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Friday, March 17, 2023

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Playdough Planets -- fun preschool space activity

Space, astronomy, and planets have always been some of my favorite themes, so I love sharing them with my preschoolers! This little Playdough Planets activity can be a whole project on its own, or just a fun extension you can add in to your day next time you pull out some playdough!


We started with Jupiter because I was talking about how you can see both Jupiter and Venus right now, easily, shortly after sunset, with my older kids. (If you live in the northern hemisphere, look for the two bright planets after sunset in the western sky.)

My preschooler joined us while we talked about how some awesome Jupiter Fun Facts (see below), and then I pulled out the play dough. I limited the colors to red, orange, and yellow. He happily designed four different "Jupiters" and then -- on a different day -- asked to repeat the entire activity!

Play dough is awesome for developing fine motor skills and pre-writing muscles. Pulling it out when you talk about science lets kids stretch their imagination, creativity, and design habits! And, it's a pretty clean sensory activity!

Here are some of our favorite planet Jupiter Fun Facts:


** Jupiter's atmosphere has a lot of hydrogen and helium! (I might have made some hydrogen with my kids... it's a fun little chemical reaction, but it has the potential to be dangerous.)
** Over 1,000 planets the size of Earth can fit inside Jupiter.
** Jupiter has enough gravity to hold on to more than 80 moons!
** A year on Jupiter takes more than 11 years on Earth!

If you make playdough planets, I'd love to see them! Tag me on Facebook (@PreschoolPowolPackets) or on Instagram (@Carla.Mae.Jansen)!

And click here for more awesome space themed activities, projects, experiments, and printables!




Happy Educating,
Carla


Dinosaur Made Me Sneeze!
This awesome book introduces the rock cycle with dinosaurs, volcanoes, and more!
(hint: You can buy it on Amazon or use the code Dinosaur25 at OakieBees.com!!)



Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!



Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!



Read More

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

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Preschool Music Class: Dinosaur Theme

Today I'm sharing my dinosaur lesson plan for our preschool music class.  I'm teaching a preschool class this year that combines music and movement to teach basic music concepts like pitch and listening skills while letting our preschoolers sing, run, and play! 



You can also use a lot of these ideas and activities with toddlers or kindergarteners...just adapt them for your kid's abilities!

I'm sharing my lesson plans here in case anyone else wants some ideas for Music Time!

You can see more music lessons here!

This lesson is already tested--we had a great time! This is a 40-minute class, and includes transition and movement time. :) 

Theme: Dinosaurs (1)

Gathering Activity: Play with musical instrument toys.

Hello Song: Hello Song:   
Hello *kid's name*
Hello *kid's name
Hello *kid's name*
We're glad you're here today!

to the tune of "Goodnight, Ladies."

Warm-up SongWhen I Sing La, La, La by Janeen Brady with sock puppets. Check out my Moon & Space Music Time post for more background on this song! Emphasize opening your mouth really big like the puppet when you sing, lift the puppets high for high notes, and lower the puppets low near the floor for low notes.




Action SongWe are the Dinosaurs (Let's Go Swimming) by Laurie Berkner. We stomp around, roar, and pretend we're dinosaurs while we sing along.




Instrument: Rhythm Sticks. Play Dinosaur Copy. Make a short rhythm with your sticks and then let the kids copy you. Take turns letting each child create a rhythm or beat for everyone else to copy.


Instrument: Shaker Eggs: Dinosaurs laid eggs! Talk about egg fossils, and then take shake your shaker eggs while marching, sneaking, walking, and running (as suggested) to the song "I Can Shake My Shaker Egg" by Mr. Eric and Mr. Michael.




Theme & Counting SongDinosaurs by Kiboomers. Use your fingers to count the dinosaurs and make action movements based on the words.




Instrument: Bells: Dinosaur Stomp! I use this to reinforce high notes and low notes. Pull out two bells, and line the kids up at one side of the room. They are dinosaurs crossing a river. Whenever I play two high notes, they take two steps forward and whenever I play one lower note, they take one step backwards. 
I absolutely love the Preschool Prodigies music curriculum, and pull their bells out whenever I can! 

Parachute Fun: We absolutely adore parachute games and songs! Today we did a Dinosaur Race! Everyone stands and waves the parachute while I call out two kids names to run underneath it and trade places. We ended with making a rainforest for the dinosaurs by pulling the parachute down by our ankles, lifting it high above our heads, stepping underneath it, and sitting down on the parachute, creating a mushroom-y "ocean" above us. 

