The tools we use in preschool

For our very first day of preschool, we jumped right in and explored the tools we use in preschool.  The “teaching” goal of our day was to give the children a chance to learn about our classroom and where to find our “tools” and how to use or take care of our tools. ..

During circletime, we discovered several tools tucked away in our story box that we can begin to use right away like glue, scissors, magnifying glasses, tweezers, crayons, markers, and more…

Each tool had its own very short story to tell.  For example, a glue bottle likes to be squeezed but when you are done squeezing the glue – the lid needs closed up tight so that the glue wont dry up!  Not every story will be remembered right away, but it gives us a starting place for building up knowledge about our tools for preschool.

As we talked about each tool, we passed it around the circle so each child could take a closer look at the tool…

And then we spent our day actually using some of those tools. After all, we know the best way to master the tools of preschool is to use them often throughout the school year. Here is how we explored our scissors today…

 The children were able to stop by the cutting table for a little cutting practice…

The children cut up scraps of paper, left over from last year, then shook all their cut up pieces of paper in our group paper bin to save for another activity we will do later this week…

The children could cut the scraps up as much as they like…

 And in our outdoor classroom, we explored tweezers and pompoms…

The children simply selected any color of pompom they liked and used the tweezers to sort them or just to take them in and out of the jar…

 The children didn’t care for the big tweezers all that well, so we pulled out all the smaller ones and the children found them much easier to use…

And we explored so many more tools but no need to share them all today as we will explore them all plenty of more times throughout the school year…

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By |2012-08-29T18:13:53+00:00August 29th, 2012|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Elyse Butcher August 29, 2012 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    Lovely! I just bought those tweezers from your previous post! Where can I get those nice jars! Are they glass? What size are they?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 29, 2012 at 6:29 pm - Reply

      You can get the jars from the Dollar Store!!


    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 29, 2012 at 6:30 pm - Reply

      Oh, and yes these are glass jars – sorry about that.

      • Elyse Butcher August 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm

        yay! thanks! trip to the dollar store tomorrow!

  2. amy August 29, 2012 at 6:55 pm - Reply

    Where are the little trays from. Everything i have found are too big to use at tiny preschool tables.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 29, 2012 at 8:51 pm - Reply

      You can find some here – I use the small and large yellow ones: United Arts and Education

      And I have also bought some large and small ones here at Lakeshore

  3. Jennifer August 29, 2012 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    Where did you buy your busy trays? I am looking for some. thanks!

  4. Sarah Mosley August 29, 2012 at 9:55 pm - Reply

    This was great! Thank you for sharing these first day of school ideas. They are helpful, and inspiring to me. Have a happy school year!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 29, 2012 at 10:57 pm - Reply

      Thank you Sarah – you have a happy school year too!

  5. Kelly August 29, 2012 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    I love how you introduced your tools! Great idea. Where is that large white tray from that is on your cutting table? Thanks!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 29, 2012 at 10:57 pm - Reply

      Hi Kelly,
      The white tray is a tray that goes underneath a washing machine. I got this one from Lowes or Home Depot. Mine does not have a premade hole in it although it does have a place to make one but I did not want the drain hole:)

  6. g grant August 29, 2012 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    mercy…everything seems so calm and you actually got to teach!
    I have 20 4yr olds and literally “herded cats” all day! Half do not speak english and the other half do not listen to english!! It was day 5 before I would even give them a crayon!…I’ve been assured that it will get better!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 29, 2012 at 10:58 pm - Reply

      LOL! It was very peaceful for the most part. I have 12 students ages 3 – 5 but they are super sweet and eager to learn. I feel very blessed:) I agree – things will get better. It takes time to get all 20 on the same page! Hang in there!

  7. andie jaye August 29, 2012 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    i love the idea of putting one of each item in a kit for the children to use. *pinned*

  8. Fatima Diaz August 30, 2012 at 5:04 am - Reply

    Is it the first time you have these students in your classroom? In Spain we still have 15 more days until we start our school year, so I keep looking forward to seeing your classroom all set up to get some ideas for my own. Thank you!!!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 30, 2012 at 10:33 pm - Reply

      Yes, Fatima. Most of the children are new to my preschool and for all the children – this was their first day of preschool:)

  9. LaQuetha August 30, 2012 at 6:44 am - Reply

    I love the concept of introducing the tools. I wish I had thought of that for the first day. I might just do it next week

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 30, 2012 at 10:32 pm - Reply

      It is never too late to share the tools for preschool with the children.

      • Tracieann September 9, 2012 at 5:40 pm

        Do you have a list of tools and how you describe them? Not that I couldn’t figure it out, just curious what wording you use. I have a young group of 3’s this year.

      • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm

        Just start off with something like, “This is Mr. Glue and he says….” Kind of like a puppet talking about himself:)

  10. Gina Boulanger August 30, 2012 at 8:28 am - Reply

    I was just telling my administrator yesterday I plan on having a tools vs. toys discussion with my class the first day of school this Tuesday. Thank you for posting this.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 30, 2012 at 10:32 pm - Reply

      You are welcome – looks like we think alike!

  11. Marilyn August 30, 2012 at 11:37 am - Reply

    I love your site and ideas. I see so many ideas I would love to try. I am at the beginning stages of setting up my preschool. What would you suggest I start with as in centers using limited resources.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 30, 2012 at 10:32 pm - Reply

      Hi Marilyn,
      I would suggest a block center, art/writing (combined), science, math/manipulatives, sand and water (sensory), and book/puzzles/puppets. My block center is facing my circle time area so when we are not in circletime, the children use the area for block play. My reading center is small but it is cozy and someone is always playing there. Don’t feel like you have to dedicate an entire shelf to just one center. One part can be for writing and the other part for art, for example. I hope this helps.

  12. Anu Ganesh September 1, 2012 at 1:13 am - Reply

    Very nice ideas!

  13. Kimberly Thornton September 3, 2012 at 2:39 am - Reply

    I like your comment that introducing the concept of tools can be used for anytime of the year. I can see this as a possibility of reminding the children of types of tools as the year progress with infusing other thenes and categories such as home objects, transportation, etc. Although we are moving into our second week of school, we will go back and introduce school objects as tools to be used at school.
    Thanks for this idea.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 3, 2012 at 6:26 pm - Reply

      Absolutely – there is always opportunity to explore tools in the classroom. Some of the best activities and learning comes when we just stop and explore the tools we can use through open ended play rather than using the tools solely to accomplish a specific goal.

  14. Pamela Lindsey September 3, 2012 at 12:33 pm - Reply

    I really enjoy your activities that you have .I have already used some of them in my classroom. I have been teaching preschool for over 27 years now and I am still learning new things. Thank you so much. Pamela Lindsey

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 3, 2012 at 6:23 pm - Reply

      I am still learning something new everyday too Pamela!

  15. Sandra McVeigh December 29, 2012 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    I am a Head Start Preschool Teacher in Fairbanks, Alaska and I love your website and used everyday searching for more wonderful ideas. It’s been a wonderful resource. Thank you. Keep up the great work. My question to you is, What is your daily routine like on a typical day? How long is your day?

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