Rainforest PreK Classroom Sneak Peek


After a whirlwind week of getting everything back together after waxing the floors, we had our Sneak Peek of our Rainforest PreK classroom.

Since we are in a church, we were able to find some saved decorations from a past Vacation Bible Camp that was jungle themed with a ton of these leaves.  This really saved me since I totally forgot to plan out my door this week.


As students came in they received a sheet with pictures of things to find around the room.  One was the Question of the Day.  Student name cards were placed on top of the cubbies shelf so students could find their name and place it under the answer they chose.  You can find the Teddy Bear themed questions in my Question of the Day Bundle.

Each child’s lunch bin held a special teddy bear theme treat to find when they checked off the cubbies on their sheet.  Editable name labels of all kinds to match this theme are part of the Rainforest Decor Bundle.


I keep my jobs above the coat hooks in my classroom.  The student names are velcroed on so that I can move them down each week to change jobs.  This means the line leader is always the coat hook closest to the door.


My library area moved this year to the spot where the blocks used to be.  I also added a pet bed from IKEA for sitting.   The easel is on the other end of this area, which I hope to use for story retelling on the side that faces the library area.


Above the library is my birthday display.  I switched out the decorative paper on the fronts of the bags for some AstroBrights paper.  The birthday sign should soon be added to my Rainforest Decor Bundle, as soon as I can write up some instructions for putting it together since it prints out on six sheets of paper.

Since the library moved and has the art shelf as one side of it, I needed a solution for having the alphabet by my circle area.  I ended up creating a new set of alphabet cards and placed them on the back of the pretend play shelf facing the circle area.  Since this shelf is shorter, there is just enough space to fit everything.


In the past I have had my circle area and blocks area separate.  I decided to rearrange this year and combine the two.  We will see how I like it as I make my way through the year.  I felt that the circle rug was wasting too much classroom space by not being used much during centers time, although I did use it for small groups sometimes and having blocks here now will make me have to rethink small groups sometimes.


One challenge with my new layout is figuring out where I would place my centers signs.  The arts and crafts sign ended up on the cabinet next to the table where we do those activities and the blocks sign ended up in the window just above the block shelf.

Rainbow Bears Centers

Next week we have just two days for our first week of school with a Teddy Bear theme.  I will share with you which items I used from my Rainbow Bears Centers in my next post.

How to Empty a Classroom Quickly

HowToEmptyRoomWe 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.

BathroomFilledI 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.

FISHBibleIn 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.

PreK Classroom Layout Changes


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.

First Week of PreK Activities


Our first short week of PreK is officially in the books so I can share what we accomplished this week.  We started with creating our meal time name mats.  I cut white card stock in half lengthwise and wrote each student’s name on them with white crayon.  I also wrote it lightly in pencil on the back so we would know which one to give to each student.  Students painted with watercolors to reveal the secret message, which were their names.

Once dry I laminated them and the students who have the job of getting tables ready for snack and lunch get to put out the names on the tables at meals so everyone knows where to sit.  You would be amazed how quickly everyone learns everyone’s name when there is the incentive of actually choosing where everyone sits for meals.

We put our watercolors in test tubes with small brushes.  The sample above is from Amazon, which is an affiliate link.  We may have gotten ours from Oriental Trading.  I always use some sticky tack at the base to stabilize them and reduce the chance of the whole thing being knocked over while painting. I also highly recommend the brand of liquid watercolors above. We had another brand and the containers were much easier to end up with the watercolor all over your hands while dispensing it. The other brand also did not seem as deep, no matter how much you added to water.


For the first week and quite a few more students than last year, I purposely chose many activities that children could successfully interact with on their own.  I put out the ocean animals and the sorting bowls, along with the hand tongs that I found at Walmart in the kitchen section. I also put out bags with name puzzles. This year I found a different border for every student so when a letter inevitably ends up out of a bag and on the carpet I can more quickly figure out whose it is.

The first set above is the one we have in our classroom. The second set has more colors but I have not seen it in person. These are both affiliate links.


Since my classroom theme is ocean based I decided to go with a sandy sensory bin.  The sand ended up being a bit dusty, so we ended up removing the sifters and spraying water periodically to keep the dust down.  This sand will end up being disposed of after this week since it was so dusty.  We chose some colored shells that were leftover from something, another couple sets  of hand tongs and fish theme ice cube trays from Walmart, and some ocean themed bath toys from Dollar Tree.


