Before children arrive in the morning, fill a box with ribbons, string, balloons, party horns, colorful flags, etc. Seal the box with adhesive tape and use a black permanent marker to draw question marks all over the box. To present the theme to your group, ask an accomplice to deliver the box. He or she can knock on your daycare door or ring your doorbell if you have a home-based daycare. Let children manipulate and shake the box and encourage them to try to guess what is inside. Next, open the box together to discover the surprise. Invite children to use the contents of the box to create a unique garland that can be hung in your daycare. You could use the flags to display the name of the theme.
(Open picture game-Surprises) Print and laminate the pictures in the format you prefer. Use them to spark a conversation with your group and ask children questions.
Children learn when they are having fun. Change their circle time spots and decorate your daycare with shiny materials to add a touch of magic to your décor. Hang stars, veiling, tulle, glittery curtains, tiny white Christmas lights, etc. from your ceiling. Prepare a special surprise for your group by gluing glow-in-the-dark stars here and there. Turn the lights off, and let the magic begin! Hang stars over your circle time area to identify children’s spots.
Every morning, have fun hiding a variety of surprises in a box that you will set in your daycare. The box mustn’t be completely hidden, but finding it must represent a challenge for the children in your group. Every time they find the box, photograph them as they discover its contents. Print and display the pictures in your cloakroom to create a special wall. Children will enjoy telling their parents all about their findings. Each day, name a child who will be your “Surprise Chief”. Be sure to give this child privileges throughout the day.
If you have a toy camera (or an old camera), let children use it to take pictures throughout the day, during different periods. At the end of the week, print the pictures and use them to create a mural that will also represent a great souvenir of the theme’s activities.
Hang a banner on a wall and encourage children to decorate it with pictures of the children in your group. Their creativity may surprise you!
(Open thematic poster-Surprises) Print and display where parents are sure to see it.
(Open poster-Surprise child of the day) Print and display on your daycare door along with a picture of the “Surprise child of the day”. Make sure each child gets a turn during the theme. The “surprise child of the day” may bring a photo album to daycare and present the pictures it contains to the group. You may also invite children to share their favorite toy, book, CD or movie. Surprise the “surprise child of the day” with a variety of small surprises and privileges throughout the day.
(Open stickers-Surprises) Print on adhesive paper and cut out the illustrations to create unique stickers.
(Open surprise gifts) Print and display along with children’s crafts and projects. Use adhesive paper to stick a gift on the floor for each child to create a “Surprise Boulevard”. If you prefer, hang the gifts from the ceiling or an indoor clothesline.
(Open educa-theme-Surprises) Print, laminate, and cut out. Hang the letters on a string or ribbon to create a garland that can be hung within your daycare. If you wish, you may even hang it outside.
(Open educa-theme-Surprises) Print and laminate the different elements representing the theme. Use them to present the theme to your group (and their parents) while decorating your daycare.
(Open educa-decorate-Surprises) Print, laminate, and cut out the illustrations. Use them to decorate your walls and set the mood for the theme.
The pictures may be used as a memory game or to spark a conversation with the group. Use them to decorate the daycare or a specific thematic corner. (Open picture game-Surprises) Print, laminate, and store in a “Ziploc” bag or in your thematic bins.
(Open picture game-Surprises) Print the pictures twice and use them for a memory game.
ACTIVITY AND WRITING SHEETS
Activity sheets are provided for each theme. Print and follow instructions. (Open activity sheets-Surprises)
Creating your own activity binder
Laminate several activity sheets and writing activities and arrange them in a binder along with dry-erase markers. Leave the binder in your writing area and let children complete the pages as they wish. At the end of the day, simply wipe off their work so the activity binder can be reused.
Writing activities-S like surprise
(Open writing activities-S like surprise) Print for each child or laminate for use with a dry-erase marker.
(Open word flashcards-Surprises) (Open giant word flashcards-Surprises) Print several word flashcards. Glue them on pieces of paper, laminate them, and arrange them in a binder. Show children how they can trace the words using dry-erase markers. If you wish, leave room under each word so children can try to write the words without tracing the letters.
(Open educa-nuudles-Surprises) Print for each child. Have children color the sheet and use Magic Nuudles to give it a three-dimensional look. Variation: You don’t have Magic Nuudles? Have children fill the spaces designed for Magic Nuudles with bingo markers or stickers. To order Magic Nuudles.
