Preschool Graduation Activities

Okay, as promised, a review of our carnival. This year was tough for volunteers, but next year I have a better plan. Add to that, one of the teachers had accidentally tossed the carnival box when she was cleaning out the staff room and I didn't discover this until the day before the carnival. YIKES! It was totally my fault, I didn't label the box and just assumed people would know what it was...NEVER ASSUME!

Needless to say, I spent the entire day on Thursday recreating all the booths. Plus, making all the name tags and don't forget dealing with the portrait place. I managed to get all the parents free pictures from a local store (their affiliate store) and one 5x7 cap and gown picture each. So, I put those into the nice framed 'diploma books' for them.

We had a HUGE turnout. I had less graduates this year and more attendance. My cook made 180 hot dogs, there were 10 left. I know not everyone ate and I didn't count, but I am putting the attendance number at around 150.

This picture is just from the beginning as people were starting to come in.

I didn't have a projector screen, but I had a projector to play a slide show off the computer. I bought a white sheet and was going to have it up between the two poles you see in the back right of the picture. Well, when we had it all up, you couldn't see it. Good thing we tried it out earlier. So, we quickly went to plan B and put the sheet over some dark blue butcher paper on the window and used that is the front of everything.

It was difficult to get every one's attention when we were ready to start so I will have to look at a way to fix that next year. I tried even to sing some children's songs and get them involved, but it still didn't quiet everyone. Once I got through my very short talk about thank-you-for-trusting-us-with-your-child's-education and all that, I showed the slide show...silence everywhere. They loved it!

After the slide show was the pledge allegiance and then to the games!

This was actually a last minute change to a boring sorting game. I walking in the other day and saw my 3 year old assistant teacher blindfolding children to do simple puzzles and thought that this would be a hit...and it was a HUGE hit. The children loved it!

Yes, I know this pictures fuzzy, but can you see the name tag hanging? On the back are 10 squares that they are supposed to put stickers in each square after they complete a game. It doesn't matter that they do the same activity 10 times or 10 different activities. Once their 10 squares are filled they can come to the prize booth and pick up their diploma and prizes. One of the booths was actually to write their name on their name tag.I also had available name tags for the siblings. This is supposed to be a day of fun for everyone as well as a celebration and farewell party for the graduates; so everyone gets to participate.

Once everyone had started and were involved in the games, I went over to the pictures. Parents were able to look through the packages of pictures and purchase them right then. This is a huge advantage because the grandparents are there who want to buy the pictures too and we get kickbacks from the sales! I was also there to pass out the prizes to the children when they came up.

The prizes were: their diplomas, stickers, and a CD that had all the pictures we had ever taken at the center with them in it as well as a copy of the slide show. Last year we had more donations so the prize bags were better, but each year is different. I also had extra sheets of stickers for the siblings as well.

People stayed around for close to three hours. Much longer than any of the traditional graduations; but way better. The families had a great time just hanging out! This is totally the way to go. I think people had much more fun, and it's so much more appropriate. I had one particular person who works with me (someone with no child development experience or knowledge) who kept making comments all week about "how important this is for the families" and basically didn't like that I wasn't doing a graduation ceremony. It was like beating my head against a wall trying to explain to her that this is about the children and what is appropriate to do with them. Anyway, in the end, after all was done, she did say that it was fun...but she still thinks that we should have done a ceremony because "it would have been easier". Glad I don't always look for the easy, but the best.

Next year I will have to work at getting more volunteers because I think this years activities were perfect: the perfect number and type. Next year I would like to up the stakes and maybe have a face painter, someone to come do some songs or storytelling, and make it even bigger. I would love to have this take off as a huge event!

Anyone want to share their preschool graduation experiences? What do you do?

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