Friday, September 4, 2015

a new year, a new classroom set up with details!

Howdy folks! This year my classroom got new floors. Our carpets were a bit on the sad side so the school district came in and set us up with new floors (we lease our space from the district). We were hoping for something a little less busy but we'll take what we can get. The best part about having a tiled (laminate?) floor is that we can pop that easel anywhere in the classroom, and so we did! We also took advantage of having the entire room emptied out by rearranging everything when we brought it all back in. The three-year-old classroom was the most recent class added to the school (which goes all the way up to twelfth grade) and we often get cast-offs from other rooms so it's a little hodge-podgey but it works. There are two of us who share the room and we think this year we have finally found a winning combo in floor arrangement and materials. Crossing fingers at least! Up top you will find a photo of our science/nature table. We moved it back to under the window to take advantage of the natural light. The first week of school is generally loosely planned so that we can get a feel for how the children will use the space. We do not put out a whole lot but do thoughtfully arrange items.
Here is the view from the doorway. New floors! The floors make the room appear a little lighter and airier. They also reflect the light back out into the room making it appear brighter. I love that as I am not a fan of the overhead lights.
 I managed to hit up an IKEA on the way home from a mini road trip. I picked up this four-cubed Kallax for $35! This is what we call opur fine motor shelf. Each shelf holds a baslet or tray with items inside that encourages fine motor wark. The children may take a basket off a shelf and move it to the floor or coffee table in front. When they are finished, they return the tray or basket back to the shelf they removed it from.
Here is the view from the fine motor shelf into our kitchen area. We pulled in our old fine motor table into the kitchen to use as a group project table and to eat on at lunch. Previously we had a very large shelf unit defining the space but it was awkward to get into for our art supplies and made it the space smaller so we had to use three smaller tables for the kiddos to eat off of. We also put curtains over two sets of our window shelves. We needed more storage and the shelves are a bit too shallow to put items on. The middle shelf set will still be used for our artist study area.
These small white shelves used to have doors on them. I nixed the doors and the additional shelves to create an open space for our math materials. We use these fixtures to separate our circle rug area from the rest of the classroom. I plan on putting felt on the back of the shelves but keep forgetting to get spray adhesive or mounting tape to do so. Each shelf will hold one basket or tray on the bottom and one on the top for math exploration. There is a table available to work at or the children can use the carpet.
These are the items on our math shelves. I found the graduating cylinders on Zulily. I love watching the children play with these. They get quite creative and will play alone, side by side, or together. We put these out at the beginning of the year to go along with our week of Little Blue, and Little Yellow, then I move them to our artist study area to accompany our study on Vassily Kandinsky.
Unifix cubes! Here we pulled out the blue, yellow, and green cubes to go along with the literature for the week. Already these cubes have been turned into swords, brooms, and measuring sticks. The green place mat underneath was a Homegoods find. Four place mats for $4. It adds a bit of texture to the room.
A simple set of canisters (Pringles, anyone?) with color coded holes on top and a pile of pipe cleaners in corresponding colors. A parent made these for us a few years ago and they get a lot of use. The children play with these in all sorts of ways as well. Sometimes the pipe cleaners disappear and end up in other areas of the classroom. It's always an adventure!
Two types of magnet tiles/blocks. Here we pulled out all of the green, blue, and yellow again to go along with the literature. Since there are limited colors and shapes the children have to get creative in what they wish to build. This basked of tiles has already been turned into a house that fits three of our dollhouse dolls and a toilet because "every house needs a potty" according to one of ht kiddos.
And, the return of the curler table! This time with added pom poms! The children stack, organize, sort, and build  with them. There is a lot of social activity going on and the parents are always surprised at the medium! Curlers for the win!
We moved our block area to where our reading corner used to be. The big hunk of furniture that holds most of our art supplies was pushed up against the wall to the right. This separates the area from the circle rug and gives it a little more definition. We left the canopy up to add a bit of soft to the area. Building with blocks on our new floors is a little tricky as small fingers can get punched when there is rushing going on. The kiddos are learning a new type of respect.
Our Froebel balls are out and on top of our fine motor shelf to add a splash of color and familiarity. Not pictures on the remaining shelves are a tray of yellow, blue, & green beads with pipe cleaners for bracelet beading; colorful wood shapes and laces for more threading, a tray of transparent circles for Little Blue and Little Yellow retelling, and a basket with felt pieces in yellow, blue, & green along with small objects in matching colors for color sorting. I love this shelf!