The flashcards may be used during circle time to spark a conversation with the group or in your reading and writing area. They may also be used to identify your thematic bins. (Open word flashcards-Surprises) (Open giant word flashcards-Surprises) party, surprise, joy, surprised, gift, serpentine streamers, box, to hide, astonishment, celebrate, bag, birthday
(Open word flashcards-Surprises) (Open giant word flashcards-Surprises) Print and laminate the word flashcards. Have each child pick a word and present it to the group (ex. to hide). Ask them questions to see what they know about the theme.
(Open word flashcards-Surprises) (Open giant word flashcards-Surprises) Print two copies of several word flashcards. Hang one copy of each word on an indoor clothesline with colourful clothespins. Arrange the copies in a pile on a table. Let children take turns picking a word and finding the matching word on the clothesline. When they find a match, they can place the flashcard on top of the one that was already hanging on the clothesline. Help younger children manipulate the clothespins if necessary.
(Open word flashcards-Surprises) (Open giant word flashcards-Surprises) Print several word flashcards and hide them throughout your daycare or yard. Divide your group into two teams. When you give them the signal, children must search for the flashcards for a pre-determined period, for example three minutes. When the time is up, children must be able to “read” their flashcards to earn a point for their team. If they are unable to find the correct word, the other team can earn the point if they succeed.
(Open word flashcards-Surprises) (Open giant word flashcards-Surprises) Print many copies of the word flashcards and encourage children to use scrabble tiles to write the words. Manipulating the small tiles represents a great fine motor skill exercise. At the same time, children will notice which letters make up the different words.
Associating pictures with words
(Open word flashcards-Surprises) (Open giant word flashcards-Surprises) Print, laminate, and display the word flashcards on a wall, next to your circle time area or on a large piece of cardboard that can easily be moved around. Name a word and encourage children to identify the corresponding flashcard.
ROUTINES AND TRANSITIONS
To provide your group with brief pauses filled with silence throughout the day, have fun hiding in silence to surprise people. For example, you could hide as a group when you are waiting for a child to return from the bathroom, when you see a child arrive through the window, when you know the cook is about to deliver lunch (warn her so that she doesn’t drop her tray), etc. As soon as the person enters your daycare, jump up and shout “Surprise!” with your group.
To help children look forward to naptime, add a different element of surprise each day. You could, for example, hide a “glow stick” bracelet under each child’s pillow, set a new stuffed animal on each child’s mattress, slip a new pillowcase on each child’s pillow, or organize an outdoor naptime or, exceptionally, set naptime up in front of a movie. Depending on the ages of the children in your group, you could even skip naptime altogether one day. Now there’s a big surprise!
At the end of the day, when children are waiting for their parents to arrive, hand them party horns. As a group, look out the window or keep an eye on the parking lot if you are outside. Every time a parent arrives, hide with your group and surprise the mother or father, making noise with the party horns.
ROUTINES AND TRANSITIONS
The surprise box
Insert a picture of each child in a box. This box can be used to determine the order in which children can participate in an activity or routine (handwashing, bathroom, getting dressed, etc.). Simply pick a picture out of the box to see who will be next.
Game-This is my spot-Surprises
(Open transition games-Surprises) Print each illustration twice. Use adhesive paper to secure one copy of each illustration on the table. Deposit the second copy of each illustration in an opaque bag and invite children to pick a card that will determine their spot at the table (corresponding illustration). The illustrations can also be used to determine children’s naptime spots or their place in the task train.
Clean hands bin
Fill a bin with tiny items related to the theme. Children can explore the contents of the bin once their hands are nice and clean.
SPECIAL ACTIVITIES-SURPRISE PARTY
Surprises are often associated with parties. This theme is therefore ideal for highlighting the importance of the children in your group, but also the work their early childhood educators do each day. We suggest planning an afternoon party so that parents can join in the fun when they come to get their child. However, if you prefer, you can of course plan a morning party. Read on to discover several crafts that can be used to decorate your daycare for the occasion. We encourage you to prepare for your party throughout the theme.
My party hat
(Open models-party hats) Print a model for each child. Encourage children to decorate their hat with a variety of arts & crafts materials, markers, etc. Children will be proud to wear their hat for the party.
