IDEAS

 

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 Creating a coat and shoe club for the children is a great way to encourage independence. This chart is placed in the room and as a child learns to do one of those tasks, his/her name is placed on the chart. There is great incentive to be in the club because club members get to help others in the room to learn the skills. This is also great for reading because they have to read the helpers’ names when they need help. Mom and Dad are surprised at how quickly they are told “Don’t help me …I want to be in the Shoe Club!” A great incentive!!
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Creating a coat and shoe club for the children is a great way to encourage independence. This chart is placed in the room and as a child learns to do one of those tasks, his/her name is placed on the chart. There is great incentive to be in the club because club members get to help others in the room to learn the skills. This is also great for reading because they have to read the helpers’ names when they need help. Mom and Dad are surprised at how quickly they are told “Don’t help me …I want to be in the Shoe Club!” A great incentive!!
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I always had a supply teacher chart that worked everytime. I made it from coloured bristol board(laminated) and then I would use post-it notes in the sections. I used a little ring to hold the pages together and I had envelopes glued on the back to hold a map of the school and a class picture with names. We also had a file in the office with our timetable etc.,but this really made the preparation easy.
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 Use the overhead projector to show letters on the screen….and if you don’t have a screen…just use a white sheet…it tacks up on the bulletin board quickly and easily. The children love to see numbers and letters on the wall. I use a pipe cleaner wand or a bubble blower to circle particular letters. Great for lower and upper case practice!
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Sand Box Sparkles….I found that when I added sparkles to the sand, the children became excited again about playing in the sand box. I would do this near the end of the year just before changing the sand.
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Want a great way to store the scissors and have them counted at the end of each day? The whirly gig in the centre of each table is also an easy way to keep each centre organized and allow for each child to reach the items. That is a coffee can or a tomato can with holes poked in it like a juice can.
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”Today is..” chart with magnets Each day we would do the calendar and part of the routine was to do the “today is” chart. I made this using the strips from hanging file folders….I put two strips together and covered them with coloured tape. I pinned it to the wall vertically as you can see in the picture and then I had three cards….”today is”, “tomorrow will be”, and “yesterday was”…..and I had the children place them in front of the correct day using the jumbo magnets.
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Two Letter Word Chart These are charts that we made up together using the words that the children would cut out of magazines and newspapers. We have been talking about 1, 2 and 3 letter words for a long time and then I asked them to find some themselves. They loved doing it at home and bringing them in an envelope the next day. We would glue them on construction paper and we would have a lovely big scrapbook with two letter words. We would have one for 1,2,3 and 4 letter words….it was great to see their sight vocabulary build.
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Whirly Gigs at the Tables…I used one of these at each station and I found the coloured cups to be helpful in keeping the tables neat and organized at all times. The children were very responsible about putting the thick and thin markers, the special cutting scissors, the coloured pencils and the regular pencils in their proper place. The whirly gigs made it easy for everyone at the table to reach all the items. It was a simple yet effective sorting and classifying tool.
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 This is one of the best ways to store the toys with numbers and titles. I found that it really helped to keep the room organized. The children knew exactly where to put the toys at the end of the day and I rarely had any mix-ups. I used different colours for the different trolleys so that even if the toys were spread all over the place during play time, it was easy to put them away. The exact same title is taped to the trolley with the matching number and name.
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 At the beginning of the year it is sometimes difficult to remember all the names of the parents, the children and the nannies. I find it really helpful to make a nanny wall.(I take a picture of each child with his/her nanny) The parents, the children and the nannies are delighted with this! You will find it really easy to remember the names this way! It is also a special way to make the children with nannies feel included.(Sorry this picture isn’t very clear.)
pastedGraphic_11.pdf I made journals for each child and they were able to draw pictures or words in them each time we had journal time. I made the covers different colours for the morning and the afternoon. It was fun to see the children starting to write their own stories in the journals as the year went on. We did a lot of discussion about journal recording and the children loved this part of the day! I will tell you later how we built up to writing the stories in our journals.
pastedGraphic_12.pdf I made these little sheets for the children to use each day during activity time. They were just like lists with space for ten items numbered from 1 to 10. The children would love to go around the room and print all the words that they could see in the room. This was fun because they could do the activity several times and find different words each time. I covered a small cereal box with construction paper and it made a sturdy container for them.
