We just finished Vacation Bible Camp and now all of our preschool classrooms needed to be emptied so that the company could come to wax our floors. How was this going to happen in a timely and organized manner?
Plan for Help
We were fortunate to have a bunch of helpers from church on Sunday afternoon, but they needed some direction so that we would be able to find everything to put it back later in the week.
Label, Label, Label
On Saturday I went in to school and labeled all the pieces of furniture that would be moved with a specific color for each classroom. I also emptied most shelves of blocks and so forth and put the items in the classroom bathrooms, which would not be waxed.
I then stuffed the bathrooms with as many smaller items as possible. You can see what one of them looked like above.
Plan Your Order
On Sunday I decided which classroom would have its furniture put in first since one classroom is the before and after care room, it would have items stuffed in the back so that teachers who want to get their furniture as early as possible would not have their things behind that room’s furniture.
Use Your Expert
I did have one advantage that you may not have. One of our helpers is a man in the Navy who has had plenty of experience packing for moving, both personally and for his job. He took charge of the room where all the items were being placed and did an incredible job. We could have fit probably four more rooms worth of furniture in there.
Now to wait patiently for the wax to dry so that we can all move back in and start getting ready for a new school year.
In the meantime, please check out my latest freebie. I used this inspirational sign on the door of my classroom while I had an ocean theme. I now need to brainstorm a new sign for my new theme.
Do you have lots of printing to do to get ready for your new school year? I sure do.
You can see the new Rainforest theme I am putting together for my classroom above. I am excited to get my room ready with these printables and show you as it comes together. But first comes our Vacation Bible Camp this week, then waxing the floors….and then lots of printing, cutting and laminating.
I will also be printing some of the new additions to my alphabet bundle for use in my writing and literacy areas of my room. I just added the letter tiles cards to this set, which can be used with letter tiles, stamps, dry erase, or any writing utensil you wish.
I am also working on a few new additions to my Question of the Day Bundle, which will be added soon. Fortunately, I have all but the new additions printed and laminated for myself since I use them every year. So if you already have this one, check your purchases for the update. I hope to add to it next week after our Vacation Bible Camp finishes.
If I get really ahead I will start printing the fall books from my Fall Bundle. I have found that my students love reading the books that have their own name on each page.
If you have anything on your wish list to purchase, please be sure to grab them on Tuesday or Wednesday, August 6th and 7th. At that time the Teachers Pay Teachers Sale will be going on. My shop will have everything on sale for 20% off and you can get an additional 5% by using the code BTS19. My bundles will be incredible deals with the extra percentage off in addition to the regular bundle discount.
Hope you are having a great time prepping for back to school. I will be excited to start working in my room after the waxing next week.
One of my summer projects was to create some activity cards to use my letter tiles more regularly. I just completed this Alphabet Letter Tile Word Cards set that I plan to use throughout the school year in several ways. The cards can be used with letter tiles, stamps, dry erase, or with a variety of utensils for letter writing practice.
When I first introduce the letter tiles cards I usually use the cards with the lowercase letters already printed so that it is a matching activity. Later I will move students on to using the capital letter cards and the blank cards to build the words with the letter tiles.
My example photos have the sheets uncut, but I generally cut them into long cards so that students only have one word to look at to avoid confusion.
Above you can see the dry erase sleeve that I sometimes use. I also cut and laminate the cards, which makes it easy to put them on a ring. You can find the dry erase sleeves on Amazon (affiliate link below):
The dry erase marker above is from IKEA. We are trying these out this year since it appears that students cannot smush the tip into the marker.
Another way I will use these Alphabet Letter Tile Word Cards is with my alphabet stamp set. Please forgive how weak my stamp pad was in the photos above. Obviously we need to try a new kind of stamp pad. The stamp set link is below as well as a stamp pad set (affiliate links) I might try next. They would not be good for large stamps, but look like they might work well for alphabet stamps.
For more information about this product please check it out by clicking the image below.
I just finished creating a lesson plan form for myself that I decided to share with you all. I had a lesson plan form in Open Office that I had modified over time but stopped really using Open Office anymore but I had not made the time to create one in a program I use. So I added it to my Summer To Do List.
I have struggled with the perfect lesson plan form because I like it to be in chronological order, but I also need a section to put what will be at my centers each week.
