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Early childhood education activities and lesson plan ideas that enhance preschool curriculum during the beginning of the school year and help young children become familiar with their classmates and classroom environment.  Lots of songs and teacher tips that are especially suitable for beginning the school year and when "new" children enter your class.

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literacy for separation anxiety    The Kissing Hand
To ease separation anxiety on the first day of school is the aim of this preschool activity by Martha R.

Materials: The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn,  white construction paper, paint, and paint brushes.

Description: I read the story The Kissing Hand using a raccoon stuffed animal.
After discussing the story with the children, I put a heart sticker (which comes from previously placed heart stickers in the raccoon's pouch) on each child's hand. This helps preschool children to remember that Mom or Dad loves them.  If they have a problem later in the day, I remind them to look at their sticker and put it up to their cheek. 
After the story, I have each parent to help their child make a hand print and then make one of theirs on the same paper.  It works really well. The children and the parents enjoy it!  I post them in the hallway for parents to admire.

Back to School Book
This early childhood idea by Jackie O. helps teach pre reading skills and helps  preschool children learn the names of the other students in the class.

Materials: Folder with clips inside, clear plastic insert sheets, camera and film, (Polaroid if possible).

Description: Prior to the children arriving I type a page for each child. On the bottom of the page in large letters I type "My name is____________. " 
Don't forget to type one for each staff member too. The first day of school I  take each child's picture. I glue the picture on each child's individual page and put all the pages in the folder. On the cover of the book I have a picture of the class.

Comments: I like to read this book the first few weeks of school during circle. It only takes a few days before the children are reading it with you.  I also put it on the book rack for the children to "read." 

Take Home Bags
All communication from the school goes in this bag and all communication from home comes back to school in this bag created by Mary B.

Materials: 1 ziploc type bag per child

Description: At the beginning of the year I assign one bag to each child.  On it I write:  Take Home Bag; the child's name and Please return every school day!
I then inform the parents that I will send everything home in this bag:. letters from me or the school; Scholastic book order forms; trip permission sheets; monthly calendars; work from school and library books, if they fit. I then ask that they send all their notes, milk money, book orders, etc., to school in this bag.  This way I know that the parents have received everything I've sent home, and it's not lost in their child's backpack. Parents also know that I've  received their notes and items.  Parents love it and I do too, because we all know where to look for any form of communication.

Comments: I use these bags in my Junior Kindergarten class but you could use it  with younger or older students.

Gayle's Note: Two picture books that help with separation anxiety.

The Kissing Hand  by Audrey Penn
Oh My Baby Little One by Kathi Appelt
Cool Cooking: School Bus Cakes
Preschool children create their own school bus treats during this preschool activity by Robyn B.

You will need: One Twinkie snack cake per child, yellow frosting, 1 bag Gummy Lifesaver candies.

Description: Cut out a small rectangle from one end of the Twinkies to make it look like the hood and windshield and so it is shaped like a bus. Spread yellow frosting on the Twinkies and add Gummy Lifesavers for the wheels. Now it looks like a bus! Serve with milk and fresh fruit.

Book List:
I Like School  by Michael Mantean
Going to School  by Anne Civardi
Friends at School by Rochelle Bunnett

Job Chart Ideas
Show toddlers and preschool children their job of the week with these ideas from Pat F.

Materials: Paper

Description: Two simple ideas for job charts for 2 year olds employ a very familiar concept.
1.  I only have 4 jobs in my classroom.  I have made a kite for each job, using words and pictures to describe the job.  I have written the name of each child on the 'bow' that is tied to the kite tail to help it fly.  Now each child knows  their job.

2.  I have also set up mailboxes, similar to those found at the end of a      driveway, with the name and a picture of each job.  Each child's name is on an  envelope that I can place in the mailbox as a way to show who has the job.

Modeling Class Rules
Try this easy technique by Amy K. to help with class management.

Materials: 2 puppets, similar, but not the same.

Description: Each year, I use my orange and purple hairy puppets to model "good choices". Usually, purple is the one who makes the "not so good "choices!  This is fun, and it works great with the 4 and 5 years old youngsters.

