First Week of PreK Activities

NameMatsPin

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.

MathFineMotorPin

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.

SandySensoryPin

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.

DoctorPlayPin

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.

ScienceCenterPin

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.

PlayDoughPin

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.

CircleTimeAreaPin

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.

FinishedBoard1

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

GettingReadyForOpenHouse1

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.

PreppingBulletinBoard1

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.

PreppingBulletinBoard2

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.

Questionsforfirstweek

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

QuestionNameLabels

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.

CoatHookLabels

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.

LunchBinLabels

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

Slide09

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

QuestionUpdates1

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.

QuestionUpdates2

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.

 

Updating My Preschool Centers Signs

Laminating Ocean Theme Centers Signs and Winter Calendar Cards
Laminating Ocean Theme Centers Signs and Winter Calendar Cards

Since I apparently chose the wrong paper to use as a backing paper for my centers signs, the old ones were in desperate need of being replaced.  I had taken them all down because my room was being painted over the summer, which made me notice just how faded the backing paper was.  Note to self:  don’t laminate just any pretty paper that you want to hang on your wall all year long.

Printing new ones meant I could also switch up which set I use this year, so I decided to choose the Ocean Life Preschool Centers Signs this time around.  For the last couple of years I had been using the Blues and Greens set, which also matches the classroom jobs that I currently use.

I ended up having extra space at the bottom of each laminating sheet, so I looked ahead to see which calendar cards I still needed to print for the year.  I decided to print cards from my Winter Theme Calendar Set, so now I have calendar cards printed, cut, and laminated all the way through January.

New Class Pet
New Class Pet

My daughter and I have also gotten our new class pet set up in his tank, mostly thanks to my daughter who loves animals of all kinds and enjoyed doing most of the work for me.  She named him Jonah.

Do  you have a class pet?

Choosing Fall Calendar Cards

PreK Classroom Current State
PreK Classroom Current State

I keep seeing all of these classroom set ups that are beautiful and organized and ready for students.  In the meantime, my classroom looks like the photo above.  Thanks to a great volunteer and my director, my room just received a fresh coat of paint, which required my room to get to this state until the paint has a bit of time to set.

Acorn and sunflower ABAB set
Acorn and sunflower ABAB set

Despite this, I ventured into my room today to try out my fall calendar cards to see which ones I might like to use this autumn.  Before I printed them out I looked at my themes for the year to get an idea of which calendar cards I might want for each month of the entire year.  After doing that I penciled in a couple new ideas for calendar cards for the spring that I hope to add to my calendar bundle later.

Leaves and rake ABC pattern
Leaves and rake ABC pattern

I realized as I was taking these photos that I did not print the page with the days of the week to go along with my fall calendar numbers and month.  That will be next on my list.

Turkey and pumpkins ABB pattern
Turkey and pumpkins ABB pattern

I chose to make my calendar cards a bit smaller than the pocket because I have found that those too close to the same size as the pocket are really difficult for preschoolers to put in the calendar.  My cards try to take into account that you may have a laminated edge around the cards.  Even with this laminated edge there is room to easily slide the cards in and out of your calendar.

Interested in some calendar sets for your classroom? Just click the image below to check out the fall set. I added two more sets of months cards after I decided I just had to have a couple more choices for myself.

Fall Calendar Set

Cleaning and Rearranging My Preschool Classroom

Preschool graduation has come and gone.  Now is the time to clean and rearrange my preschool classroom.  I was fortunate enough to have a great helper along with two preschool student helpers work on scrubbing down all of the chairs, tables, and shelves in my classroom.

Stacked and clean and out of the way for the moment
Stacked and clean and out of the way for the moment

The chairs were in a lovely circle around the circle time rug to dry, thanks to my young helpers who pretended it was a castle.  I stacked them so I could do my rearranging and vacuum all the bits of Magic Eraser from the rug.

The photos in this post show the aftermath.  Now I am ready to start rearranging to get ready for Art Camp next week.  My preschool has three day camps each week of June; I will be teaching the first two this year. I will be using three easels, although only two were in the room when I snapped some photos.

Dramatic Play area looks rather empty right now, but soon will be filled with an ice cream shop
Dramatic Play area looks rather empty right now, but soon will be filled with an ice cream shop

The corner will become the ice cream shop.  Thankfully we already had a bin full of items to create the shop that we have used in other years and I will be adding just a few finishing touches to it before camp starts.

I will be spending tomorrow morning in my classroom, hoping to get most of the way ready so that I won’t have too much to think about when next week rolls around and it is camp time.

Does your school do anything different in the summer months?