Laminated Mini Pics
Velcro Up The Centers!
Sometimes I try to think ahead :)
A Day in the Life of a Preschool Teacher
Most preschools have Centers. Or, that is what I hear :) My preschool hasn't had a formal "center time" so far, but I have sure thought about it. We have an hour of choice time each day, where kids can use any activity in the school, a daily whole-group project, and a variety of outdoor activities after lunch. Each year I have made a step towards centers, or work-stations, (like buying a set of three awesome mini tables and chairs that are perfect for centers, and then the next year adopting The Get Set For School Curriculum with many small-group mini lessons) but I never made the actual jump. This year that is all going to change! During my Summer break, while I was off dancing tango across the country, I was secretly thinking of Center Time! In the back of my mind I was throwing around ideas about: set-up, routines, or how in the world I was going to get ten kids to stay focused at various centers with only me there to supervise. Especially because I wanted to lead one of the centers and get some extra-small group time with the kids each day. It was a lot of pondering. But finally, this past week, I had a magical thought. Preschoolers love anything hands-on! They also LOVE pictures of themselves. Like, really, really love them! So, I decided to combine these two things to create my own Center system. I can't wait to try it out this Fall. In case you are curious, here is what I have been working on the past week:
Laminated Mini Pics
I asked all my parents to send me a good picture of their child's happy little face! Then I used these photos to make mini laminated photo cards with velcro scares stuck to the back of them. They are too cute!
Velcro Up The Centers!
After I had velcro on my mini pictures of the kids, I had to decide how many kids I would want at each of my center activities. Most of my center options are in tubs or baskets so I added velcro squares to the different tubs (in places where you can't see them while they are on the shelves). If I wanted four kids allowed at the block center, for example, I put four velcro squares on the block bin. This way when the kids go to pick their center they can easily see if there is still a velcro space available! If there is, they can stick their cute picture right on there and get started. If all the spaces are taken they have to try something else. I plan to have kids rotate through three center choices, rotating every ten minutes...so they will get a chance to visit all three available centers each day. I'll have fun picking which three center choices we will have out each week, hopefully connected to our learning goals for the week or month! I love that one of the centers can be with me at our large table, working with 3-4 kids on a Get Set For School Mini Lesson.
I am excited to get the kids set up with this new routine. The first two weeks will be mostly about learning our routine of using our pictures and velcro squares, learning to work at the different centers together, and how to rotate. Once the first two weeks pass I plan to run one of the centers with an activity from Get Set For School at our large table. The other two centers will be student guided. One in our Centers Room (pictured above), and one in our large Calendar room on the floor. This should give us a lot of options for activities! All those lovely tubs have their set number of velcro squares ready for Fall!
I spent a little extra time making photo/name cards (and laminating them with velcro) to put inside my bins for all of the possible center activities I would like to have out. This way, if I want to put a new activity in a bin, I can easily change the label to show the kids the new option. This should come in handy later in the school year when we may want centers that match what we are learning about!
Sometimes I try to think ahead :)
Do you have centers in your preschool? Or does your child love the center system their teacher uses? I would love to hear and share ideas!
From Kindergarten to High School, I was the girl begging to buy school supplies a month in advance, desperate to meet my new teacher, and so ready for the first day of school in September. Not much has changed! But as a new preschool teacher (going into my fourth year of owning my own school) I get to be excited from the other end. I find that, as a teacher, by the time July hits I am tired and ready for a break to re-charge, wondering how I ever made it through the whole school year. But then, by the end of August, I am ready to have the kiddos back... and I usually have a bunch of new ideas that I am bursting to share with them! My friends are forced to help me build outdoor kitchens and sand boxes, look for special items I know the kids will love, or listen to me throw around ideas for themes and projects. By mid-August I usually feel like my life has no purpose without the preschoolers around, so I fill my time up with projects for the Fall! I thought I would start this new blog with a post about preparing for a new school year. When I opened my school I kept thinking of things every day once school started that I needed to get, or prepare, or plan. This year I feel pretty prepared!
