Are you desperate for a new way to entertain your young children? Of course you are! Enter Renee Henrich, a preschool teacher at Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland. The mom of two designed Preschoodles, a $20 activity pack with themes—Hanukkah, dinosaurs, heroes—as a way to amuse and educate kids who, like her, really miss school right now.
Her newest pack focuses on Passover, with activities designed to promote cognitive, emotional and physical skills—and to give you a break while trying to hop on a conference call (though some adult supervision is required). Packs come with roughly five activities with her detailed instructions, and activities contain a “mess rating,” so you’ll be prepared. This version has an afikomen bag and a seder plate to decorate, a chametz hunt and a watercolor kit with a secret Passover message that appears when painting.
“These activities are literally what I’d be doing in a classroom with 3- to 5-year-olds,” she says.
Henrich took a year off due to COVID-19; with an autoimmune condition, she was reluctant to teach in person. This is a way for her to stay connected with kids. After launching among a few school families this summer, the idea blossomed, and she began posting her packs on local online message boards. She buys supplies in bulk from Amazon, Etsy and Target, and she usually preps a couple dozen packs at a time for shipment.
“I’m learning as I go,” she says.
Speaking of learning as you go: If you’re worried about your own preschoolers during this strange year—are they regressing? suffering developmentally?—take it from a teacher: They will be OK in the long run.
“They’re not going to remember this, or they will as a time when they got to play games with mom and dad and do activities at home. Maybe they’ll remember having to wear masks or see pictures of themselves wearing masks. I think that’s important for parents to keep in mind,” she says.
And if you’re struggling with the same old toys day after day, she suggests investing in a few novelty items that come out only when you really need some peace and quiet—such as a Zoom call.
“Then, put them back in the closet until that next half-hour when you need a break,” she says.
Ah, a break.
Learn more at Preschoodles.com.