Family Pumpkin Decorating Project

Thursday, October 10, 2019 No comments
Fall has finally arrived in Georgia! I am loving the cool breeze, especially considering this time last week it was 98° outside. 😴 Fall is also my favorite theme to do in my classroom! I love talking about leaves, pumpkins, animals, apples, and of course, Halloween!

One project that we enjoy doing in our classroom is sending home pumpkin templates for each child and their family to decorate at home. We love to see how all of the families decorated their pumpkins and how creative they can be. It's also fun to see how excited each child gets when they get to show everyone how they decorated it. We also display these pumpkins on our bulletin in the hallway for everyone else in the school to see as well. Every time we walk by the board, each child will point out their pumpkin. This activity encourages parent involvement as well as fosters a positive home/school environment.

Here are some pictures of our pumpkins on the board:

Enjoy this free resource!
Tip: Print out the pumpkin on cardstock paper for durability and print out the letter home on orange Astrobright paper for color!

Family Pumpkin Decorating Project

Rainbow ABC Pasta and Rice Sensory Activity

Monday, September 23, 2019 No comments

One of my students' favorite things is playing at the sensory table! Add rainbow pasta and they are extra excited! For this month's sensory activity I dyed some ABC pasta in rainbow colors and put them with plain rice. I was going to dye the rice as well, but I love the way that the colorful letters and numbers pop with the white rice! At first, I put some funnels and scoopers in the rice so that the students can investigate. Later I will put plastic letters in the mix as well. 

Sensory activities give young children the opportunity to learn by activating the different senses and different parts of their brains. It's also so much fun and provides a hands-on approach to learning! Some other ideas include hiding letters in the rice and having the students look for a certain letter, practice measuring with different measuring cups, or weighing cups of rice with a balance scale. Of course, you can just give your students materials and let them create their own learning activity, you will be amazed at what they come up with!

 How to Dye Rice or Pasta:

*Rice and/or pasta ( I used a box of ABC pasta)
*Sandwich size Ziploc Bags
*Gallon size Ziploc Bags
*Food Dye in different colors (I love the neon colors!)
*Rubbing Alcohol (do not allow the children to handle the alcohol)
*Wax Paper
*Cookie Sheet Pan

1. Separate the rice or pasta into different sandwich size Ziploc bags.
2. Pour a TBSP of rubbing alcohol in each of the bags (This should be done by an adult.)
3. Put a few dots of one color of dye in each bag.
4. Close the bag and massage the dye and alcohol into the pasta/rice.
5. Pour each bag out onto a cookie sheet with wax paper making sure to spread it out evenly.
6. Leave out overnight to dry.
7. Put all dry pasta/rice into a gallon bag, close the bag, and massage the bag breaking up any clumps.
8. Pour into a container and enjoy!

Organizing the Preschool Classroom

Thursday, September 19, 2019 No comments

I can't believe that we are already a month into the school year! The beginning of the year seems to fly by because of how busy we are with the new students and routines. We are finally getting into our "groove" and the students are getting more comfortable with our routine. I have such a sweet group and I can tell that we are going to have a great year! With this being the sixth year of teaching this class in my room, I decided to spruce up our decor. Our theme has always been rainbow chevron because I made curtains out that fabric years ago, so our new decor still fit that theme, but freshened it up a bit.

It's important to make sure that your room flows in order to optimize play, decrease distractions, and keep the room organized. For instance, in my room the reading center is on the other side of the room from the kitchen and block centers so that it is (a little bit) quieter for the students that would like to relax and read books. The dress-up center is next to the kitchen and the dolls so that the students can use all of these materials in their creative play and the blocks and cars are together so that those students at that center can use all of these materials together to create whatever they would like. We have tables in the middle of the room for snack time, rotations, and art. The rug and calendar at the front of the room are used for circle time, read alouds, and group activities. One thing is for sure, wherever we are in the room, we are never in one place for very long!

I hope you enjoy this peek into my classroom!

Calendar and Morning Meeting Area

Rainbow Chevron arrow numbers that we line up on and each child's cubby.

 Our PLAY sign above our home living and block/cars centers.
Blocks and cars center.

Kitchen, dolls, dress-up, and sensory table.

Reading Center

Book Buddies

Art Center and portable art cart.

Bulletin display board outside of my room.

Rainbow cart with supplies and the treasure box.

5 Great Ways to Build Relationships with Your Students and Parents at the Beginning of the Year

Saturday, August 31, 2019 No comments

I can't believe that it is already the last day of August! Where has the time gone? I am already a couple weeks into the school year and things have really amped up. I love the beginning of the year because it gives you a fresh new start and it's always so exciting to welcome new students and families to the school and classroom. It is especially exciting for my early learners (Pre-K3) because they are the youngest at the school which goes up to 12th grade. This is hopefully the beginning of a long school experience on our campus (many students start in Pre-K and stay until graduation). I also love that I can continue to see these students as they grow throughout the years. I can't believe that my first group of early learners at this school are already in the 3rd grade! It's been so fun watching them grow and I love that they still remember me because they continue to see me throughout the years.