The plan I used to use had separate spaces for all the scheduled parts of the day, but I found that some of it was mostly wasting space. I rarely needed to put anything on my plans about lunch, for example. So I just left those off of this plan.
You will notice that there are two sections with a mention of arts/crafts and/or small group to be listed at those times. This is when I have centers going on and pull students for arts/crafts and/or small groups. If I have less than ten students then I am in the classroom by myself, so only one of those will happen during each centers time. However, if I have an assistant one of us will be working on arts/crafts and the other in small groups each day.
I am a very visual person so I copy and paste book covers into my plans for Story Time as well as including pictures of the crafts I am planning. Because of this I decided to figure out how to share a plan that would allow you to add photos to your plan as well in the sections for Arts/Crafts and Small Groups as well as Story Time.
As you can see above, in order to give maximum text space I overlapped the text and image fields. This means if you do not want an image you can fill the entire box with text. If you do want an image I suggest that you add it first so that you can more easily see how much text area you will have and make adjustments to your text size as necessary.
This form opens with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. Be sure you have the most up to date version since some of the older versions did not allow for editable images. The files will be downloaded as a zip file. If you need instructions on how to extract zip files, this page has instructions for both Windows and Mac based computers.
As the year progresses I plan to share some of my plans with you using this form. I would love to also hear from you if this planning form helps you. You can find it by clicking any of the images in this post or by heading to my Freebies page.
Changing my classroom layout sometimes seems overwhelming to me. When I start thinking about moving one area to another spot, suddenly I think of all the other things that will need to be moved and how many issues I need to solve because of the move. That sometimes makes me decide against a change. However, I got brave after our preschool camps were finished and managed to make a big change to my classroom with the help of my teen daughter who provided some muscle and some ideas of her own.
Above you can see what the classroom looks like when you walk in the door. Just inside are my cubbies for lunch boxes and water bottles. This is also where I put name cards down for answering our Question of the Day, so I knew I still wanted this to stay where it originally was. I also kept my easel and math/fine motor table where they had been for the time being. I did add a new piece of yoga mat under the easel to keep it from “walking” when students work on it. I found mine locally at a discount store, but you can find them on Amazon as well. (Affiliate link below.)
My main art and literacy table needs to be close to the sink. I kept it close to where it has been but moved the art supplies to be the back of the library area. This makes the circle time area, where I will be having blocks, easy to see if I am working at the art table. I don’t know at this point for sure how many students will be in my classroom next year, but do know that I wanted to move the block area to utilize the circle time rug to free up some space for other areas in the room if I had a larger group again like I had in the past year.
My main table usually has six chairs during centers time but moves up to eight during snack and lunch. I am still working out how many chairs I will have in my room for the fall. The number of students I end up with will help me figure this out. It may also make some changes to my layout.
Since I moved the blocks to the circle area I could not have the library area near the circle time rug anymore. I decided to put the library where I used to have blocks. This makes the area a little larger. I may need to move the bookshelf against the wall, especially if the science table ends up needing to accommodate more than two students. The library pillow is a pet pillow from IKEA. So far the camp kids loved using it, so I am happy with the addition to my room.
The blue table usually works as my science center in my classroom. If I need to have more seating I will need to rotate this table and place an end against the wall. I am playing around with placing the sensory bin either way. The pretend play in the corner will change every few weeks, but I think I have plenty of space for adjustments.
You can also see the writing table in the foreground. I had two tables like these for writing last year and have not decided if one will do or if I want to get another slightly larger table and scoot some things to make enough space for two students. I do like the table being next to the small shelf because I imagine I will use the top of it for placing writing supplies for the center.
This corner has always been my pretend play corner. It has just been a matter of whether it gets enlarged along the front or side wall. The main shelf may end up more angled to be parallel with whatever arrangement I end up with the circle rug. The reason for this is that I no longer have a spot for an alphabet due to my rearranging. The alphabet may end up on the back of that shelf.
My entire rearranging idea started with putting the blocks on the circle rug. I like this idea since it gives more space for building. I do need to still figure out the alphabet placement as well as think about where I will do my small groups activities during centers since I alternated between doing them on the circle time rug and at the science table in the past.
It currently feels super roomy in this section of the room so I know I can make some adjustments based upon how the use of the room works during our Vacation Bible Camp next month.