Walk Around (the Moon) by Music With Nancy: I love ending our parachute time with this! Everyone holds one handle of the parachute and walk in a circle...or jump, or whatever the song suggests. ;)  When it finishes, everyone sat on top of the parachute in the middle, and the adults made a few final waves around all the kids.




Goodbye Song: I'm doing the same tune for this as the Hello Song, just singing "Goodbye *name*."  


I know I've mentioned this before, but it's related so I'll tell you again! If you're looking for a music curriculum that teaches all the music basics like pitch, rhythm, and even reading notes I have a program that I 100% recommend!  Here's my affiliate link: Preschool Prodigies is absolutely "open and go!" AND your kids learn a musical instrument (bells) through the program! We are actually using this as well, and ALL my kids LOVE it (this includes my preschoolers, elementary kiddos, and my middleschooler)!! In addition to the bells curriculum for preschoolers, they have lessons for recorder, ukulele, and more!  I am super excited about this program and am sharing it with everyone I know! I simply have not seen any other system as fun and effective for teaching music. 


I hope all of this is helpful for you! Let me know if you use any of it in your Music Time!!



Happy Educating,
Carla


Dinosaur Made Me Sneeze!
This awesome book introduces the rock cycle with dinosaurs, volcanoes, and more!
(hint: You can buy it on Amazon or use the code Dinosaur25 at OakieBees.com!!)



Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!



Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!



Read More

Friday, December 16, 2022

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New Year Goals: Increasing Early Literacy Opportunities & CCEI

Happy December!

As another year wraps up, I like to look ahead and make some goal-based plans to start in January. 

One of my goals for next year is to create more early literacy opportunities. I have a four-year old who is extremely obsessed with letters and reading, and I want to make sure he has all the support he wants to enjoy language, reading, and writing as much as possible.




These two courses are super well-organized and full of ideas that are easy-to-implement and will help me meet my literacy goals for next year.

I will tell you more about these two courses, and CCEI in general, below. 

First, I want to share my new, actionable, and measurable goals! I like goals that are super specific, so I have a very detailed little plan for what I want to try next semester. "Plans" might actually be a better word for me than "Goals." Plans feel more actionable, which is really the ultimate goal for goals! 

So my plan has three goals:

1- Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, and Fables Weekly Story. I'm getting a Fairy Tales Around the World story book, and every week we'll focus on a new story. We might read the story on the first two days, or I might tell my own version of it. On the next two days, the kids will tell their version on the story. I'll also choose a story that ties into other themed work we're doing that week. 

2- 15-minute craft or activity. My kids love art and crafts, so we'll probably do a lot of those, but at a minimum I want to do at least one hands-on activity related to the story three days a week. A few ideas I've already had include making puppets, painting, food from the story or the place the story is from,  and making characters from the story out of rocks and/or recycled supplies! Oooh, and a Story Bin, with objects or pictures from the story for them to play with on their own.

3- Fairy Tale Word Wall. I'm going to add a new little word wall with images and words from the story for that week. I'll also include a map that shows where the story is from. 

This will add in about an extra 30-minute literacy activity every day, which I think will go a long way toward increasing our general literacy activities. I think it will be awesome! 

If I'm really organized, I'll put it all together in a downloadable format for you too... buuuuut, short of that, I'll share each week's activities on the blog here so you can get it as we go along. ;) 

I'm sure you're curious how the courses I took with CCEI helped inspire these plans! 

Well, let me tell you!

First of all, Lit100: Storytelling for Enrichment, Early Literacy, and Fun introduced a variety of story-telling methods, styles, techniques, and even enrichment activities! The course explained why story-telling is important, and how it is different than just reading.

Aside from all the awesome vocabulary-building and language exposure that stories help with, they prepare and motivate children to do hard things. I love this quote from G.K. Chesterton: "Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."


Here's the slide from the course where this concept is taught:


I love how you can extend this so the kids become the heroes of each of their stories! I want to emphasize reflecting on our lives as story telling and look at ways we can solve problems with kindness and courage.

After the course discussed the importance of storytelling and different kinds of stories, it provided a lot of great instructions on how to make your own storytelling more effective, covering everything from presentation tips to ways to discuss stories with children to play acting!