pastedGraphic_13.pdf This is the way that I would display many of the items of work that the children did each month or week. I would use 4 paper clips attached to a 9 by 12 piece of construction paper and each month I would attach that month’s piece of work. The child had a few permanent places in the room where the work would be displayed and it was a great way for tracking improvement. I would leave the old ones underneath. At the end of the year I would make a cute cover for each and the children had a keepsake of the years work. It was a great way of evaluating their work at report card time. It was always an attractive and yet practical way to display work.
pastedGraphic_14.pdf This is the message centre that I had at the entrance to the classroom. I am sure you can all understand how many parents give you messages in the morning and then two hours later, you have to remember the 10 different places each child is going after school. I would have little scraps of paper handy with pens, and the little box was the place to write down any important things parents needed to tell me. (if someone different would be picking them up, if they were going away on vacation etc, if they wanted me to phone them etc.) There were also big envelopes for forms to be returned.( I would staple the particular forms on the envelopes so that they would know which forms went where) I had a different box for the morning and the afternoon. It was a great communication table and it kept me organized to the max! Parents loved it too!
pastedGraphic_15.pdf Here is a great idea for hanging signs in your classroom. They are colourful and attractive and easy to make. I used colour photocopy paper(you can buy a package with mixed colours at the office supply stores) and it doesn’t fade. I just ripped out the triangular pieces and then glued them in between the two cirles. I would hang them with brightly coloured wool. They are a bit time consuming to make…but well worth the effort!
pastedGraphic_16.pdf Each year I kept a binder at the back of the room where I would put all the notices that went home each day/week. It was a great tool for me at the end of the year to see what newsletters I had sent home and when. It was also a great tool for the parents to read any letters that they may have missed when their child was absent etc. I sent home a newsletter each week. Later on, I will give some pointers and samples of my weekly newsletters.
pastedGraphic_17.pdf These simple boxes of folders are an easy method of tracking artwork throughout the term. I also had those plastic file folder carts(one for each class) to store other smaller items of work. Parents always knew that I kept work for a while rather than send it all home right away. I found it to be an excellent resource for me when I had to assess their development. The simpler the storage method is ….the more likely you are to adhere to the system. Keep it organized and easy to administer.
pastedGraphic_18.pdf Here is one of my tracking tables where I kept all the children’s work. I always had little 3″by 11″ strips of their names with numbers beside them. When I handed out work, I would just need to put a number on the sheet and if it got misplaced I knew who it belonged to. I would keep all the finished work in simple folders made out of a folded piece of 18 by 24 construction paper(folded in 4. I would staple a name list on the front and title the work(Calendar Work, Picture of the Month etc). There are two pockets in each folder…one for the finished work and one for the unfinished. ( I would write on the folder…”unfinished work at the back of folder” It was a simple and yet very efficient way to track the work of each student. I would just rip off the front list and put a new list on with each new piece of work. The old lists were kept for my records in an envelope.
pastedGraphic_19.pdf This is the way that I would make a display out in the hall that was able to be quickly changed every week. The display was called kindergARTgallery. Underneath each picture was a little sign called “Meet the Artist” with the name and a photo from September. In June I could put another sign up beside that one that said….”Meet the Artist Now” and it was a recent picture. Parents and the children loved seeing how much they had changed by June. Out in the hall we had the little strips that pictures could be tacked to…and I would put several of the pictures on top of each other. It was a great way to keep the pictures stored and it was a fun way to record the progress. I made the letters at the top using a wide paintbrush and I just painted the letters on 8 by 11 paper and then laminated them.
pastedGraphic_20.pdf If you see below, you will read about the “What is it time” programme that I did in my class. These are the questions that I had on the wall to correspond with the programme. I did them in the same order each time and I also had them the same colour. It was then easy to say to the children that it is the “red question” right now. They would actually begin to read them as the year went on, because we did it so often and it was so predictable. I always sent several little “What is it” papers to fill out at home and tape to the bag that was brought in. It was a great help for me to guide the student with his/her answers if I could see them on the outside of the bag.