Be sure to check out my latest freebies. I just added a lesson plan form that I updated for use during the next school year.
The sensory bin I use for Nursery Rhyme week is one of the easiest ever. I grab our bin of pom poms from the art closet and dump it in the bin. I could probably just leave it at that and the kids would be thrilled.
I did go to Making Learning Fun and add the Shear the Sheep game pieces as well as adding some foam nursery rhyme pieces to sort as well.
You can find some pom poms below with an affiliate link or head to your local craft store.
We also made use of our dot markers and letter tiles during nursery rhyme week.
Making Learning Fun also had a set of Jack and Jill letter tile cards that I liked because there were several short words to build, which helped to encourage students who had not tried this type of center before to feel successful.
I created my own dot marker sheet for Hey Diddle Diddle. Students had to dot all the cats one color, all the dogs another, and so forth. Still perfecting this project, so if you have any other nursery rhyme printable ideas, please let me know as I would like to add a set of ideas to my shop soon.
Be aware if you use dot markers that smell you may end up with a kid with a strange colored nose as I did this week. The set below does not smell, but the kids do enjoy the ones that do.
I used one side of my easel for students to retell several nursery rhymes. You can see above that someone was mixing together Jack and Jill with Humpty Dumpty.
The Jack and Jill set came from Sunny and Bright in Primary. I just cut out the retelling set, laminated them, and added some velcro to the backs.
The Humpty Dumpty set was printed on milk filters. I trimmed the ones below to fit in my printer and then printed the pages. I then cut them out. Students hands do need to be dry in order to play with these. They stick to the felt board fairly easily. I found the Humpty Dumpty pieces at KizClub.
Some of our Nursery Rhyme games went with Itsy Bitsy Spider and Humpty Dumpty.
The Itsy Bitsy Spider path game was found here. I added a couple plastic spiders that I had probably purchased at the local dollar store as well as some dice.
The Humpty Dumpty game has two game boards and students take turns picking a card to complete their Humpty Dumpty puzzle. Sometimes they get the card they need and sometimes they do not.
In our writing center we spent some time reviewing some of our alphabet letters and using them to make three letter words. I used a roll and graph from This Reading Mama along with the alphabet stampers. I made some of the printables go only up to five since I wanted students to play until one of the words won and many students don’t quite have the stamina to stick with it until ten unless it is a teacher guided activity.
I think the alphabet stampers I have are discontinued since I cannot find them online, but you try something similar to the ones below. I chose to only give my students the ones they might need to complete the activity instead of the entire set.
Another alphabet review activity was on one side of the easel. I used one of the pages of my Alphabet Magnet Match along with alphabet magnets. As you see I use super fancy painters tape to put my magnet match on the easel so that students can put the alphabet magnets on the matching picture.
I have several sets of alphabet magnets, including the ones below. Sometimes I put out just capital letters, other times a mix, and sometimes just lowercase.
These are just a few of the nursery rhyme activities that we completed during our study.
My students also loved finding the kitten who was lost in the mitten. We had played games similar to the Lost Kittens and Mittens Game before on the pocket chart so they were already playing it during the first centers time before I even had a chance to share it with them.
After many weeks of random snow days, delays, and holidays we now have a promised full week of school with preschoolers who have no idea whether we eat once or twice each day. (Once on delay days and twice on regular days.) To help celebrate back to a routine that should make life easier once we get used to it again I have a couple items to give away.
In addition, Teachers Pay Teachers has announced its quarterly sale which means my shop will be 25% off when you use the code: TICKTOCK at checkout.
This is a great time to buy bundles because they are already regularly discounted and the sale makes them a steal.
For example, I use activities from my Alphabet Bundle every week. Whether you are a letter of the week fan, do letter of the day, letter boot camp, or mix it all up there is plenty in this bundle to help you out. Below is just one example of the items in the bundle.
It includes lots of centers ideas, including a newly added Spring Geoboards set.
The Question of the Day Bundle is also used daily in my classroom. This week I am using the nursery rhyme related questions. Below you can see one of the insect themed questions that I will be using later in the year.
Where’s the freebie? I just recently added a Dental Health set of count and clip cards to my TPT shop. Just click the cover below to be taken to my shop for the freebie and to pick out some goodies for the sale.