And finally, our reading nook which is still a work in progress. It's a little larger than the old nook and more inviting but needs a little more oomph. We're working on it. For now there is a garland of book covers matching the books we will be reading for the first twelve weeks of school. We're hoping to add photos or other art work to the area as time goes by. We hope this new arrangement all around will help with classroom management and keep a little lid on the want to run around in here. So far, the change has been tremendous! Thank you for checking out our classroom! Come back soon!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

stamping with farm animals

This activity is more about the process than the product (as it should be). The kiddos in my classroom really enjoyed this activity, spending a lot of time pressing the animal into the stamp pad, examining the color on the feet and then pressing or stampeding across the paper. Cause and effect in action.
 Here is the invitation to investigate. Set out paper and have extra sheets available for the next kiddo or for your kiddo to create another stamping. We limited the ink pads to Fall colors and had many discussions on the colors, their names, what objects in nature match, how they were warm colors, etc.
The kiddos knew exactly what they wanted to do. The other stamps were cleared out in favor of the farm animals. We spent time talking about the different animals, naming them, and making their sounds. Many of the children in the classroom have farm animals at home. Chickens mostly, but one other had a goat and a pig. A lot of conversation surrounded the rooster and chickens.
She thought the stand the goose's feet were on was hysterical. We talked about why the goose figure had a stand while the cow did not. She learned new words such as balance, stand, and leverage.
Have you ever watched a kiddo make art? There is a lot of dialog, even when there is no one else there. I love the sound effects. Here she began with honking but ended with a silly song she made up.
When the rooster came in to play, it was a down and out barn dance! I think this young lady spent all of her discovery time at the table here. Trying out each animal, examining the differences in the prints, mixing ink colors, and learning, learning, learning.
Here the cow makes an appearance as he decorates this young person's paper. I was both surprised and not surprised by all that was happening and learned at the stamping table. Don't let the farm animals have all the fun! Try using cars, dinosaurs, reptiles, or insects! Have fun!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

cars and trucks and things that go: classroom set up

books! books! books!
sorting fun plus however they choose to use...
fine motor peg work
construction vehicle magnets
train patterning or matching
nuts and bolts for fine motor and investigation
adding tickets to the art table
investigating movement and building
our science table: how does it move?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

busy busy busy

These days, the kiddos get busy as soon as they're in the classroom! I've been so busy talking to them about their work, helping them work through ideas, and setting out supplies they ask for that I never get to photograph the centers I set up. Here are a few from the past few weeks:
painting rocks with water
meadow play on the building table
small rocks and golf tees at the play dough table
butterfly matching game
symmetry play with our magnetic butterflies
tray of bells
snails and baby snails!
scissors work and parsley
fine motor meadow
sound blocks on the block shelf
frames on the block shelf
play aphids on the block shelf
wood butterflies and cedar rings on the block shelf

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

ladybug invasion

The ladybugs in the classroom danced, twirled, built, painted, and played today. It has been an immense delight to see. Sigh. Our school year is almost over and I have months and months of classroom fun to write about. This is going to be a busy summer!

Friday, April 24, 2015

circle time shelf part 2

The top of our shelf. The boombox bit the dust a month or so ago but we keep it there as a space saver for the new soon-to-be box. Crossing fingers we get one before the year ends.  We feature the book of the week on the book-stand at the right.  The children know that whichever book is there we will most definitely be reading that week.
We use Mary Engelbreit's Mother Goose book in the classroom but I brought this one in as well as it is the one I grew up with (alongside this one). This little succulent garden is a smidge tired. I blame Home Depot and their wee collections that are GLUED in place. There are small rocks on top of the soil and the rocks are glued together making it ridiculously hard to separate and re-pot.
I'm working on teaching the kiddos about feelings and empathy. These wee kimochis are popular with the kiddos though they see every face as being either happy, sad, or angry. Even so they love them and we use them a lot.
My impromptu texture basket using what we had on hand. I want to make little texture pillows for next year. We'll see. Inside you will find things that are bumpy, coarse, fuzzy, smooth, soft and ridged. I also have a mystery bag that I use. The children pull out an object and we decide as a group who has a soft object, hard object, etc. We talk about using descriptive words and the children gain new vocabulary. It's pretty cool.
The whole pretty shelf. Next year we will be scootching it a bit to the left or maybe a lot and using some other shelf that is a little lower so as not to block our circle-time board.
Here's the view of our circle-time area from where the kiddos sit. You can see the mystery bag on top of the sharing chair which was intended to be the teacher's chair but we tend to plop ourselves down on the floor with the kiddos. The children place their sharing items on top and they know that anything on the chair is for eyes only until after sharing. Inside the ottoman you will find our bean bags which I had to hide because the kiddos like to throw them everywhere. When they get crazy with throwing I ask if they need to play the bean bag game then the top comes off, the bean bags are parceled out and they try throwing the bags into the chair. Sometimes they tell me they want to play it and we set it all up with tape on the floor and everything. I need to make new rainbow bean bags for next year as the bags we have are not able to be equally divided and the threes are very particular about that.

Group art created by both classes is put on this board along with our Nursery Rhyme of the week. The shelf to the right there is a puzzle shelf (I found this at the Goodwill outlet for $2!) On top of the shelf is this sweet little game that the children love. Leaning against the shelf is our song notebook, a cookie sheet for magnet play and drawing on, and a felt board for felt stories.
The children memorize a Nursery Rhyme each week and take turns reciting it in front of their friends. We learned this rhyme in sign language thanks to a lovely parent. I put the paint chips there to review our colors in rainbow order and sign language. We also practice putting them into a color wheel shape, and separating them into warm and cool colors (though the children really love making train tracks with them). Behind the purple you will see a few Spot It! cards. I gave my game away but had a sample pack that we use during math and/or discovery time.

That's it for our circle time area, I hope you had fun touring it with me!