pastedGraphic_21.pdf This was my Friday File table. Every Friday, I sent home a little file that I had for each child. In that file would be the weekly newsletter that I called the “Snooze”. (I will explain that in a later idea). My parent volunteers and my student teachers would be a huge help in getting these ready for me. I loved sending them home because it was a way to keep strong communication lines open with the parents. On this table, you can see the boxes I made for the work and forms that were going into the files at the end of the week. In the boxes on the right are the Friday files themselves. They were placed in a cloth bag that was numbered and each file had a number. The lists that you see on the table are the children’s names and their corresponding number. It might sound complicated, but it was a great way to keep organized. The blue book on the table is the book where I three-hole punched every single note that went home and it stayed there all year. The sticker box in the background was for the stickers that went on each folder when it was returned on Monday morning.
pastedGraphic_22.pdf Here is another picture of the Friday File Table. On this picture it is possible to see the bins on the left that I described in the other picture. It is also possible to see the book with the past letters and notices that have been sent home. I would often tape class lists to the table with large wide cellulose tape and it would stay there all year. In this picture, you can see the moveable class lists that are laminated and were able to be carried around when I needed them.
pastedGraphic_23.pdf I always ran off small class lists that I could use quickly and efficiently whenever I needed them. I would staple them to the front of a piece of folder construction paper(18 by 24 folded in four) and it would serve as a two pocket folder. I would place the finished work in the front pocket and the unfinished in the back with any of the spares. I wrote the title on the front and it was a great way to keep track of who had their work finished. I could use the folders again because I would just put general titles on the folders such as Math…and then I would be more specific on the class list…I would write “Number 5″ etc. on the top. I had little boxes for each class to keep the folders. You can see the lovely little plexiglass name holders. These were made for me by a parent, but I used to use a cereal box cut in half vertically and covered with constuction paper or mactac.
pastedGraphic_24.pdf I always made my own daily plan sheets after I knew that my timetable was in place. I didn’t do this until at least the third week of school, just in case there was some switching that had to take place. These were a lot of work but worth the effort. I made each day a different colour so that it was easy to see that all the Mondays were blue and the Tuesdays were green etc…Once again it helped to keep me organized and consistent. I always made room on my daily plans for ideas, things to do etc.
pastedGraphic_25.pdf At Halloween Time, I always liked being something that wasn’t too scary. By October, everyone was usually very comfortable about coming to school and leaving their caregivers, and the last thing I wanted…was to appear in a witch’s costume. I had always wanted a Fairy Godmother costume and I was able to get this one at the second hand store! The children always loved it and so did I!!I sort of think of kindergarten teachers as fairy godmothers a bit anyway!! You can also see some of the classroom itself in this picture and I hope this gives you an idea of the atmosphere that I like working in…bright and colourful!!!
pastedGraphic_26.pdf These small versions of my daily plan were photocopied on bright coloured paper and displayed in many different places in the classroom. It was a great reference for me, but it was also incredibly helpful for visiting parents, and teachers etc. I always knew that if I was ever out of the classroom, it was easy for someone else to quickly glance and know what was taking place! More detailed daily plans were in a binder on the desk…but this was a tremendous help for me as I had many student teachers and volunteers in the room at all times. The colours corresponded to the colours of the sheets in my more formal binder.
pastedGraphic_27.pdf These little days of the week and name holders were made out of plastic and I loved them! I was most fortunate to have them made by a friend in plastics….but until I had them, I used detergent boxes cut in half lengthwise and trimmed down a bit. Then I covered them with colourful sticky paper and the days of the week and the names fit perfectly into them. They lasted for years…but you can imagine my excitement when I was given the plastic ones as a gift!!!
pastedGraphic_28.pdf There are a lot of things to see in this picture. You can see a home made pocket chart made from bristol board and book tape. It worked very well. Behind the pocket chart, you will see that I made another similar pocket chart on a wallpaper sample or a carpet sample book ( I took off the pages and was left with a hard surface with a handle). In the background, you can see numbers that the children put stickers and bingo dabber marks on. They made groups of 4 or groups of 5 etc. and put circles around the groups. I hope you can see them.