Finally, I have a giveaway of a $10 gift certificate to Teachers Pay Teachers as well as a giveaway for one resource from my shop that is worth up to $5. This giveaway ends at 12:00 am March 1. I will send out an email to the winners that day.
So, please enter the giveaway and do not forget the code of TICKTOCK to get your full 25% in my Teachers Pay Teachers shop on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 25th and 26th.
I would especially like you to do the entry involving commenting on this post about your favorite book that you need more resources for.
Although we technically had two weeks of transportation in PreK it was broken up by the weather.
As always I started each day with our Question of the Day. Around this time of the year I change the student name tags to last names so that they can start recognizing those. I put first names on the back of the tags so that they can check to make sure they are correct as they grab their tags to answer the question. For the siblings in my class I put all of the first names on the back of each tag.
This time I put the pattern blocks on the fine motor table, although I do sometimes use contact paper and put them on the easel. You can find some pattern blocks sheets here and here.
Since we are not doing a space theme during the school year this year, I decided to use my rocket drawing activity during transportation week. I found this at Making Learning Fun.
One of the letters we focused on during our transportation unit was letter K. We used letter magnets to build words that start with that letter from This Reading Mama. I use these magnet letters (affiliate link.)
My Melissa & Doug Magnetic Picture Maker was really popular this year with a few of my students this year. I was fortunate enough to discover this on clearance at a craft store a few years ago. This requires fine motor control and stamina since it has so many pieces to fill in a picture.
My Transportation Bundle includes this roll and graph game that I had my students complete with stickers. This one is for my students who are still working on stamina so it only goes up to five. I try to balance the activities in my room to appeal to different levels of the students in my classroom.
For my writing center I also chose a couple different activities from my Transportation Bundle to meet the interests and levels of my students. I use the alphabet stamping set from Melissa & Doug (affiliate link) and crayons. Just trying out new stamp pads. Still looking for the perfect stamp pads, so if you have any you love, please let me know.
The other writing center activity from my bundle involves dry erase markers and writing transportation words for my students who are ready for that.
I also used my transportation sort game in my sensory bin along with magnet fishing poles. In order to make the cards magnetic I just put a few staples in the edges of each one after laminating.
For the science table I started with magnet wands and magnetic trains. I showed the students how to use the wands to make the trains follow the taped paths without touching the trains.
The other science activity for transportation involved building bridges. I found some ideas here. I printed and laminated photo examples and provided the supplies and let the kids experiment.
Another letter focus activity comes from my Alphabet Bundle. Students use dot markers to dot the letter and pictures of words that start with the letter. I purposely limit the letters and letter sounds on each page with this set of dot marker pages.
In the block area I added my train set from IKEA. I have had this set since my girls were little, but there are many similar sets out there. This one looks fun as well.
I was also gifted with some stencils that include transportation themed ones from Lakeshore. (not affiliate link) These are great because they are really sturdy. It does take a while for preschoolers to understand that they have to hold the stencil still while working with it, so the sturdy ones work best. I would like to try out the Melissa & Doug set as well.
Those were my main centers activities during my Transportation theme. If you would like to check out my Transportation Bundle and Transportation Calendar set, you can click through to them below.
So I had grand plans when I found these penguin erasers at Oriental Trading and then we had a bunch of snow days. Since I already created several games I decided to use some of them in our early care room instead.
Above you can see the Penguin Grid Game. Students roll a die to figure out how many penguin pictures to cover. If you don’t have the erasers the students could use goldfish crackers to feed the penguins or Aldi’s has penguin crackers as well that could be fun. I see that the erasers are also available at Fun Express, but I am unfamiliar with that company.
The younger students in early care worked on matching penguin colors to fill in the grid, while the older ones worked using the die as well.
For the Penguin Path Game, students chose their favorite color penguin to take from start to finish. They rolled the die and moved the appropriate number of spaces. This involves practice counting as well as working on one to one correspondence when moving along the path.
There is also a spinner included in this set of math games that can be used to play the path or grid game. I chose to make the spinner separate from the boards in case you want to use the die instead. I also find that students tend to knock their pieces all around while spinning if the spinner is attached to the board.
In our PreK classroom we work on patterning with our calendar cards daily, but I also like to rotate in centers on a regular basis to practice patterns. These ones can be used without the erasers by using the answer choice pieces at the bottom of each set of pattern strips.