I start talking with the puppets and they are talking to each other.
For example, playing with others.  Orange will be playing with some of the students and Purple will come in and pull on one of the students shirts, arm, etc. trying to play.

I then stop and I start talking as myself asking if that was a good choice, etc.  It is a riot, and the kids do offer better choices and we model the better choice.  I often catch the students playing with the puppets during free choice, making  good and not so good choices!

Back to School People
Preschool and kindergarten children become excited about pre-school when they recognize their names and teachers involve the family with the class during this beginning of the school year activity by Erin.

Materials: Large poster board.

Description: We always have our Open House before school starts to give children a chance to meet their teachers and explore their classroom.  On that night, I also give each child a large poster board cut-out of a person with instructions for them (and family) to decorate it to look like the child.  They bring it back on the first day of school and I hang them all along one wall with their names underneath.  They stay there all year and get sent home on graduation day.

Comments: Parents and children loved this!  The kids love to point out themselves when we have guests in our classroom!

Name Tag for Desk or Table
This self esteem preschool activity promotes name recognition and also helps children quickly find their desk or table. Rhonda P. calls this idea a "pic quicker".

Materials: Polaroid film (one per child), white paper, crayons or markers, contact paper, glue or tape.

Description: I let the kids color and decorate their picture. Put the child's name at the top in big letters. Take a picture of each child (waving, thumbs up or just acting goofy). Glue or tape the child's picture underneath their name. Apply to a clean dry surface and cover with clear contact paper. They will say. "Hey, that's me" and smile!

Lots of Name Recognition Activities are in the Rainbow Resource Room.

Look Who Came To School Today!
During circle time build positive self-esteem when greeting children with this song by Barbara.

 Look Who Came to School Today
     (tune: Mary Had A Little Lamb)

     Look who came to school today
      School today, school today
      Look who came to school today,
      _____(child's name) did.

The child named gets up and dances as children clap.  Repeat with all the children's names, including the teacher's name.

School Brown Bear Book
Help youngsters learn the names of the adults they will see at school with this back to preschool book by Pam S.

Materials: Photos of each person the children will come in contact with at school, construction paper, binder or rings.

Description: Make a book based on the Brown Bear, Brown Bear  book.  Fill the book with the names and a photo of each person the children will come in contact with during their school day. For example: "Children, children, Who do you see?  We see Ms. Kim (the director) looking at us."  Include yourself in the pages.   You can also make a book using the names of the children in the class.

Pick Up Toys
This preschool activity by Tawanda B. encourages very young children to notice and retrieve toys or manipulatives that may have fallen to the floor.

Description: When toys or manipulatives fall to the floor, the teacher or children can begin singing this song softly to remind others that there are items on the  floor that need to be picked up.

 Sung to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"

 Pick up, pick up, pick up toys,
 Every little girl and boy.
 Look around and you will see,
 All the things that shouldn't be.
 Pick up, pick up, pick up toys,
 Every little girl and boy.

If you need more songs take a look at
Preschool Rhymes for Transition Times.

socialization song Circle Time Song
In Robyn's classroom, toddlers and very young children are encouraged to develop socialization and color recognition skills with this song.

Circle Time Song
(tune: "The Muffin Man" or improvise your own)
Do you know my friend (Valerie),
My friend (Valerie), my friend (Valerie).
Do you know my friend (Valerie),
She's wearing yellow today!

Do you know my friend (Joey),
My friend (Joey), my friend (Joey).
Do you know my friend (Joey),
He's wearing blue today!

While singing this song children will search for each child by name, color of clothing, and delight in hide and seek. 

Comments: I often hear my students singing this song on their own to their friends. Lots more activities for very young children are in  Activities For Toddlers

Circle Time Rhyme
Large groups and circle times give preschoolers the opportunity to show their creations to classmates.  This rhyme is recited by each child as he/she has a turn placing his/her daily work on display.

What I made today
Was something made by me (point to self)
Now I place it on the floor
For everyone to see   (display what was made)
Teachers encourage young children to talk about each item. Examples: "What did you use to make your__? What classroom area/center did you work in in?  What  colors did (child's name) use?" etc.

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