Even if my weekly Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, and Fables lessons don't work out, I am feeling highly motivated right now to include some new form of story telling on a regular basis. We really just can't get enough!

So then I took Cur102: Environmental and Functional Print. This course is one of the shorter ones (only one credit hour), but it is a wonderful introduction to Environmental and Functional Print. 

Just like the Storytelling course, the Environmental and Functional Print course begins by explaining what these terms mean and why they are important:


Environmental Print is a print found in a child's every day life. It includes product labels, signs, logos, packaging, etc. Functional Print is environmental print that includes instructions or directions. For example, most preschoolers will recognize a stop sign in the street or their name on a rotation or station chart. 

As parents and teachers, we can create a print-rich environment that will help prepare our children to read and write! The course includes dozens of different ways we can do this!! 

Here are a few of my favorites that the course talked about:

** Word Walls!! You can make word walls with words your kids are actually learning to write, names for the kids in your class or home, or even words relevant to other things you're learning (like my plan to include words and maps from the stories we read).

** Provide books and writing materials in several places where the children can use them.
** Display print and change the signs occasionally.

** Point out signs during drives.

** Point out packaging and logos on products we use.

** Model reading and writing.

** Introduce children to a wide variety of literature.



Every time we increase our kids' exposure to print, their brains register the letters and words as symbols and prepare to decode them more in the future. The more exposure kids have to print, and the more they recognize it, the better! 

I love all the suggestions Cur102: Environmental and Functional Print had for practical and fun ways to increase that exposure. 

Both courses had CCEI's typical multiple choice in-course assessment questions and exam at the end of the course. Both courses also had an interactive sorting activity to help you remember and apply concepts.

CCEI courses are all super organized and full of practical ideas you can use immediately in your own teaching situation, whether it's at home or in a classroom. 

My other favorite aspect of CCEI courses is that they are available 24/7/365... any day of the year, any time of the day, I can log on to the system and take my course. This works particularly well for teachers and parents who are usually busy during normal "business hours." You can get IACET CEU credits whenever it is convenient for you! 

And, of course, I love how their courses, programs, and certificates are accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).

I think it's also worth pointing out that their course catalog has OVER 150 high-quality online courses in English and Spanish for teachers and parents in a huge variety of settings, including daycares, preschools, after-school programs, Head Start, and more! 

You can take courses a la carte, choosing the ones that will meet your specific needs like I did, or you can earn national certifications like the CDA Certificate and Director's Certificate and Early Childhood Credentials.

When you finish a course, the certificate is available immediately. You can also print a transcript of courses you've already taken.

 This is a copy of the certificate I got from their course CCEI110: Brain Development and Learning: What Every Early Care and Education Professional Should Know:


I love recommending ChildCare Education Institute for any early childhood professional development needs you might have! I have taken more than a dozen courses with them now, and I truly enjoy every one of them! 

Every single course has activity and project suggestions that you can implement immediately--it is like hands-on learning for adults! 

Feel free to let me know if you have any questions about them--I am happy to share my experiences!

And be sure to follow along next year as we jump into storytelling and word walls! 


Happy Educating,
Carla

This article is sponsored by ChildCare Education Institute. All opinions are mine--you know I only recommend products and companies I love!




Dinosaur Made Me Sneeze!
This awesome book introduces the rock cycle with dinosaurs, volcanoes, and more!
(hint: You can buy it on Amazon or use the code Dinosaur25 at OakieBees.com!!)



Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!



Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!



Read More

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

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FREE Unicorn Tic-Tac-Toe Preschool Printable

Who loves unicorns?!

My kids do! They also love to play Tic-Tac-Toe, so I am super excited to share this re-usable free printable game board... with unicorn pieces!!



Isn't it adorable?!

You can choose your unicorn from six different designs, cut them out quickly (because they're in easy-to-cut squares!), and start playing!!

Laminate them if you want them to last longer, or pop them in a plastic baggie!

They would also make an awesome file folder game: glue the tick-tac-toe "board" onto a file folder and put the pieces in an envelope. Glue the envelope onto the folder as well, so you can keep it with the game!

Free Unicorn Tic-Tac-Toe Preschool Printable:


And let me know if you have any other games or activities you would like me to make a printable set for!  ๐Ÿ’–



Happy Educating,
Carla


Dinosaur Made Me Sneeze!
This awesome book introduces the rock cycle with dinosaurs, volcanoes, and more!
(hint: You can buy it on Amazon or use the code Dinosaur25 at OakieBees.com!!)



Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!



Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!



Read More

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

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Growth Mindset Posters & ChildCare Education Institute Courses

Have you ever been curious about how growth mindset or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) might affect you and your preschoolers? I've just finished taking courses about both topics with ChildCare Education Institute (CCEI), and I am super excited to share a few things I've learned with you about them! I also made some awesome little growth mindset posters that you can print and use for free!


In this post, I'm going to share:


1- An introduction to CCEI.
4- FREE Growth Mindset Posters!

Introduction to ChildCare Education Institute (CCEI):


I love taking courses with CCEI! They are well-organized and present useful, research-backed information with fun hands-on teaching ideas and tips for organizing learning spaces. 

I've taken more than 10 courses with them, and each time I am impressed with how the courses focus on the most useful material I would look for in the course topic. 

Here are a few of my other favorite things about CCEI:


1- Everything is online! You can access your web-based account and the courses anywhere at any time--24/7/365! For busy teachers and parents, this is the ultimate in convenient professional development! You can get IACET CEU credits whenever you are ready.

2- The courses, credentials, and programs are accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commision (DEAC) and the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET). 

3- They have courses on EVERYTHING! ChildCare Education Institute specializes in high-quality online courses and programs for teachers and parents in a huge variety of settings, including daycares, preschools, after-school programs, Head Start, and more! You can take individual courses with them (they have over 150 English and Spanish training courses) or you can earn national certifications like the CDA Certificate and Director's Certificate and Early Childhood Credential.

When you finish a course, you can download the certificate immediately. This is a copy of the certificate I got from their course CCEI110: Brain Development and Learning: What Every Early Care and Education Professional Should Know:


A little about the CCEI CUR121: Establishing Growth Mindset Practices in Early Learning Environments course:


I think every parent and teacher needs this course! It is a 2-clock hour course that introduces you to what growth mindset is, why it is important, and how you can help children create growth mindset beliefs and skills. I really love the brief introduction to how brain development is affected by a growth mindset and the suggestions to help teach children these skills. 

Developing a growth mindset helps children stress less about trying new things. Children with a growth mindset worry less about failure because they know that they can always try again!

CUR 121: Establishing Growth Mindset Practices in Early Learning Environments includes a lot of practical activities, discussion prompts, and ways to set up the learning environments that are effective and can be implemented immediately! One of the suggestions was to put up growth mindset posters, so I made two sets of fun little posters to put on our walls, and I'm sharing them below! Just scroll down and click on the yellow highlighted text!

The courses all have interactive activities, reflection questions, and polls. This drag-and-drop activity from the growth mindset course lets you practice identifying growth mindset communication patterns:



Like all courses, this one ends with a short exam. Immediately upon completion, you can download a certificate.

A little about the CCEI SPN107: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder course from CCEI

I was particularly interested in SPN 107: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) because of who I work with. 

CCEI's course covers the forms of ADHD, important facts and statistics, brief diagnostics, and different ways to support children and adults with ADHD. I liked the discussions about the relationships between brain development and common characteristics in adults and children with ADHD.

Many of the instructional slides are similar to this one on the ADHD course. They present concise, helpful information that is later reviewed and included in the exam:



Some of my favorite suggestions for ways to support and teach children with ADHD included proximity control, organized spaces with reduced visual clutter, illustrated instructions, having private conversations, and using "When-Then" statements.

"When-Then" statements help kids focus on the task at hand with positive reinforcement. For example, saying the statement, "When the blocks are put away, then you can paint" is more effective than telling your children "no painting." Plus, they will be held accountable for their cleaning before moving on to the next activity.

This course also ends with a short exam. 

FREE Growth Mindset Posters!

I had so much fun making these posters that I had to make two sets! They print out perfectly on 12x18 paper, but you can also resize it to anything smaller that you'd like!


This file has both sets of posters, so you can just print whichever ones you like!
CLICK HERE to grab a copy!


I am always happy to recommend ChildCare Education Institute for any early childhood professional development needs you have! I have been absolutely happy with every course I've taken with them, including the growth mindset and ADHD courses I've shared!


Happy Educating,
Carla

This article is sponsored by ChildCare Education Institute. All opinions are mine--you know I only recommend products and companies I love!