I cut and laminated mine to use with the erasers, but if I did not have the erasers I would cut and laminate the answer choices. I would then utilize velcro dots or clothespins to have students secure their response to the strips.
This set of Penguin Math Games can be found in my TPT shop. If there are other penguin related activities you would like to see be added, please let me know.
Our Polar theme week was shortened quite a bit because of snow creating snow days and delays. We still managed to fit in a few fun polar theme centers and activities, beginning with our Question of the Day. One of the questions asks students if they are taller than an Emperor penguin, so I had one displayed in my room so they could figure it out after taking a guess.
The life size penguins are from way back when I used to teach middle school and did a penguin research unit. The final project was the life size penguin, which I now pull out each year to share with my preschool students.
Easel activities included a penguin number order puzzle is one of several in 3Dinosaurs’ penguin pack. I laminated and added magnets to the back to use on the easel. I find that students are more likely to do these puzzles on the easel than sitting in a bin on a table. The magnets also help the puzzle pieces stay still while students are attempting to put it together.
On the dry erase side of the easel I put up a step by step for drawing a penguin. I am unsure where this particular one came from, but found a few similar ones here and here.
During January we do an assessment of several skills of our PreK students, with patterning being one of them. I used these Penguins on Ice (affiliate link) to assess three different types of patterns with my students. Even students who never want to leave the block area were happy to come play with the penguins with me.
There are plenty of penguins and ice bars to have several students at this center at a time. I set it up for two students, but occasionally ended up with three with no problems. If I had gotten out all of the ice bars I could have definitely had four spots to play.
Most activities and centers in my classroom work on fine motor skills alongside literacy and math skills. Above you can see a counting activity with polar animals from my math center that I found here. Students needed to match the clothespins with the clipart of the animal before clipping it onto the cards.
Since my students this year enjoy Q-tip activities I pulled out my new Polar Q-tip Painting set, which is also part of my Arctic Math and Literacy Bundle. Students use a qtip or cotton swab to paint the dots and can use the qtip or another writing utensil to trace the polar animal’s name.
We played some Pop’n Drop Penguins this week. I simplified the game rules for students since I did not have a student this year who already knew how to play. They enjoyed popping the die in the middle, while I enjoyed the die not bounding around the room.
I also had out an Arctic TOOB set, similar to this one. It appears that mine has some extra pieces in comparison. I used the printable cards from Montessori Soul to go along with my set.
Since we had a good amount of snow outside that shortened our week I was able to put real snow in our sensory bin with our Penguin TOOB. I also found some penguin cards at Montessori Soul that I stuck to the lid of the sensory bin so that students could match with the figures.
I added two different activities to my writing center. The first one utilizes my alphabet stamps for practice stamping and writing polar animal names. This is also part of my Arctic Math and Literacy Bundle, or can be found separately here. Most of my stamping activities earlier in the year are for the beginning letter, but by this time in the year there are several students ready to stamp whole words and write them.
The other writing center activity involved coloring by code. Since my students do not know the words for the colors I colored over the words with the correct color on each sheet. We also had an older student visiting who colored the samples for the center to help students understand to color the entire area, not just the individual number to complete the activity. You can find these sheets here and here.
In addition to the real snow in the sensory bin, I created some snow with baking soda and white hair conditioner. Students drew the alphabet letter in the snow.
Since we had not used our poke pins in a while I pulled out this penguin poke pin sheet. Since it was a short week there were not too many students who finished this one. The Polar q tip sheets could also be used with poke pins to make an activity that is shorter in duration for students whose hands get tired with this penguin. I use the large pins below along with a couple cork board squares under the paper for this activity.
Since I still had my Penguin Hunt dramatic play up from the previous week, I added some ice fishing to it. My director had created the ice fishing with the same thick blue plastic that I had utilized earlier in the year to make my bulletin board look like an aquarium. She added magnets to some plastic fish. The fishing poles we had are from Lakeshore, but the set below already is set up with fish and looks great as well.
If you are planning your Polar Animal or Penguin theme in your classroom, be sure to check out the activities I have in my shop below by clicking on the images. Since I did not have time for them all I will be sharing some of them with my early care students next week.
I created the Penguin Math Centers to go along with a cute set of penguin erasers I picked up on clearance at Oriental Trading. I will share some of the activities in action soon.