  • I took several regular sponges of different colors and cut them into strips. They are a great first building set because the texture of the sponge helps the strips stick together and when they do fall they are quiet and don't break. Plus, with the different colors, you can have more than one child play and have contests building towers... or whatever.
7. Lacing box
  • This contains all of our lacing cards. I'm thinking I might make some new ones to add which match whatever unit study we are working on.  I'm going to find the appropriate pictures, laminate them, and then use a hole punch to make the lacing holes. There is already a lot of lacing cords in the bin, so I don't have to worry about that.
8. Fastener box
  • I took some pictures of this one to give you an idea of what I'm talking about. This box includes different types of fasteners a child would encounter getting dressed. I cut the front button plackets off an old shirt for practice buttoning:

The front off an old pair of pants for practice with doing a button and fly:

The front off an old pair of jeans for practice doing a button fly and a cute lacing shoe made by Melissa and Doug:

9. Rubbing box

  • This contains a couple of sets of rubbing plates. These are specially designed plates with different textures that a child can practice making rubbings with. I also included paper and flat crayons.
10. Bead stringing box
  • Just what it sounds like. To make it more interesting I also included wooden tags with letters on them which can be strung together to make words.
11. Wooden game box
  • This box contains all those cute wooden games which I habitually bought my children and which then sat on a shelf. I know one of them is a rocking moon with wooden cylinders that are stacked on the moon. These games actually get played when they come out in the preschool boxes.
12. Counting box
  • This box has a huge assortment of buttons plus index cards with the numbers 1 through 12 written on them. The child can sort buttons (by color, by size, by shape) or place the correct number of buttons on the cards or count all the pink buttons, etc., etc. H. used this box a lot last year when she first came home since she knew how to write numbers, but had no idea conceptually what those symbols meant.
13. Sorting box
  • This is the box which I spent an inordinate amount of time creating. I found a bag of wooden blanks in four different shapes and each of those shapes had three different sizes. There are small, medium, and large circles, squares, stars, and hearts. I then found four paper boxes in the same four shapes. The time-consuming part came when I sat down to paint it all. I used red, blue, yellow, and green and painted the shapes an assortment of colors and the boxes each one color. This way the child can sort the shapes into the proper boxes or sort them by color into the correct colored box or sort them by size. The possible activities are pretty endless.
14. Lincoln log box
  • Lincoln logs, obviously. Except now they get played with.
15. Tweezers use box
  • This is a new one this year, designed to help with fine motor skills. I put in five small containers and piles of aquarium gravel in five different colors. The idea is to use the tweezers (included) to pick-up and sort the gravel into the small containers. 
16. Metal letters box
  • I hesitate to share this one with you because you'll never find these things. My father taught first grade for much of his professional life and stored a lot of his school supplies in his garage. One day when I was helping to organize it, I came across this box of wonderful metal letters. They look like brass and each letter is made to connect to another so that you can make words. There are even punctuation marks. These are very, very cool to play with, but I've never seen them anywhere else.
17. Pouring box #1
  • This box has two small, wide pitchers. I poured a bunch of dried lentils into one so that the child can practice pouring the beans back and forth between the two pitchers.
18. Pouring box #2
  • This box has a small pitcher, two small ramekins, and three small glasses. It is help with water pouring skills, first filling the ramekins and then pouring into the small glasses. These items are all breakable because I think using real things aids in carefulness.
There they are. I actually love creating these boxes and continue adding to them. Have fun making your own.
One thing I wanted to share... remember those children in Bulgaria whom I've been advocating for? Well, I found out that their files were sent back. This means that they cannot be advocated for on Reese's Rainbow or have any funds donated towards their adoptions. It means they are essentially invisible and unwanted. It tells the government and the agencies that yes, indeed, their initial assumptions were correct. No one wants a child like these. They are not worth it.

But they are! They are created by God in His image and we are called to care for them. They are truly the least of these. I cannot let them go; I think about them in nearly every free moment that I have. I'm going to post one of their pictures here at the bottom of each of my posts each day. Would you join me in praying for each of these children? Pray that a family would come forward who is willing to adopt them. Love them. Pray that they will know they are not forgotten? There is still hope for these little ones as their files can be specially asked for, it just adds time to the process.

Here's Theodore. He's 10 years old, but because of where and how he has been living is much younger developmentally. He is by all accounts a sweetheart. Please pray for him.

Edited:  I just read that a family is trying to obtain Theodore's file and pursue his adoption. Hallelujah! Pray that they are successful. One down.


Lucy said...

I like the aquarium gravel idea - except I think I would put chopsticks in there too.

thecurryseven said...

Ooooh.... I hadn't thought of chopsticks. I like it!


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