Wow, I've been so busy!

I've been so busy I didn't even remember not blogging in so long. We are preparing for graduation activities and the big change over coming up. I'm sure you don't want to hear about the big change over preparations (they really aren't that exciting); but I know you want to know about our preschool graduation activities preparation.

As I have mentioned before, we do a carnival for our children rather than a graduation ceremony. It's much more developmentally appropriate. So, what does preparation call for? For these next two weeks I try and get a little bit done a day.

First, I take out "the box". This is a crate full of all the materials we used last year at the carnival (posters, bean bags, cups, fishing poles, shapes, etc...). Anything that could be saved was saved and tucked away.

Also in this box is a journal of the event from previous years (most recent on top). This journal talks about set up and clean up and how the day went. We also make two lists at the end: what worked and what didn't work. This is so that we can remember what not to do and what to do again. Oh, and there is one more section that is what to try next year.

With these notes in hand, we prepare for the day. The most important is getting volunteers. I don't allow parents of graduates to work the event. They really shouldn't be doing this; they need to enjoy the day. I ask parents in the younger classrooms (which is pretty unsuccessful because they have to work), but I can usually get a few.

I also will ask local businesses and put the event in the local volunteer web page (ours is Volunteer San Diego). It is a difficult time to get volunteers because it is at 10:30 on a weekday, but sometimes we can get a few. Last year we were able to get some Marines. This was the best volunteer group; I would highly suggest it if possible. They were hard workers, self motivated, and gone things done about 5 times faster than anyone else ever has.

I had the brainstorm one day too late this year to put it out to the local high school. This would be a great high school student volunteer activity. They typically love hanging out with the children and their isn't much responsibility involved, just man the booths. That idea is going on the what to try next year list.

We then put a wish list up to the younger classroom for little trinkets and things. Some of my favorites: small boxes of crayons, small tablets of paper, small puzzles, and pens. These are perfect for children getting ready for kindergarten. I like to stay away from the candy and junk. Oh, stickers a fabulous as well.

Whatever I need to supplement, I take cash to the dollar store and pick up lots of things there. The best are to buy those dollar tubes of small animals and foam stickers. There is more than enough in those for everyone. I typically don't spend more than $20 on the entire event. But this is because of the great donation and volunteer opportunities; and we use the food bank for food.

Which brings me to the food: Our center cook prepares that in the kitchen along with the younger classes meal. We just do hot dogs in buns, baked beans, cut fruit, and milk. For the parents at the carnival we also have chips; and if the children accidentally get some...oh well. This way, since we are on the CCAFP (Child Care and Adult Food Program-federally funded) we can still claim the graduates meals because it has all the components.

After they eat, they go home. Typically the preschool teachers get to go home after this; however since we are doing continuity of care this year and the following Monday will be the movement day, the teachers will stay long enough to rearrange their new classrooms and cover for the other teachers to rearrange their classrooms as well. If time will allow, the preschool teachers will get to go home early, but it won't be more than an hour.

This was a nice bonus for the preschool teachers before; but they could only go home if they had vacation time available. If they got to go home early the year before, we would give the option to another teacher in the center to go home early. It's just a nice extra half day off.

So, any questions? I know of a center that has a camp out in the playground every year for their graduates. I will be writing about this soon as well. What other great ideas are out there? Would you like to share your graduation activities? Write it up and email it to me and I will post it: thepreschooltest at gmail dot com

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