Dinosaur Made Me Sneeze!
This awesome book introduces the rock cycle with dinosaurs, volcanoes, and more!
(hint: You can buy it on Amazon or use the code Dinosaur25 at OakieBees.com!!)



Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!



Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!



Read More

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

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Top 10 Harry Potter Things-to-Do with Preschoolers at Universal Orlando!

I love sharing awesome places to go and things to do with your preschoolers, so I am delighted to put together my guide of the Top 10 Things to do with Preschoolers at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando! I'm also including a possible 1-Day Itinerary, in case you only have one day to spend and you want a suggested to-do list with your kids! And, I have my own little set of Helpful Notes (awesome general tips that you should make sure you know)! Just keep scrolling down to make sure you see everything!


IMPORTANT NOTE: Harry Potter - themed attractions are in TWO parks at Universal Studios in Orlando. Universal Studios Florida includes The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley and Islands of Adventure includes The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade. If you're a Harry Potter fan, you really want to visit both parks. You can do it on separate days, but I'd highly recommend doing the Hogwarts Express Ride, which requires visiting both parks. More on that below!

Top 10 Things to do with Preschoolers at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando

I'm starting this list out with the ten things I think preschoolers will love the most in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal in Orlando!


#1- Hogwarts Express Ride!

Number one is absolutely the Hogwarts Express! Every preschooler I've ever known thinks trains are awesome, and most love them so much that riding a real train is a dream come true! 

I highly recommend entering the train at Kings Crossing in Diagon Alley (from the Universal Studios park) and riding it into Hogsmeade (in the Islands of Adventure park). This requires access to both parks. We used a Park to Park pass, and it worked great.

The details in the train station, lines, and entrance are fantastic too. Here are a few of my favorites:






If you're short on time, this is absolutely a must-do. Every child on the train loved it! While you travel between stations, there is even a "window" that is actually a screen that shows scenery as if you were traveling from London to Hogwarts!

If you have a little bit more time, make sure you check out some of the other activities (#'s 2-10) below! And at the end of the list, I have a possible itinerary that shows a great order to get all ten items in!



#2- Buy a wand & do some magic! 

There is an Ollivander's Wand Shop in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. You can also get wands at Wands by Gregorovitch (in Diagon Alley) or Universal's main gift shops, but the incredible shop experience at Ollivander's is worth the wait! Plus, it's very close to the entrance in Diagon Alley. 


There are SO many walls lined with a huge variety of wands to choose from:


Inside the box is a map showing where the wands will work their "magic:"


Throughout both Diagon Alley and Hogsmead, your interactive wand can cast different spells!

For example, here the wand is opening a case with a chocolate frog in it that will croak:


Other locations played music boxes, made statues move, and much more!


You can "cast spells" at any of these locations in Diagon Alley:
* Brown E. Wrights Blacksmith Shop
* Pillwinkle's Playthings
* Scribbulus
* Slug and Jiggers Apothecary
* The Magical Menagerie
* The Mermaid Fountain (by Carkitt Market)
* Wesley's Wizard Wheezes
* Wiseacres

And you can "cast spells" at any of these locations in Hogsmeade:
* Dervish and Banges
* Honeydukes
* Madam Puddifoot's
* McHavelock's
* Sprintwiches
* Tomes and Scrolls Specialist Bookshop
*Zonko's Joke Shop

Inside Ollivander's is a panel where you can learn more about your own personal wand...


And a collection of some of the most famous wands in wizarding history! Can you see the wand from Nicolas Flamel?!



#3- Drink a butterbeer!

This Harry Potter classic is easy to get in several stands and restaurants. 


My favorite place to eat was The Leaky Cauldron (Diagon Alley side), and it included the awesome "souvenir cup" in the picture above.





The Leaky Cauldron is pretty popular (because it is amazing!), but you can actually pull up the menu on the app and order while you're in line! Our food was delivered just a couple minutes after we sat down!


#4- Knight Bus and Phone Booth!

Number four is the Knight Bus and phone booth! These are really close to each, and are just so novel for kids! Everyone loves a bus, especially one with a talking head-driver and beds in the back! The phone booth is basically across the street, and something that most of our kids will never actually use in real life!





#5- Ice-cream and Treats! 

Kids love ice-cream and treats! You can visit the famous Honeydukes in Hogsmeade, get ice-cream at Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlour in Diagon Alley, and get other treats at Sugar Plum's Sweet Shop in Diagon Alley! 


