It's the end of the school year and your little one is getting ready to move to big kid school—kindergarten! Celebrate the new beginning by throwing a very special graduation party complete with friends, crafts and lots of energetic fun. From creating your own invitations and brainstorming fun crafts to setting up a wacky "Get to Kindergarten" obstacle course, this step-by-step guide is packed with fun ideas to get you started.
What You Do:
Make the Invitations
- Design the inside of the invitation to look like a diploma. Using a word processing program, create two identical diplomas on the page, one on top of the other. Many word processors come with diploma and/or award templates that you can use to create this part.
- Type the important party information in each diploma, such as date, time, location, RSVP contact info, and reason for the party. Design a fun border around each diploma, and add a graduation-themed clipart image if you like.
- Print out as many diplomas as you'll need for your invitations. Each print-out includes two diplomas, so print one sheet per two invitations.
- Help your child fold the card stock in half and cut out the diplomas.
- Ask him to paste one diploma to the inside of each folded card. Let dry.
- To add decoration to the front of the invitations, encourage him to draw a special picture on the front of each one. Try a school-themed design such as a stack of books or a box of crayons, or something simpler such as a few brightly-colored shapes.
- Mail or hand deliver the invitations to party invitees.
Plan the Crafts
- Encourage your child to choose one favorite theme from the school year such as the alphabet, dinosaurs, colors, or community helpers.
- Ask him to help you think of 2-4 crafts he wants to do during the party. Shoot for simple, hands-on activities that kids can do without too much guidance. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Make a mixed media collage in the theme of choice using colored construction paper, gift wrap, glue, and other craft decorations.
- Provide kids with precut shapes that they can glue together or onto a sheet of paper to create designs in the theme of choice (dinosaurs and animals are fun themes for this craft). Let them decorate their designs with markers or paint.
- Let the kids decorate the cardboard schoolhouse for the obstacle course in the next section. They can paint it, color it with markers, or glue construction paper shapes onto in.
- Set up a finger painting station and encourage kids to experiment with different colors and shapes. It's guaranteed to be messy, but kids love it!
Set Up the "Get to Kindergarten" Obstacle Course
- On the day of the party, create an obstacle course in the backyard with a cardboard "school" at the end. Kids participating will race through the obstacle course trying to reach the schoolhouse. Once they get there, they've made it to kindergarten!
- Start by creating the cardboard schoolhouse. Use one large cardboard box for the building, and cut the other up for the roof. Cut out a door and windows from the first cardboard box, then decorate it with paint or markers. Glue the roof on top, and finish by writing or painting "KINDERGARTEN" in big block letters on the front.
- Choose a flat, wide open space for the obstacle course. Place the schoolhouse at the end of the course.
- Now arrange "obstacles" throughout the course that kids will have to interact with before they can progress. Set up a few physical obstacles such as cardboard boxes or large toys that kids will have to run around, but also include a variety of activities that kids will have to do. A few ideas:
- Letter or number hopscotch
- Alphabet bean bag toss: lay large construction paper letters on the grass and have kids toss bean bags on them in the correct order.
- Hula hoop: challenge kids to hula hoop for 10 seconds, or simply hold up the hula hoop and have kids jump through it.
- Jumping jacks
- Juggling: challenge them to juggle for 10 seconds (they don't have to juggle successfully, just ask them to try).
Your child's preschool graduation party should be a special time to celebrate her achievement and toast her future success in big kid school. As a tasty and sweet end to the festivities, delight guests with a special, brightly colored graduation cake or cupcakes decorated with fun frosting letters and numbers.
Erica Loop has an MS in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education. She has many years of teaching experience working in early childhood education, and as an arts educator at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.