Preschool Activity Kits: Butterflies

When Ben started kindergarten three years ago, it was with some sadness that I realized for the first time in some twenty-four years, I wouldn't have any preschoolers around. (One year I had four children who were under kindergarten age; now those guys are all teens, making another fast-paced, lively time of our lives!) During all those years, our practice was to have a half-hour "Preschool" time for the little guys right after we finished Bible time, the start of our school day for everyone. Working with the littles early in the morning ensured that I would have some individual time with them, and this attention from Mom helped fill their emotional cups, allowing them to then go off and happily play somewhere nearby, more or less independently. The actual things we did varied each year. Sometimes I used ready-made curricula such as Before Five In A Row or the Sonlight PK program, and other years I created my own plan. The content mattered far less than the time spent with my little people, reading good books together, learning together, and enjoying one another's company.

But now, even though I have no preschool children in our home, I do have grandchildren, with the hope of more to come for many years! Occasionally the little sweethearts end up here during our school hours. So I decided to assemble "Preschool Activity Kits" which I can set aside in a basket to use with visiting people under the age of five. Each one of these kits will be designed around a favorite children's book, and then filled with ideas and materials for simple crafts, fingerplays, snack suggestions, and science take-offs. I've got loads of ideas and have started throwing together books and resources into a crate to work on as time allows.

Some of the contents of the Butterfly Kit

The theme of the first kit is butterflies.

This one has two books:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle)


Monarch Butterfly (David M. Schwartz)

(The latter is part of the Life Cycles series, a set of inexpensive little books for very young children with gorgeous photography.)

Here's what I've put in this kit so far:

- Butterfly and caterpillar fingerpuppets knit from ChemKnit's patterns.  

- Pasta Life Cycle craft   (Paper plates, along with the necessary pasta shapes in a small zip bag)

Annie paints her egg carton caterpillar
- Egg carton caterpillar materials (egg carton, pipe cleaner for antennae, watercolor paint set also needed)

- Two caterpillar/butterfly fingerplays taken from here ("Caterpillar Change") and here ("Roly-Poly Caterpillar.")

- A small zip bag with instructions and squares of colored paper to use to make Flapping Butterflies. This activity comes from the amazing Toys From Trash website from India that features science toys that can be crafted from everyday materials.  

- Coffee filters, clothespins, and more pipe cleaners to make chromatography butterflies

- A butterfly hole punch (Annie loves this!)

- An index card with instructions for making a butterfly snack with celery (body), pretzel twists (wings), peanut butter (to hold together), and raisins (eyes)

- Butterfly felts I had sitting amongst my felt stash


I put the pieces for individual crafts in quart bags, and everything altogether fits into a gallon zip bag.I didn't include the things we use all the time such as the paint sets, markers, and glue. I covered a piece of 9"x12" foam core board with felt and put this felt board in my Preschool Activity Kit basket because this will be used with other kits as well. 

Finally, I have a larger index card with a list of all the various aspects of the kit, a list of food items needed to make the snack, plus a list of the consumable materials which I can replenish to use again with the next sweet little one.

Though my kits will be used with visiting grandchildren, this idea would also work with resident preschoolers as well. It makes a handy way to gather books, ideas, and materials in one place, in a way that you can easily re-use with your next little people. (One of the things I've wished I had done along the way was to collect my plans and ideas so I wouldn't have had to recreate everything the next time around. The activity kits are one way you could do this.)

One day last May Kara needed to make a presentation to a mom's group, but Annie had Hand-Foot-and Mouth disease, so she joined us for our school day. We read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and then picked out several of the activities. Annie had a blast, and she was able to play and work happily while Ben and Paul did their schoolwork. We've still got many more activities to do in this set, and I'm starting to think about the next ones as well.

Boys do math while Annie paints her caterpillar


Jessi Thornhill said…
Thanks for sharing this idea. Eowyn is going to kindergarten just a couple blocks from us, but this will be perfect for Anara for having school at home with me. Now I need to see what I can prep in the next two weeks. :)
Jane McNallen said…
I like your blogs. All your ideas are great inspired with bible scriptures. And your not afraid to let the kids get a little messy with paints and goos. Love it!

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