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind, but have been so much fun! I have loved getting to know my new little ones and their families. I have also been working on building relationships with the parents of my students and creating a connection between home and school. Some ways in which you can build these relationships at the beginning of the year are:

1. Postcards- A couple weeks before school starts, I send postcards to the students introducing myself and telling the child how excited I am to have them in my class. This helps build that connection with the child before meet & greet. The students love getting these! I have even heard of a few students over the years that have carried these postcards around with them because they were so excited about getting them and starting school!

2. Emails to Parents- I also send an email to all of my parents before school starts to welcome them to the classroom and reminding them about meet & greet.

3. Meet & Greet- This is such a great time for students and families to meet you and explore the room. The students especially love seeing where their cubby, their spot on the carpet, and their seat is. It's also fun to give them a small treat or surprise to welcome them to the classroom. I print out these tags and attach them to a glow stick to give to each student. Glow Stick Tag

4. Parent Share Conferences- During the first few days of school, we have Parent/Teacher conferences which gives the teacher and parents time to get to know each other and for the parents to share about their child, ask any questions that they may have, and talk about their goals for the year. When we have our conferences in October, I follow up on these goals and talk about their child's progress. This also gives the parents a chance to talk about their child's strengths and weaknesses and helps them to feel that you know more about different aspects of their child's life besides what you see at school.

5. Open House/Parents' Night- This is a time for parents to come in and learn about the specific curriculum and activities that are taught in the classroom. This time also gives them a chance to ask any other questions that they might have. I also like to talk a little more about myself, my family, my teaching experiences, and my school experiences. I also like to provide the families with special treats including water bottles with lemonade. Open House Lemonade Tags

Building strong relationships with the students and families at the beginning of the year is important to creating a close-knit and positive classroom environment and sets the tone for the year. When you work to get to know and understand each family and child's home culture and needs, you are creating a strong home-school team and support for the family. In my experience, this positive start to the year also helps the parents feel that you are both on the same team and they are not as quick to assume the worst or get as upset when things don't go the way they think they should. This also helps if you have a difficult situation to talk to a family about, they are more prone to believe that you want what's best for their child because you take the time to listen and understand each student in the class.

Wishing the best for everyone this year!

Preparation is KEY

Thursday, July 25, 2019 No comments

August is quickly approaching and summer is coming to an end. This is always such a bittersweet time for me as a teacher. By May, my family and I are in desperate need of a break. A break from schedules, waking up early, planning, homework, ect. Last year was especially hard for us, so this summer allowed us to fully decompress and rest. Last summer we moved, so this summer we made no plans, which was amazing. As much as I wanted to go on a trip, it was great for us to have no agenda and allowed us the time to recuperate. It took the whole month of June for me to finally feel like I was ME again. Now it's the end of July, and as many summers are, I start to get a little antsy and excited about the upcoming school year. I love sleeping in, but I start to crave a schedule again. My own children definitely need a schedule, and to be away from each other for a bit.

I am going into my sixth year at the school I am at, and especially after last year, I am starting to revamp my classroom. Even though the students are new every year, as teachers we can get tired of the same routine sometimes. We also learn and grow and discover new ways of teaching and new breakthroughs in early child development. As most teachers know, teaching is not just about what happens in the classroom, but about the hours of preparation and planning that goes into the job. As a preschool teacher, it is especially important to make sure that what you are planning is appropriate for the age and development of your students.

When planning an activity, I find myself running through different scenarios that could happen in my mind to see if what I am planning will actually work in the classroom. Of course, you can't plan for everything, but I can at least avoid some chaos if I think it through. After 15 years of teaching young children, I can predict some outcomes, but my students never cease to surprise me! Another aspect that I consider is that each class is very different from the one before. I have a set plan with themes and activities, but how I execute it in the classroom differs from year to year. Some years I can get to more in-depth activities and learning, and other years I feel like I am just trying to survive. I am lucky to have already met my new class and their families and I am looking forward to starting fresh and building relationships in my classroom.

Here's to a great 2019-2020 school year!


Saturday, July 6, 2019 No comments

When is the perfect time to start a teacher blog? In the summer 🌞! I took all of June to recover from a crazy year (it was a doozy), then I started thinking of ways in which I can expand and grow. After finishing my master's degree last year, I began to wonder how I can start to express what I have learned after teaching Kindergarten and preschool for 16 years as well as getting two degrees in Early Childhood Education. It dawned on me that I can share my passion for teaching hands-on and developmentally appropriate activities in my classroom through a blog! So welcome to my crazy teacher/mom/wife life! I look forward to sharing classroom activities, lessons, decor, and organization as well as some personal life ramblings as well.

Speaking of crazy, we also added a new puppy to the family 🐶! I've lost some precious sleep, but isn't Cora adorable?!