My surprise balloons
(Open balloons-Surprises) Print, laminate, and decorate the walls of your daycare with these balloons. If you prefer, you may also use inflatable balloons.
(Open invitations-Surprise party) Print as many copies as you need. Have children color their invitation (or use the color version) and send the invitations home at the end of the day.
(Open puppets-Jack-in-the-box) Print and laminate the puppets. Add a puppet to each child’s surprise bag.
Set white paper tablecloths on your daycare tables and invite children to draw on them. They can also use fun stamps or stickers to decorate the tablecloths. Use them for your surprise party.
(Open birthday game) Print, laminate, and display on a wall, at children’s level. Blindfold one child at a time and spin him around a few times. Encourage him to try to stick the party hat as close to the correct spot as possible.
Birthday drinking glasses
Purchase white disposable drinking glasses and provide stickers children can use to decorate them.
Cut pieces of construction paper into strips (7 to 10 cm wide). Form a loop with one strip and staple it closed. Insert a second strip of paper in the first loop and staple it closed to begin a paper chain. Continue to loop strips of paper through the end loop to create a long garland.
Use your surprise party to introduce children to different types of music. Explore a variety of styles and rhythms: latin music, rock music, folk music, African music, etc. Encourage children to adapt their dancing to the beat.
Let’s make a toast!
Children love this. Prepare fruit punch and hand each child a glass, making sure to fill the glasses no more than halfway. Make a toast to your group!
Select foods from the following list and prepare them with or without children’s help.
- Fruit brochettes
- Cracker and cheese platter
- Miniature pizzas
- Sliced tortilla roll-ups
- Veggie and dip platter
- Finger foods galore
- Miniature muffins and cookies
Make your own pinata or use a store-bought version. Fill it with trinkets and candy pieces and hang it from the ceiling.
Gather as many musical instruments as you can find. Your group becomes a marching band. Have fun parading around your neighborhood. If you don’t have enough instruments, you can always use pots and pans or plastic containers and wooden spoons.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND MOTOR SKILLS
(Open playing cards-Surprises) Print and laminate. Give each child the same number of cards. They can take turns hiding the cards within your daycare. When they are done, the hunt begins! Children try to find as many cards as possible as quickly as possible.
Race to find the cards-Surprises
(Open playing cards-Surprises) Print and laminate. Hide the cards throughout your daycare or yard. Divide your group into two teams and when you give the signal, they race to find as many cards as possible in a pre-determined period (ex. three minutes).
My secret friend
At the beginning of the week, during circle time or another period, have each child pick a name (or a picture) out of a jar to determine who will be their secret friend for the week. Children must be extra kind to their secret friend throughout the theme. At the end of the week, invite children to try and guess who picked their name.
Glue a picture of each child on an empty soft drink bottle to create a personalized bowling game. Provide a medium-sized ball that children can roll towards the bowling pins to make them fall down.
The get-to-know-each-other ball
Sit in a circle with your group. Roll the ball to a child. The child who receives the ball must say his name before rolling it to another child who must in turn say his name. The game continues until everyone has received the ball at least once. For the second round, children must name the friend they choose to roll the ball to.
(Open tic-tac-toe-Friendship) Draw a tic-tac-toe grid on a large piece of white cardboard. Print the X’s and the O’s. Children take turns setting a symbol on the grid. The first child who places three identical symbols in a row wins.
(Open gold pieces) Print and laminate. Insert the gold pieces in a manipulation bin (feathers, sand, cereal, etc.). Invite children to search for them.
Photograph each child and print the pictures. Cut each picture in half. Laminate the pieces for durable use. Give each child half of his picture. Hide the other halves within your daycare. Every time a child finds a picture, he must find the corresponding child and hold his hand. The longest chain at the end of the activity wins.
Who am I?
Have children form a circle. Secretly select a child and name characteristics so that, at the end of the game, he or she is the only one left standing. For example, you may tell children to remain standing if they are a girl, if they have blue eyes, if they have brown hair, etc.
How many candles?
(Open game-How many candles?) Print the cake, the candles, and the playing cards. Children pick a card and add the correct number of candles to the cake, per the age of the child on the card.
(Open educ-puzzles-Surprises) Print, laminate, and cut out the pieces. Children must position the pieces to complete the scene.
