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Prize Bag for Preschoolers
by Samantha Bell

Preschoolers like to be rewarded often, for completing their work, for following directions, or just for being kind to someone else in the class. You might provide small treats for your preschoolers, such as lollipops or tootsie rolls, but if giving them sugary candy is an issue, consider another way to reward them: let them choose a prize from the prize bag.

My prize bag is a large tote with a zippered top that I fill with all sorts of goodies. I purchased some of the little toys from the dollar store, things like bouncy balls, special pens, small boxes of crayons, spinning tops, and little notebooks. These types of prizes can also be purchased online from companies such as the Oriental Trading Company and the Toy Connection.

If funds are tight, however, consider gently used toys as well. Every so often, I do a deep cleaning of my children's rooms, weeding out the toys they no longer play with. I make a pile of the smaller ones that are still in good condition, and after cleaning them, I place them in the prize bag. Toys from fast food kids' meals, birthday party favors, and unused stocking stuffers make great additions.

If you're prize selection is still a little thin, try searching yard sales and garage sales for more fun toys. Sellers will often have a box of miscellaneous toys for five or ten cents each, or you can collect a bagful and make a deal. Sellers are usually happy just to send someone else home with all of those little knick knacks.

When you're ready to offer the prizes to the students, I've found it's easiest to pour the contents out on a table where the preschoolers can see them. Have them come up two or three at a time to choose their prizes. You might want to give them a time limit, as they may take a while to make their decisions. After all, they aren't just looking for a prize; to preschoolers, looking through the prize bag is a hunt for the next great treasure.

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