Getting Every-Flavor Jelly Beans was high on our list of things our kids wanted, so this bulk jelly bean display was pretty exciting. The cute little gift boxes were a great treat for friends at home too:


Honeydukes also had a no-sugar added gummy worm treat--it was actually the only "sugar free" treat we were able to find easily, so we grabbed a bag full of them for my sugar-free child as well!


#6- Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle at sunset!

As the sun sets, the Hogwarts Castle in Hogsmeade lights up. When the sky darkens, a whole show featuring dementors, fires, spiders, and much more projects across the castle! It is epic! The grand finale includes fireworks! It's the perfect way to end the day!




#7- Check out the shops... and fake shops! 

There are SO many cool shops and window-only shops in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade! Weasley's Wizarding Weazes, Quality Quidditch Supplies, and Ollivander's Wands are amazing in Diagon Alley. Owl Post, in Hogsmeade, actually has real post cards and stamps! You can send mail or collect a new set of postage! 





Make sure you hang out in Diagon Alley long enough to see the dragon on Gringott's blow fire! It's literally thousands of degrees hot--we felt it from all the way down by The Leaky Cauldron! Rumor has it that it will happen about every ten minutes!

Also, I made a fun Harry Potter Scavenger Hunt for you! Most of these different shops or things you can see in the shop windows as you walk through both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade! Just CLICK HERE to download it!


#8- Hippogriff Ride

If your kids like rollercoasters, Flight of the Hippogriff is perfect for young children! It's in Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure), and only requires children to be 36 inches tall (though if they're under 48 inches they need an adult supervisor to ride with them). 



#9-  Escape from Gringotts Ride 

If your kids are tall enough and enjoy rollercoasters and 3D and 4D effects, and don't mind dark flashes or rooms, they will love Escape from Gringotts Ride. I realize this is a very narrow group of preschoolers, but mine both fit in it, so I wanted to share the details in case yours do too!

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is the only ride in Diagon Alley, and it is pretty epic. Before the ride even begins, the line winds through Gringotts bank, past goblins and chandeliers, underground in the vaults, and more! During the ride you see Harry, Ron, and Hermione, but also scarier villains like Voldemort and Bellatrix. 

Kids need to be 42 inches tall and riders under 48 inches need to have a supervising adult ride with them. Here are a few fun shots from the line:




After you take an "elevator" down into the vault, you get 3D glasses, climb up a set of stairs toward some epic cave-y stalactites, and finally board the ride.


Each of my kids would have been tall enough to go on this ride by the time they were four years old, but the dark rooms and scarier sequences would have been too much for one of them. The others would have loved it! I saw lots of young kids enjoying the cool visual effects, and I think most preschoolers would love it! If you're not sure about your own child handling the darker rooms, I'd suggest giving it a try--there are several exit locations throughout the line that you could take if your child gets overwhelmed.

Also, see my Helpful Notes below about the Child Swap.


#10- Hagrid's Motorbike & Forbidden Forest

Number ten is for two more rollercoasters that your preschoolers need to be a little taller for:
Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure (48 inch minimum) and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (48 inch minimum height). I'm grouping them together since they're both fast rollercoasters in Hogsmeade. 

My preschoolers didn't reach this height requirement until they were five, but if you have tall kids who like fast rollercoasters, these are fantastic! If your kids are too short for them, but they don't mind scenic lines, you might want to take them through the lines anyway and use the Child Swap for the adults in your group.

The line for Hagrid's ride weaves through his garden, hut, and even castle. You see dragon eggs, pumpkins, and more! This is the only ride that does not have an option for an Express Pass, but the scenery for the line is so fun, we didn't mind walking through it! Here are a few pictures:




The Forbidden Journey is actually inside the Hogwarts Castle. It uses stunning visual, 3D, and 4D effects as you travel around the castle and Forbidden Forest! Here is a preview of the entire ride:

This line weaves through Dumbledore's office, past the sorting hat, and a huge variety of other secrets in the castle. It also has a Child Swap option (see my Helpful Notes at the end)!


You've reached the part where I share my suggestions for a possible 1-Day Itinerary! This is just a short and simple outline of the order I would suggest doing things to make sure you hit all the most important things I listed above!