(Open counting cards-Surprises) Print and laminate. Prepare a series of wooden clothespins on which you can paint or draw numbers 1 to 9. Children count the items on each card and place the corresponding clothespin on the correct number.
(Open educ-dominoes-Surprises) Print and laminate the dominoes. Children take turns trying to place a domino.
Snakes & ladders-Surprises
(Open snakes & ladders-Surprises) Print and laminate. Use a die and small playing pieces. The object of the game is for each child to reach the end of the board.
MUSICAL AND RHYTHMIC ACTIVITIES
(Open picture game-Surprises) Print and laminate the pictures. Arrange them on the floor in your daycare. You may use adhesive paper to secure them in place. To the sound of music, children walk or dance around the daycare. Every time the music stops, they must find a picture to stand on. Variation: If you wish, you may remove a picture at the end of each round, like in musical chairs. Several children will have to stand on one picture.
Every morning, begin the day with a surprise workout. The “Surprise child of the day” can lead the workout. Children will enjoy this opportunity to expend energy and wake up their body.
Who is missing?
To the sound of music, children move around the daycare. When the music stops, they must lie down on the floor and close their eyes. Drape a blanket over a child. When you give the signal, children open their eyes and guess who is missing.
MORAL AND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
In your computer area or on your iPad, watch a few funny videos involving people who are surprised in various situations. Children will undoubtedly find the videos quite funny. They will want to watch them a few times. Encourage them to say “Surprise!” at the right moments.
Fill a large bin with puppets. Slide one puppet over your hand and show children how they can use their hand to open the puppet’s mouth to represent surprise. They will have fun practicing with different puppets. After a while, have fun creating different scenarios involving surprise with the puppets.
Ask an accomplice to dress up as a character that the children in your group are particularly fond of (Santa Claus, a fairy, or a character from a popular television series). Invite your accomplice to visit your group and shout “Surprise!” as he enters your daycare.
(Open photo booth-Surprises) Print the various accessories, cut them out, and glue a drinking straw behind each one. Purchase hats, scarves, glasses, etc. at your local dollar store. Create a special décor using a large piece of cardboard or curtain. Invite children to pick the accessories they prefer and pose for you. You can take individual, group, or family photos. Print the pictures and display them on a wall for everyone to see.
Surprise child of the day
(Open crown-King or queen of the day) Print and decorate the crown. Have the “Surprise child of the day” wear the crown. Encourage children to be extra nice to the child who is wearing the crown.
Throughout the day, whenever the “Surprise child of the day” would like a standing ovation, the other children stop what they are doing to clap for him.
Fill a bin with scraps of colorful paper. Slide a few “surprised” emojis (stickers, yellow construction paper circles that you draw faces on, etc.) in your bin. Children can take turns digging out an emoji. Invite them to stick the emojis on a large piece of cardboard or to add them to a garland.
Emojis for you
If you have an iPad, have fun finding different emojis that look surprised with your group. Children will enjoy selecting them. Let them add the emojis to different documents. You may even send a “surprise email” including emojis to each child’s parents.
Gather as many jack-in-the-box toys you can find. Set them on the floor and let children manipulate them. Photograph the children in your group when they are surprised by the clowns that pop out of the boxes. Print the pictures and display them on a wall.
Purchase small opaque surprise bags (for party favors). Fill the bags with dollar store party favors (stickers, small containers of modeling dough, figurines, necklaces, candy, waxed crayons, etc.). Let children explore the contents of the bags.
Purchase a variety of seeds (flowers, beans, grass, etc.). Set each type of seed in a small unidentified Ziploc bag. Give each child a Styrofoam drinking glass and let them fill it with dirt. Let them plant one type of seed in the dirt. Encourage them to water the seeds regularly and wait for the surprise. What will grow in each child’s glass?
Paint children’s hands and feet and have them make impressions on a large piece of paper. Let dry. Have fun using a magnifying glass to observe the differences, the similarities, etc. Use this activity to help children notices other differences by observing their noses, the color of their eyes, etc.
Blindfold children and have them taste bitter, sweet, and salty foods.
Make snack time extra fun by drawing surprised faces on banana or orange peels. Depending on the ages of the children in your group, you may choose to let children draw surprised faces on the fruit themselves.
Snack time discoveries
Purchase opaque party favor bags and fill them with snacks. For example, you can use the bags to present a small muffin, a cookie, crackers, a tiny yogurt and a spoon, dry cereal, etc.