pastedGraphic_29.pdf This is the chart with the names of the Hometime Monitor Moms. This is a program that I used at the beginning of the year so that all the children were delivered safely to the proper caregiver at hometime. As you all know, those first weeks of school can be quite hectic at hometime, especially if you have 2 classes and lots of nannies etc. I made sure that each hometime monitor mom arrived 15 minutes early and was assigned to care for the departure of about 5 children each. I could oversee the entire procedure making sure that every child was taken care of. I didn’t have an assistant at the time and this was an especially comforting thing for me to know that each child was in the hands of the designated caregiver. I made sure that all the hometime monitor moms were aware of exactly what they were to do. They all wore badges to identify themselves to the moms who were picking up their children.
pastedGraphic_30.pdf Hometime Monitor Moms were very helpful in those first weeks of school when you are trying to sort out who’s mom or nanny is who’s. It works really well to have some designated moms who arrive early, wear an ID badge, and look after the safe departure of 5 children each. Until I get to know every child’s caregiver’s name, this is a wonderful way to maintain a smooth and calm dismissal. The hometime monitor moms arrive early each day, and in only a few weeks, they are no longer needed. By then, you will know everyone’s caregiver and/or the alternate pick up parents.
pastedGraphic_31.pdf One of the easiest and cleanest ways to keep glue is in a big airtight Storage Container. The little babyfood jars do not need to have lids because the container is airtight and the glue doesn’t dry out. I use the little plastic glue spreaders and I have the children place them in a yogurt container filled with water by the sink, when they are finished at the end of the day. They are then very easy to clean and place in the dry yogurt container ready for the next day. I also used plastic placemats that we called “glue mats” whenever we used glue…it kept the tables very clean and I just had to wash them( the mats) once a week.
pastedGraphic_32.pdf this a nice Christmas idea for the classroom windows. It is easy for the children to make and it makes a wonderful light in the classroom with the different coloured candles casting a glow in the room. Another idea I used on the windows in the winter was with a brush and sponge and white paint. I would paint tempra panes on the windows and then use white paint and a sponge to put on the snow in little drifts in the corners of the panes. I always let the caretaker know ahead that I would wash it off at the end of the season.
pastedGraphic_33.pdf Each year at this time, I would take a photo of each child in a Santa Hat (unless the child did not celebrate Christmas) and then we would make special frames, either the fabric covered ones with the help of volunteers or the plastic plate ones that you will see in another photo on this page. I would always put a clean paper towel on each child’s head first…to prevent any possibility of head lice outbreak. The parents always appreciated my sensitivity to this issue and they loved the pictures as a gift at Christmas.
pastedGraphic_34.pdf I always tried to make my own numbers for the calendar. I kept them in envelopes in a little file drawer so that they were easily accessible each month. I made a point of putting them away in order so that I could keep organized and ready for the next year. I also kept the month titles in order so that the children could easily help me to find the next one and put away the last month.
pastedGraphic_35.pdf Every month I gave the children a calendar with the numbers printed on in dots. I would also put one on the reverse with some of the numbers missing and then the children could fill in whichever side they were the most comfortable doing.(a great way to check their ability) I have them use either pencil,crayons, coloured pencils or markers(different each month so that there is some variety) In the later months…I have them do a colour pattern if they are able. I place them on the bulletin board and you can see that I put each one over top of the last one using the paper clips. At the end of the year, we make a cover and there is a nice booklet of a year’s worth of calendars.
pastedGraphic_36.pdf I always like to have the children draw something about their favourite Christmas or Chanukah present…and this has always been a cute idea. It is easily adaptable to any festive occasion such as birthdays etc.
pastedGraphic_37.pdf I always used colour photocopy paper to make the room brighter…see how this cupboard door comes alive with the addition of a few yellow designs at the top. The good news is that this paper doesn’t fade…so you can use it for a long time. Also, check out the corkboard strips that I stuck to the cupboard for posting notes and things to remember. (you can just barely see the strips in the picture because I have things pinned on them.) Also you can see a bit of the alphabet that I made for the wall….the kids made the pictures and I made the alphabet on the computer(and cut them out in different shapes) I stuck them on covered styrofoam cleaned meat trays…they were light but gave a third dimension to the display.
pastedGraphic_38.pdf I always have three calendars…two for the kids(morning and afternoon class) and one for me….On the children’s calendar…we always put our own circles for the days that we come to school. The children know that I would put on the dates that there wasn’t school (no circles…I used a dry erase marker). If the child isn’t able to print the numbers…I put little pencil dots for him/her to follow.