Before I share it, I want to point out that if you have young preschoolers who need daily naps, I strongly recommend spending at least two days on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Orlando. On one day, start at Universal Studios, do the Diagon Alley activities, and take the train to Hogsmeade. Then go to your hotel and take naps. On the second day, go do the Hogsmeade activities in the morning and then return to your room for naps.

If your preschoolers can handle a day without naps, or even napping in a stroller, you can probably do this one-day itinerary. The advantage of spending one full day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is that it leaves your other days for the rest of the fun at Universal... and there is plenty to do outside of Harry Potter!

For this itinerary, you need access to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. We used a two-park ticket.

Here is my possible 1-day itinerary for you! 


It includes all of the things I think are absolutely must-sees in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for preschoolers... and their parents!

#1- Knight Bus & Phone Booth. If you're interested in Number 12 Grimmauld Place, this is the time to pop over there too--it's very close! And you might see Kreacher peeking out the window! Knight Bus & Phone Booth are discussed above. Here's Grimmauld Place:

#2- Go through the magical wall to enter Diagon Alley!
Seriously, this is the coolest thing ever! 


#3-  Buy a wand at Ollivander's! Use the map to work your magic.

#4- Check out the shops in Diagon Alley! Do the Scavenger Hunt I made.

#5- Eat at The Leaky Cauldron. Get a butterbeer!

#6- Ride Escape from Gringotts!

#7- Get ice-cream at Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlour.

#8- Ride Hogwart's Express train to Hogsmeade!

#9- Check out the shops, use your magic wand, and work on the scavenger hunt at Hogsmeade.

#10- Ride Flight of the Hippogriff.

#11- Ride Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure! (if your kids are over 48")
 
#12- Ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey! (if your kids are over 48")

#13- Get dinner at The 3 Broomsticks!

#14- Get candy at Honeydukes!

#15- Watch the Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle!



Here are five helpful notes and general tips! These are super important to know about--if you take young children to theme parks regularly, you probably already know about them. But if this is your first big trip, definitely take a minute and make sure you're familiar with these!

#1: Child Swap. Every rollercoaster in this article has a child swap option. This means that if your family waits through the line with one child who is too short for a ride, once you reach the end of the line, adults can swap out sitting with the short child. For example, say Mom, Dad, Older Sister, and Younger Sister go through Hagrid's Motorbike ride line. They reach the end and Mom and Older Sister get on the rollercoaster. Dad and Younger Sister wait off to the side. When Mom and Older Sister return, they go sit with Younger Sister and Dad takes a turn on the ride. Then they all exit together. 

There are a a variety of Child Swap options on different rides, so it is important to tell the employee at the beginning of the ride that you intend to use the Child Swap option. They might let the parent sitting with the younger child(ren) wait in the Child Swap room while the other parent waits through the line. Some rides have an actual room while other rides just have a partitioned area near the ride entrance. Ask an employee at each ride so you know what to expect!

#2: Lockers. All of the "thrill rides" have lockers nearby for your bags, phones, glasses, etc. There are small free lockers and larger "backpack-sized" lockers for a small fee. If you're doing a Child Swap option, the parent staying with the child can keep a small bag. 

#3: Snacks & Express Passes.  Number three is all about making the lines more pleasant for your children. Always bring snacks and water bottles in lines! There are trash bins you can use as you get closer to the rides so your hands are empty on the actual ride. Nothing is worse than a hungry or thirsty child in line! On that note, if your children don't do well in lines, consider purchasing an Express Pass. There are express lines for every ride except Hagrid's Motorbike. The express lines usually cut the wait time down from about an hour to about fifteen minutes. 

#4: Strollers. If your kids are not used to being on their feet all day, consider bringing or renting a stroller. You cannot bring strollers into the ride lines, but there is stroller parking near every ride. Strollers can be a little bit big, but they are super useful for carrying kids around... and all their stuff!

#5: Get the app! The Universal Orlando app has TONS of information! It includes wait times for lines, height requirements for different rides, and even options to order food online! It is SUPER helpful, and you definitely want it! It might take a bit of data to download, though, so make sure you have it and have looked at how it works before you get to the park!

That's my HUGE guide to bringing preschoolers to The Wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter! I hope you have a wonderful time, and that you found this guide super helpful!


Happy Educating,
Carla

This post was written in cooperation with Universal Orlando. All content and opinions expressed are mine personally and do not reflect any official statements from Universal. As always, I share my honest thoughts, and only recommend places and products I love!  ๐Ÿ’– Carla






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