At the beginning of the year I like to have a pretend play theme that is not too complicated or with too many pieces to pick up at the end of centers time.  Since the next week is an About Me theme, doctor seemed to be a good choice.

I put the light table in pretend play to be the x-ray machine and examining table for the baby doll.  I found the x-rays at Tried and True.  I printed them on overhead projector sheets and laminated for durability.  I have some of the animal ones for when we switch over to a Vet theme later.


My science center needs to be a in more central location this year due to having more students and needing more spots for eating snack and lunch together.  I was planning that the science center would have two spots with the other two chairs for the waiting area for the doctor’s office.  This worked until more than two wanted to use the science center so I may end up having the science center have four spaces whenever it seems like it should be popular.

I have shells to be sorted and looked at with a magnifying lens as well as several sensory bottles and a view finder with ocean animals like the Amazon affiliate link above.


At the arts and crafts table we worked on our name mats as well as one other craft project this week.  I also made play dough, which I put in slide lock bags with names on them.  This gives students another reason to want to recognize their own names and helps with reducing germ sharing.  In addition, I rotated dot marker activities (found at Gift of Curiosity and 1+1+1=1 , cutting strips, and qtip painting on this table throughout the week.


I got a brand new Froggy to dress for the weather since mine had lost a foot at the end of the year after five years of use.  I managed to break our laminator while prepping to laminate him and was fortunate to have someone to come to my rescue and let me laminate him and his two large jackets.  The rest of the pieces fit in my small laminator.

I started my year with my ocean theme calendar.  I still have this alphabet set up in my circle time area, although I may update it with my ocean theme one soon.


I also completed my ocean bulletin board with my student crafts.  They put together scuba divers.  My daughter and I took photos of the students that I made into circles to glue on the face of each diver.  The children got to decide whether they wanted their diver to swim upward or downward.  I then helped them figure out how to place the head so it would be facing correctly.  This does mean that some of them look like they are wearing their oxygen masks on their stomachs.

Prepping for PreK Open House


The last week has been all about getting ready for our Sneak Peek, or Open House, in PreK.  There is lots of arranging furniture after the floors are buffed, printing and laminating items with student names, organizing supplies and labelling everything as well as decorating doors and bulletin boards.  Not to mention actually doing lesson planning.


Since I am sticking with an ocean theme this year I wanted to change up a few things, including my idea for the hallway bulletin board.  I often have student names on fish or have students create some kind of fish craft to put on the bulletin board, but I wanted something different this year.

A church member found that his work was going to throw away this large spool of blue plastic sheeting.  For those of you old enough to remember overhead projectors, the sheeting is about the consistency of those rolls, but blue in color.  The ocean themed bulletin board paper was looking like it had a few too many staple holes, so I was about to tear it down when I came up with the idea to cover it with the blue plastic sheeting.


I added a few fish to the board and then covered the bottom with a layer of the blue plastic sheeting.  You can see above a bit of the difference between the top fish and bottom fish.

I had to wait until I had some help for the top layer because that spool is heavy.  I will share the next step in the next post, along with our added student crafts which the students will work on during the first week of school.


Since I updated my Summer Fun question of the day set this summer, I decided I really needed to use some of them the first week of school.  I chose to use the question about liking tricycles or slides for the Sneak Peak Open House.  Slides was the winner for my classroom.

Question of the Day Bundle

If you don’t want to have to think about which question to ask every day all year, you can use all of my hard work with my Question of the Day Bundle.  I created it because I used to write the question every morning when I first started doing my question of the day and would sometimes be racing to come up with one before the first kid came in the room because it slipped my mind.

Ocean Theme Decor Bundle

As always happens, I have a new student to create name tags for before our first day of school.  I will have to get out my ocean themed name tags files from my decor bundle for some last minute additions.

Alphabet Bundle

On the agenda for the next couple of days before the official first day is making play dough, finishing up lesson plans, and trying to get ahead on printing from my Alphabet Bundle for at least the first month.  I also hope to get a few great photos of my bulletin board once completed because it makes me smile and one of my students was already fascinated with it.