Restock Our Supplies
I have been in love with school supplies for my whole life, and it is fun to have an excuse to buy so many as a teacher! I always watch for the Teacher Appreciation sales, and then go crazy :) I also make sure to order all of our curriculum books in August so we will have them at the start of the year. One thing I love about Fall is new crayons. There is nothing like a new box, all sharpened and ready to color. I have a lot of parents who ask me about that crayon organizer in the picture. I LOVE this thing. I found it in a dollar bin and it encourages the kids to work on both color and sorting skills. I do not keep it organized, the kids do! Often I see crayons thrown in a basket or bucket in classrooms, which makes it hard for kids to find the color they want, but in my mind it is also is a missed opportunity to work on two important preschool skills with a real-life situation. I love anything that can get more than one learning goal accomplished at once!
It is always nice to give parents a Welcome Packet. I try to give them some fun information about Fall, and a peek at all the fun things we will be doing throughout the year. It is a great way to send home my first weekly newsletter, and I also love to send home a paper with all the kids names/photos for the year (I have to make sure to ask parents to email me a photo of their child ahead of time). I started this last year and the kids enjoyed practicing the names of their new friends at home with their parents. I think the parents liked it too! A welcome packet is also a great way to communicate our Show and Share schedule, as well as send home a final daily schedule for reference. Each year I tweak our schedule a little bit! I love The Scholastic Reading Club for preschoolers, and they usually send me Fall book-orders (and sometimes free books for my class), so I send those home for the first day for any interested families. I also send home a reminder of all the Holidays, when the Preschool will be closed. Even though this is in my Family Packet that went home earlier, parents seem to misplace this information. I make a "Return" side and "Keep At Home" side to their folder so that I can also send home any paperwork that needs to come back to me (like immunization forms and USDA food program forms). I always love putting these together with good music and a cup of chai... it sure makes me excited for the new school year :)
Add Something New to Our Space!
I try to find something to improve our physical space which makes both the returning kids and myself excited for a new year. Each year I try to add something to a different area of the school...and since I think it is very important to display the kids artwork (all skill levels of artwork, all around the school, in a variety of ways!), I decided to work on my art displays for this Fall. I have framed the kids' artwork the past two years, but it is always so difficult to change out so the frames I have became permanent. I went on a search for fun and easy ways to display and change child artwork. I came up with two awesome ideas, and added both to my preschool this Summer. The first was colorful clipboards...such a fun and easy way to change pictures each week! The second was to take the glass out of frames and glue clips to the backboard. I am excited to be able to change pictures each week so easily. The kids make me pictures daily, and I always want to hang them up, but my fridge can only take so much. This is perfect for savoring their style and artistic growth throughout the year.
Each year I also try to find a way to improve our outside play space. We have a large yard with garden areas, grass to run around in, chickens to play with, and a lot of play activities. But, there are always ways to improve. I remembered my love for pretend baking with dirt and sand as a preschooler and decided it was time that we had sandboxes and a nicer outdoor kitchen. We had a Fisher Price plastic kitchen the first three years I was open but it seemed like more and more pieces were falling off. And there wasn't much I could do to repair broken plastic. Luckily I have a handyman in my life and he helped me create my dream toy kitchen (that I modeled after one I saw in a Family Fun magazine)! I spent a weekend searching local Antique shops for fun, affordable, and REAL cooking tools for the kids to use for their outdoor baking. I also wanted a way for them to get water on their own to mix with the sand and I found a great water pitcher with an easy-to-use spout. I can't wait for the kids to try it out!
Think About The Kiddos!
I think it is important to stop and take a moment to think about the kids! As an early-childhood educator I realize that I play a huge role in the life of the children I work and play with. They love me and I love them. Many kids give me cards before school gets out but I also often get cards tucked into my school mailbox during our vacation. I try to make sure to send them cards back to let them know I miss them too! It is funny that by the end of Summer my life feels empty without them around. When I get cards with pop-up strawberries (my all time favorite thing, and what I named my school after) and tulips made by one of my preschoolers my heart just melts.
Is there anything you do to get your classroom or school set up for the Fall? Favorite memories or helpful tips for a successful first day? We can never be too prepared!