Being an in-home learning center, I have to budget money very carefully if I want to make a worthwhile profit off my tuition rates and still maintain a high caliber of teaching. I always want the parents of my students to feel like their child is receiving the added perks of a commercial preschool, such as a preschool graduation, but also the benefits of a safe, nurturing, and enriching learning environment of a home-based preschool. (This is NOT to say that commercial preschools do not offer such, either).
When considering my budget for preschool graduation, I first thought about whether or not to do it at all. Many preschools have moved to doing some sort of celebration to commemorate the year together, and I certainly didn’t want to send off my little preschoolers without doing something special for them. We have had a fun and exciting year together, full of experimenting, learning, and laughing. Parents have trusted me with the early education of their children and I have been rewarded for my hard work, just as my students have. So, I made a date for preschool graduation and started planning with a budget of about $6 per child.
Here’s what we did:
Preschool Graduation Caps
Originally I had wanted to buy caps from a party store or from Amazon, but upon reading the terrible reviews of any of the hats I found affordable, I decided to make my own for each child. I used some paper bowls I already had on hand. The one piece of poster board and string had to be purchased, but the hot glue, paint, beads, and buttons I already had. For a complete tutorial on how to make these super cute preschool graduation caps, see my post DIY Preschool Graduation Caps. This project cost me a total of $3.
Preschool Graduation Certificate
Now, these certificates would have looked really awesome printed in color, which I had actually intended, but that required one more trip to the print shop, so I opted to just do black and white and add some color via marker. I mounted the certificate on colored paper and then laminated each one. This idea was inspired by SnackPicks.com. During the graduation, I read the certificate aloud to the parents. This project cost me $0 out of pocket since I already had everything on hand.
Preschool Graduation Medals
These preschool graduation medals were an extra touch of something special for the students. They really responded to being given a medal during their graduation! I made the image on PicMonkey, then had it color printed on card stock. I used modge podge to adhere the medal cut outs to frozen juice can tops, and string from the graduation caps to make them hang like a medal. This was inspired by this image I have pinned. This project cost me $.79 for the printing, and nothing extra for the juice caps, (since I always save them for art and craft projects) and the string had already been purchased for the graduation caps.
Tie-Dye Graduation T-Shirts
This was by far the most expensive, however my very favorite of everything I did for preschool graduation. I had looked around online to possibly purchase a cap and gown set for each student, (that I would keep from year to year), however I just can’t convince myself to buy a set at $25 a piece! I then thought about making my own gowns, which would be relatively simple, but who has time for that? And, have you checked out the price of fabric lately? Yikes! So, I again opted for something more homemade and I’m glad I did. The parents LOVED this, as did my students! The students looked so awesome all lined up with their caps and tie-dyed T-shirts.
Now, I’m sure you’re thinking I’m crazy for doing tie-dye with a handful of 4-5 year olds, but it was really much cleaner than you might think. I laid down an old shower curtain outside on the lawn and had each student sit at a designated spot around (not on) the shower curtain. I prepped the T-shirts and bound them with rubber bands in advance, then plopped a T-shirt in front of each student. I had prepared the tie-dye solution and after a quick lesson on the color wheel and how the dyes will bleed into one another, I just asked the students to direct me as to where to squirt the dye. The students did not handle the dye themselves. I have done such projects in the past with William and Corinne, and it has been pretty mess free, but truthfully, I was more worried that if I let the students handle the dye themselves we’d run out before everyone had a chance at all the colors.
After the dying, I placed each T-shirt in a large zip top baggie with the student name on it. The kids played outside while I finished cleaning up. I allowed the dye to sit for two full days before washing, despite the instructions said to only let it sit for 6-8 hours. Allowing the dye more saturation time made the colors so much more vivid! This project cost me a total of $18, ($6/pack of three t-shirts and another $6 for the smallest tie-dye set I could find). The black fabric paint for the names I already had on hand.
Kindergarten Bound Sign For Commemorative Photos
This project was quick and simple. I used large markers to write the words “kindergarten bound” on a piece of poster board and placed it in a frame I have hanging in my bedroom. Students posed with the sign after the graduation so parents could take photos. This was inspired by this photo I have pinned. This project cost me only $.19 since I bought the poster board at the dollar store.
Student Gift Baggies
I apologize for having no picture, but I put together some gift baggies for the students to take home. Each bag had a bottle of bubbles, some candy, a Kool-Aid packet, a noise maker and two class photos, one of which had a special note from me on the back. I used dot markers to decorate brown lunch bags for the wrapping, and stapled them shut. This project cost me no more than $8 for all of them.
Wanting to keep things simple and appealing to kids, I made cupcakes with frosting and served some water. All ingredients and serving supplies needed for the refreshments I already had on hand, so they were of no extra cost.
So, how did I do? The total came to $29.98 for five students, equally $5.996 per student. I couldn’t have been closer to my budget! Approaching preschool graduation in this way required more time on my part because so much of everything was home made, but it saved me over a month’s worth of tuition by doing it myself.
I am Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home mama of five! I am the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught range of levels, including preschool and college, and a little bit of just about everything in between. Right now, my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction