Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Classroom

Where to start, where to start?  How about with what kind of teacher I am.

I am a preschool teacher and administrator/director.  Our preschool rents a large classroom in a church.  The church and I have a good working relationship, which is very important.  They have allowed us to make many changes to the room like painting it and carpeting it since I started there in 2004.  Currently, we are working on a grant for a new playground that will benefit the preschool, church and community.

I teach two sets of kiddos each week- a three year old group on Tuesdays and Thursdays and a four/five year old group on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  I have a wonderful teaching assistant who started with me this school year.  She 'just knows' what to do and it all works.

I am slightly OCD when it comes to my classroom.  I don't like disorganization.  Everything has a place and it is all labeled properly, lol.

I LOVE having the children's work hanging up and I don't like a lot of 'commotion' (for lack of a better word) on the walls.  I actually don't have a lot of usable wall space in my room.  I have HIGH vaulted ceilings in my room so I try to take advantage of that with the stuff I have to hang and improvised for hanging the children's work.  (Pictures are below).

I am also a very academic based teacher, even for preschool.  The kiddos are expected to know so much to go to kindergarten that I try and give them as much as that as possible.  While I am crafty in my personal life (I LOVE to scrapbook and sell Creative Memories also), I struggle in the classroom with crafts that don't teach something, unless it is a holiday.

So, how about my room?  Here are pictures I took at the beginning of the school year.

This is my circle time area.  My regular sized walls are blue and the vaulted walls are dandelion yellow.  Very bright and cheery.  I use red carpet squares for the kiddos to sit on during circle time.  Each day we dress Mr. and Mrs. Weather Bear, sing 'The Days of the Week' song and figure out the date, count to whatever number each class is working on that month (for September it was TTH class counting to 10 and MWF class counting to 20), and review what we have learned up to that point.

The Dalmatian dog next to the red bulletin board is our letter of the week board.  The dog holds a bone in his mouth each week that has the letter of the week on it.  The parents help their child cut out 2-3 pictures at home of things that start with the letter of the week and then they bring them to school.  During circle time on the first days of the week for each class, I introduce the letter and the kiddos share what pictures they brought in and hang them on our board.

TIP:  To hang pictures, I cut sticky contact paper the size of the board and staple it sticky side out.  The kiddos can hang the pictures easily and clean up is a snap.  Just pull it off and put up new contact paper the following week.

This is something new I started this year.  The older kiddos were always asking to help do things in the room like put away the pencils or crayons, pick up the carpet squares, etc.  So, I started "The Zoo Crew" with my MWF class, which is our job chart.  I got these adorable animals from Oriental Trading as a bulletin board display for $10.00.  I just used the animals and each animal has a job listed with it.  I also found paw print cutouts at The School Bus that I wrote their name on and use to identify who has each job.  I rotate the jobs each week.

TIP:  Use Velcro dots for things that you change a lot.  It saves you the hassle of using tape and possibly ripping papers or paint off the walls when removing.

So the jobs are a big hit but the kiddos don't read yet so I ran into the problem of constantly telling them what their jobs were.  Here is what "The Zoo Crew" looks like as of January 2012.

I took a picture of each job that the kiddos do and put it with a title.  Now they can see the picture of their job along with the words.  When it comes time to do their jobs (which is at the end of playtime for most), if they forget, they just look for their name and they know if they have a job and what it is.  I still tell them on the first day of the week, but this has eliminated most of the reminders.

Here is our "Books and Puzzles" area.  I used colored yard sale dot stickers to group the books together.  The kiddos go to this area every morning to read or play with a puzzle while we wait for everyone to get here.  We also have a puppet stage in this area they can play with.

A couple other pictures of the "Books and Puzzles" area.  One item I did not post is our attendance board (because it has the kiddos pictures on it).  I take a picture of each child at the beginning of the year and mount them to a piece of poster board.  I laminate it and hang it in our "Books and Puzzles" area.  Each morning, the kiddos find their name on a cutout and hang it next to their picture.  Great for name recognition!

My classroom has a bulletin board halfway up one of the vaulted ceilings (odd place to put it but it was there where I started).  The board is hard to reach and not something practical to change all of the time so I take advantage of this board by using it as my birthday board.  This year, I found an ocean bulletin board from Oriental Trading for $10.00.  I also found some fish cutouts on their site.  I put the fish into schools based on each kiddos birth month.

Okay, I mentioned I am slightly OCD when it comes to my room and I like everything labeled.  This is a new addition to the classroom this year also.  The kiddos were having hard time finding the correct bins to put stuff away in when it was time to clean up, especially if they dumped multiple bins out (which happens daily :)).  I found these GREAT self adhesive labeling pockets at Lakeshore Learning.  They were a little pricey but well worth it.  I bought the 5.5" x 4" pockets.  The whole back is sticky and it sticks GOOD to the bin.  I took a picture of each group on toys that go in the bin and printed them.  I had to cut the picture down a little to fit in the pocket but wow, what a difference.  Clean up is so much easier now!

TIP:  If you buy the pockets, the pictures can slide out so I put a little piece of tape on the back edge of the picture to keep it from sliding out.

 I am posting this just because I get a lot of questions about it when people come into the classroom.  They always wonder where I got it because it holds the crayons and pencils so nicely and it is on wheels so it can be put away easily.  This is a laundry room organizer that holds detergent bottles.  I found it at Walmart years ago.  Walmart also carries the plastic bins for the crayons, pencils and markers, which fit PERFECTLY on the shelves.

And finally for this post, here is my door from the beginning of the year.  It says "Blasting off to a GREAT year!".  I made the rocket ship out of cardboard and covered it with foil and red construction paper.  Each star has a child's name on it.

So, there is an overview of my classroom.  It sure is 'an interesting mix'!

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