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!  

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