Preparing Name Labels for PreK


When you finally get your class list you have a whole list of your own of things that need to get made for your classroom.  You need coat hook labels, cubbie labels, question of the day name response cards, and on and on.  Since I just got my list I pulled out two files from my Ocean Decor Bundle that I have used the last few years and my brand new editable file that I just created.

You can see my brand new editable file above.  I will use these for my Question of the Day responses as students come into the classroom.  I will make a new set later in the year with student last names on them so that they will know those as well for kindergarten.


My coat hook labels will have velcro on them so that they can be moved each week.  I keep the classroom jobs above the coat labels so the names move down each week to switch jobs.


Although I thought I had printed and laminated all the lunch bin labels I just noticed one label crumpled in the bottom of my backpack.  I went ahead and printed a label for myself and my assistant so we can have lunch bins as well this year since I had to print a new label to replace the crumpled one.

It is just about time for me to order some new laminating sheets for all of the back to school laminating.  I had great luck this past year with this set.  (This is an affiliate link.)

With any of my editable products, please be sure to open in Adobe Acrobat for successful editing.  When open in a browser the editing function will not work correctly.

You can find all of these labels in my Ocean Decor Bundle.

Ocean Theme Decor Bundle

If you have a forest theme I do have one freebie file of labels for you to use.

Forest Animal Editable Labels


Back To School Sale and a Giveaway


The Back to School sale is almost upon us at Teachers Pay Teachers.  I already have some goodies in my shopping cart to help me create some new things for my classroom this year.

The sale starts Wednesday, August 1st and continues Thursday, August 2nd.   You have the opportunity to save up to 25% off.  Just remember to use the code:  BTSFRESH.  I have personally forgotten to put in the sale code in the past and kicked myself for it.

If you purchase bundles on the sale days you will have the opportunity to save even more, since they are already discounted compared to purchasing the items separately.

The bundles in my shop that will be heading to the printer soon to get ready for the school year include these:

Alphabet Bundle

I already have the building cards laminated as well as the magnet pages, but I will be printing dot marker, stamping, and emergent readers all year long from my ABC Bundle.

Calendar Cards Bundle

I have many of these calendar cards already printed and ready to go, but I am sure I will end up printing at least one more set to switch things up this year.

Question of the Day Bundle

I just need to laminate the summer set from my Question of the Day Bundle since I updated it over the summer and want to use some of the questions for the first week of school.

Fall Math and Literacy Centers Bundle

I need to laminate the geoboard cards from my Fall Bundle.  As soon as I know for sure the names of my students I will be printing out the fall books with their names on each page.

Forest Animals Decor Bundle

I also have lots of classroom decor items, including some new bundles.  You can check out Classroom Decor in my shop to see more.

Before you go on your sale spending spree, be sure to leave feedback for any items on TPT that you have purchased in the past.  You receive credits for doing this that can be redeemed when you make your next purchase.  Another way to make your money stretch further.

What would the Back To School Sale be without a giveaway? I am giving away a $10 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers.  The giveaway will end at midnight Wednesday night so that I can send out your prize in time for you to make the most of it during the sale.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Using Question of the Day in PreK


Since I taught several summer camps this year I decided it was time to refresh the questions in my Question of the Day Summer Fun set.  This set has questions that are great for the beginning and end of the school year if you do not teach over the summer.  I usually use a few at the end of the year and a few at the beginning when kids are thinking of outdoor activities.

I place my questions on a long pocket chart that I purchased from Amazon; they apparently do not currently offer it through Amazon, so I linked directly to Lakeshore.  I hang it with Command Hooks (aff. link) on the back of our classroom bathroom door since that is near the entrance of the room.

The top of the lunch cubby area is where I place the students’ name cards so that they can find the card and answer the question before moving on to centers activities at the beginning of the day.  At the beginning of the year I put first names on the cards, but about halfway through the year I put last names so that they will begin to recognize those as well.

During circle time one of my students is in charge of counting the responses so that we can discuss the numbers, decide which number is larger, and discuss words like more, less, tie, and unanimous.  They get very excited when we get a unanimous response.


These Summer questions are also included in my Question of the Day Bundle, which has more than enough questions for the entire year.  I just have a few of my new questions to laminate for the new year and then I am set.

