Thursday, October 25, 2018

Escape Rooms for Early Childhood

Escape Rooms for Pre-K and Kindergarten | Apples to Applique

Escape rooms and breakout activities are all the rage right now! And for good reason; they encourage movement, collaboration, and problem solving. These activities tend to be geared toward older kids, but what if I told you they are awesome to use with younger students, as well?

I've taken the concept of an escape room and simplified it to make it appropriate for Pre-K and kindergarten students. Each game has options for playing as a whole group, small group, or even individually. Depending on the activity, I also offer options for differentiating as needed. I made them flexible enough that you can play them in one session, or over several days, depending on the amount of time you have and on the attention span of your students.

Each game has a story line to follow, so kids can really engage with the activity and activate their imaginations. I chose a specific skill to target with each game, making this is a great way to give kids a chance to practice and demonstrate understanding of a certain skill.

Escape the Apple Cider Stand focuses on matching numbers to quantities. There are four activities: matching cards with pictures of apples to apple crates with numbers, writing numbers of objects in a ten frame (options for writing and tracing included, depending on the level of your learners), filling ten frames to match numbers, and a "write the room" activity to match the number of objects in each picture to the correct numeral.

Escape Rooms for Pre-K and Kindergarten | Apples to Applique

Escape the Pumpkin Patch focuses on rhyming. There are four activities or puzzles for students to solve: matching rhyming pictures, generating rhymes, finding objects that rhyme, and a rhyming "write the room" activity.

Escape Room: Thanksgiving! works on sequencing. The story is about preparations for Thanksgiving dinner, and the activities focus on ordinal numbers and putting steps in order, which is great for building listening comprehension skills. The activities are cut and paste sequencing, putting step cards in order, pocket chart sequencing activity, and a "write the room" activity.

Escape Rooms for Pre-K and Kindergarten | Apples to Applique

Escape the North Pole may be my favorite one yet! What 4- or 5-year-old kid wouldn't love to be part of a story about helping Santa get ready for Christmas? This escape room focuses on shapes. The four activities are identifying and coloring by shape, drawing shapes (includes an option for tracing for kiddos who need it), matching shapes, and a shape "write the room" activity focusing on shape attributes (with an option for differentiation included).

These activities are so much fun, and I really tried to make them as simple as possible for you, with no special locks or boxes required. All you provide are some manila envelopes to hide the clues and puzzles in. And of course, each one includes clear setup instructions.

More great escape rooms are in the works! Check out my growing bundle to get the 4 listed here, plus 8 future breakout activities, for one low price! The price will go up each month as a new escape room is added, so buy early to save the most money!

I hope you enjoy trying out these activities with your students; I would love to hear how it goes in your classroom!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Pumpkin Patch Dramatic Play

A whole corner of my room has been turned into a pumpkin patch, and it's my favorite thing! I even stayed late after school on a Friday to get it ready, and it was worth it!

Pumpkin Patch Dramatic Play Printables | Apples to Applique

I know there are lots of pumpkin patch dramatic play options out there, but I couldn't find any that were just what I was looking for, so I opted to make my own. (You can find it here!)

First there is this cute pennant banner. You could use yarn or something to tie it together, but I happened to have some raffia in my classroom already, and the end result is too perfect!

Pumpkin Patch Dramatic Play Printables | Apples to Applique

I found large pumpkins at the Dollar Tree, and small pumpkins and gourds at Walmart. I made signs for each type so that students could work on their sorting skills.
I also made price tags and a pricing sheet to encourage numeral recognition.

Pumpkin Patch Dramatic Play Printables | Apples to Applique

I know, you're probably thinking I'm crazy for including a hayride, and I may rethink this decision after the kids have had a chance to use it, but it was such a good way to incorporate gross motor skills. The wagon is from a set of Mega Blocks, so I just set a hay bale down inside. I left the hay bale wrapped in the cellophane from the store to contain the mess! Obviously the kids won't actually be riding on the hayride, but I may let them put a doll on top and pull it around. Otherwise, I'll tell them to use their imaginations and pretend they are on a hayride.

Pumpkin Patch Dramatic Play Printables | Apples to Applique

Another way I am adding in gross motor skills is by giving them a toy rake and letting them rake up fake leaves. I have done this in past years, and they love this activity!

Pumpkin Patch Dramatic Play Printables | Apples to Applique

I cannot wait for my kids to come into school Monday morning and see their pumpkin patch. I'd love to hear your experiences with pumpkin patch dramatic play!