If, for example, you are serving granola bars at snack time, wrap each child’s bar with fun wrapping paper. Children will enjoy unwrapping it to discover their snack.
Prepare cupcakes containing a surprise with your group. Bake regular cupcakes and let them cool. Give each child a cupcake and help them cut the top off. Dig a small cylinder-like opening in the bottom part of the cupcake and have children insert Smarties. Next, have them gently spread icing over the opening and stick the top of the cupcake back into place. Give each child a pretty box. They will love bringing their surprise cake home to eat it with their family. If you wish, you may have each child prepare two cupcakes, one for themselves and one for a family member.
Prepare sandwiches for lunch. Use fun cookie cutters to cut the sandwiches. Arrange the sandwiches in opaque containers. Hand each child a container at lunch time. They will enjoy discovering the special shapes. Name the shapes together.
My surprise recipe
Ask children what their favorite foods and recipes are and make a point of preparing them during the theme. If you wish, you may even use their suggestions to create a special recipe book.
My surprise pizza
Plan a special lunch where each child can prepare his own pizza. Use store-bought pizza dough or pita bread. Set a variety of ingredients on the table and let children choose their toppings.
ARTS & CRAFTS
(Open jack-in-the-box) Print for each child. Invite children to color the clown they prefer and cut it out. Help them roll a pipe cleaner around a pencil to represent a spring. They can glue one end of the pipe cleaner behind their clown. The opposite end can be glued in a small cardboard box. Encourage children to decorate the box. Cut a small door out of the top of the box so their clown can pop out.
My surprised face
(Open surprised face) Print for each child. Have each child cut out two eyes and a mouth. Photograph each child and print the pictures on a piece of 8,5 x 11 paper. Have children glue the eyes and the mouth they cut out in the right places to create a surprised face. Display the pictures on a wall. Children will find them quite funny!
(Open envelopes-Surprises) Print for each child. Help children cut out what will become an envelope as well as the word SURPRISE. Have them fold the flaps of their envelope and use adhesive tape to seal it. Provide large hole-punches children can use to cut large colorful circles out of construction paper (easier to clean up than regular confetti). Let them add their homemade confetti to their envelope along with the word SURPRISE that they have previously colored and decorated. They will look forward to handing their surprise envelope to their parents at the end of the day.
My book of touchable surprises
(Open surprise book) Print for each child. Before presenting this activity, cut sand paper, metallic paper, cellophane paper, velvet, and bubble wrap into squares. Help children associate them to the correct pages. Have fun reading the simple text together. Children will quickly remember it. They will be proud to “read” their surprise book to a family member.
Use hole-punches to make your own homemade confetti. Seal one end of several empty toilet paper rolls with heavy adhesive paper. Fill the rolls with confetti and cover the other end of each roll with tissue paper and adhesive tape. Once all your confetti sticks are ready, let children shake them to send the confetti flying. Quickly use a vacuum cleaner to pick up the confetti. Of course, constant supervision is required.
Knot several colorful scarves end to end. Tie a small bag containing stickers, new crayons, colorful paper, glitter glue, etc. to the end of the last scarf. Set everything in a decorated box. Cut a small opening and let the end of the first scarf hang over the opening. Invite children to pull on the scarves until they discover the surprise. Let them use the contents of the bag to make a special craft.
(Open scrapbook-Surprises) Print for each child. Let children draw on their scrapbook page and help them write a unique comment.
(Open mandalas-Surprises) Print for each child. Encourage children to color the mandalas to help them relax.
(Open coloring pages theme-Surprises) Print for each child.
DIFFERENT WAYS TO USE THE COLORING PAGES
Identical coloring pages-Surprises
Print the same coloring page for each child and an additional copy for your model. Color only certain parts of your picture. Present the model to your group and ask them to color their picture to make it look exactly like yours.
Print and laminate several coloring pages and arrange them in a binder with a few dry-erase markers. Leave everything on a table for children to explore.
Play musical drawing with your group. Give each child a coloring page. Have children sit around a table. When the music starts, they must pass the coloring pages around the table. Every time the music stops, they must color the picture in front of them until the music starts again.
Give each child a picture to color. When they are done, cut each picture into pieces to create unique puzzles.
The educatall team