Welcome to PreK Week

Our first week of preschool was this past week.  I was able to finish getting my room all set up with my ocean themed items in plenty of time for our Sneak Peek.  I even had a new student enroll after our Sneak Peek and got her name everywhere in the room before school started.

Student names move down each week while jobs stay where they are
Student names move down each week while jobs stay where they are

My classroom jobs are placed over the coat hooks in my classroom.  I have to decide each year which jobs to use, based upon how many students are in the classroom.  I place velcro dots above the coat hooks and move the student names down one space each week to change jobs.  This way line leader is always at the head of the line and caboose at the end.  It also helps save the wall.  I used to move the jobs and ended up taking paint off the wall from moving them down each week.  The Helping Hands sign is part of my Ocean Decor Set, which also includes this set of jobs and more.

Question of the Day
Question of the Day

I purchased a new long green pocket chart for my Question of the Day.  I like that it is long enough that students can make one long column of names to answer the question.  It makes it easier to visually see which answer has more when we count and discuss during circle time.  If you need some questions for your Question of the Day, please check out that section in my shop.

Ocean Animal Sort
Ocean Animal Sort

For fine motor and math, I placed ocean animal sorters with matching color bowls and a couple types of grabbers to work on pincher grasp.  The sea animal counters are from Lakeshore.  The ones I see online do not have penguins, but appear to have sharks instead.  We also did a roll and graph with ocean animals.

Sandy Sensory Bin
Sandy Sensory Bin

My sensory bin had sand with shells, sea glass, and shark teeth to discover.  Students enjoyed using the sifters and scoops all week.  I had to sift through the entire bin of sand to pull out everything I had put in the sand.  I would not be surprised if someone discovers a shark tooth out in the playground sandbox later in the year since that is where I put the sand when I was finished.

Writing Center with colored sand
Writing Center with colored sand

Since it is the beginning of the year I want the writing center to be simple and fun.  My students thought the red, white, and blue sand were sprinkles and enjoyed trying to create the letter on the crab’s stomach.  I will admit there were students who also drew designs in the sand with the crabs.  The crabs are from Learning Resources, but I found an Amazon link here.

Ocean Calendar
Ocean Calendar

I use my ocean themed calendar for the beginning of the school year before moving on to fall themed sets.

Puffer Fish and My Seahorse
Puffer Fish and My Seahorse

Last year I had my octopus above my classroom all year, so I needed to change it up a bit for this year even though I really loved my octopus.  I decided to create a seahorse.  Our main craft for the first week were the puffer fish you see on the bulletin board.  They were inspired by these puffer fish.  With my students we painted the paper plates one day, then added eyes, mouth, fins, and white dots the next day.  I ended up doing the cutting since when I was first planning this I had several less students scheduled to be enrolled in my class.  Once I saw that the class was larger I knew we would not have time to do the cutting this early in the year without taking too much time.

Looking for items in my post?

Ocean Theme Decor Bundle

Fall Calendar Set

Question of the Day Bundle

How was your first week of school?


More Prep Work On My Ocean Theme Preschool Classroom

Coat Hook Cards and More Calendar Cards
Coat Hook and Lunch Bin Cards and More Calendar Cards

Prepping my classroom for a new year means lots of printing and laminating.  I finally decided to go ahead and print some things with student names on it yesterday.  Of course, I received a new student as soon as I did that so I had more printing and laminating to do today.

In my photo above you can see my lunch bin labels and coat hook labels, which can be found in my Ocean Decor Set.  The labels are editable so that you can type in your own student names.  I airbrushed out most of my students’ names in the photo above, but you can see a bit of the font from the first letter of the names.

As usual, I had a bit of space in my laminating sheets, so I printed up my Nursery Rhyme calendar cards for Hey Diddle, Diddle.  I will probably use these in March to go along with our literacy related themes that month.

Birthday Display
Birthday Display

I completed my birthday display today as well.  The poster in the middle is also part of my Ocean Decor Set.  I printed it as a poster and pieced it together before running it through the large laminator.  The gift bags are white with scrapbook paper glued to the front and ocean animals attached to the front with each student’s name and birthday written on them.  I laminate the ocean animals and write on them with sharpies.  At the end of the year the names and birthdays will come off with magic eraser.

Tomorrow I tackle the bulletin board and the dramatic play area.