pastedGraphic_39.pdf I always like to make a dramatic statement with their work…so these fancy starbursts above their names were able to mark a spot for each child’s work in the hall. The next piece of work would just go over the last one…and in a few months I have a great way to track their progress with their paintings. I also put any other pieces of artwork near the painting. It makes it really easy for the parents to find their little artist’s portfolio on the wall!
pastedGraphic_40.pdf Each month, my calendar changes and the triangular names of the months are kept in an envelope near the calendar ready for a quick change. I attach the month to the calendar with a magnet. Even though the bulletin board is not a magnetic board….I put about two or three thumb tacks where I want the magnet to stick and voila! I use this anywhere I want a magnet to stick on a board. It works wonders!
pastedGraphic_41.pdf This is a list that I kept close to my desk. I would give out little prizes throughout the week checking off the names as I go. It’s a great motivator.
pastedGraphic_42.pdf Here are a couple of pictures from my last workshop in Toronto. I will be speaking in Brandon Manitoba in October. Hope I will see some of you there!
pastedGraphic_43.pdf You can see all the fun that I must have had at this summer workshop. I bring half of my house to each workshop…how will I ever travel on a plane with all my stuff?
pastedGraphic_44.pdf You can see some of the puppets and things that I love working with! Anyone who has ever been to one of my workshops knows how much I love using props like these when I am teaching…they help to make the lessons sparkle! Try some!
pastedGraphic_45.pdf More stuff from the workshops…..and for those of you who have been to a few of my workshops…these will be gentle reminders of some of the topics that we talked about. Have fun! And if…you haven’t been to one of my workshops…email me and tell me where your town is and if you would like me to come and give a workshop there!!! We can make it happen!
pastedGraphic_46.pdf Here is one more workshop photo…..and guess what…I still have lots more..these are just a few that I had handy.

At the site and/or at the workshops….

  • There will be hundreds of ready to implement ideas for all the centres in your classroom.
  • There will be practical ideas for planning and organizing all your classroom materials and activities
  • There will be lots of classroom-proven ideas to enrich your teaching and your classroom
  • Learn effective management techniques that deal with anti-bullying in the early years as a preventative measure for bully-free schools in the older grades.
  • Strengthen your programmes with music and the arts and learn exciting ways to use music, puppetry and magic in your classroom
  • Sing and play the guitar even if you never thought you could!!!
  • How to decorate and make displays in your classroom that will make your classroom dazzle!
  • How to Deal with Curriculum nights…..in a few easy steps…
  • How to write a weekly newsletter so that the parents love it and you love doing it!!!
  • And more and more and more….this section will be up and running really soon!!!

What is it time….

Show and Tell with a difference! Each child had his/her own day of the week to bring an item in. The item could be anything but it must be inside a bag(each child would have a special bag that was identifiable and the bags would have to go into the “What is It” Box at the beginning of the day! Responsibility-they had to remember to put it in BEFORE “what is it?” time!
There were 5 questions that were asked of each student 1. What letter does it begin with? 2. What colour is it? 3. What is smaller than it?
4. What is bigger than it 5. What is is made of?
The questions were on the wall and also on a card that was given to the READER of the day….who would ask the questions. The card was place in one of those plexiglass picture frames so it could stand in front of the READER(making him/her feel incredibly powerful in that role as reader of the day!)
Next….there was a colour selector….who also had a title card in front of him/her and his job was to find the colour on the colour chart(and later on in the year the word)
Next ….there was a letter selector who had to find the capital letter and the small letter on a chart….after I had printed it on a dry erase board for all the class to see ..right after the person had revealed what letter their mystery item started with.
Next….there was the music person who played the tune on a cute kiddie music box….(when someone guessed the right answer!!!) Keep in mind…the jobs would keep everybody actively focussed on the activity.
Sometimes I would pick helpers for the Letter Selector etc…in case the child doing the job was weak…..it was a great way for the kids to learn their numbers and letters…they all loved learning from each other and “What is it?” time was sacred!!! There were a lot more jobs handed out as the year went by….and I will discuss this activity in full(with props!!) at my workshops.