Preparing the preschool environment

There was a time in my teaching career when I spent the majority of my preparation time researching and writing out my daily lesson plans. This was time well spent, make no mistake about that. Because of all those years writing and implementing my own lesson plans, I built up a library of ideas that I can now draw from in a pinch. From fingerplays and children’s books on just about any topic to ideas for art, math, science – I have years of experiences I can pull together at a moments notice right off the top of my head. However, where I used to spend my time writing lesson plans, I now spend the majority of my time creating and organizing the classroom environment..

Preparing the preschool environment by Teach Preschool

You see, it isn’t the lessons that I have planned that ultimately teach my preschoolers how to get along, make good decisions, and work independently. It’s the environment that fosters this type of learning…

Preparing the Preschool Environment by Teach Preschool

And it isn’t the lessons that I have planned that will ultimately teach my young students to be creative, mathematical, scientific, critical thinkers. The environment teaches that too…

Preparing the Preschool Environment by Teach Preschool

So I spend much of my time making sure every area of my classroom is carefully considered and that each area is as intentional in design as I can possibly make it…

However, now I spend the majority of my time creating and organizing my classroom environment. Today, I want to share a few of my reflections on the classroom environment...

From what goes up on the walls…

Preparing the Preschool Environment by Teach Preschool

To what sits on each shelf around the classroom…

Preparing the Preschool Environment by Teach Preschool

To what is on the back of a bookshelf….

Preparing the Preschool Environment by Teach Preschool

To what is down on the floor…

Preparing the Preschool Environment by Teach Preschool

Everything has a purpose or reason for being there…

Preparing the Preschool Environment by Teach Preschool

So what are my lesson plans for? They help me come to preschool prepared to assist the environment in the teaching and learning process, but not to take over the environment…

Preparing the Preschool Environment by Teach Preschool

I think both the lesson plan and the environment add value to the preschool classroom as long as one understands the value and role each play in helping children find success…

Preparing the Preschool Environment by Teach Preschool

The lesson plan and the environment must work in partnership…

The lesson plan helps the teacher come prepared for a successful day

but the environment helps the children prepare for a successful life!

 

A multipurpose interactive bulletin board

No matter how large or small a classroom is, there is always a new way to make the more out of your space.  My indoor classroom is relatively small and so it is important to use each area of our classroom to its maximum potential without it becoming cluttered or congested.  Today, I want to share with you our multipurpose interactive bulletin board…

Bulletin Board by Teach Preschool

We have lots of large wonderful windows in our classroom which I love but this also means we only have limited amount of wall space.  I use the wall space wisely so to offer as much as I can to the children while still keeping our environment attractive.  On one wall we have what I refer to as our name or snack board doubled with our directions board.

Multi-Purpose Interactive Bulletin Board by Teach Preschool

At the bottom of the board, there is a line of pockets and each pocket has a child’s name on it.  We use this for the children to pull out their names throughout the day.  Each morning the children remove their name from their pocket and put it on our classroom attendance chart…

Multi-Purpose Interactive Bulletin Board by Teach Preschool

On some days, the children put their names back in the pockets after they have eaten snack and on other days, the children put their names back into the pockets before they go home.  It all depends on the day…

Multi-Purpose Interactive Bulletin Board by Teach Preschool

The top of the board is called our Directions Board.  It takes exactly 4 sheets of large construction paper to cover the top half of the board. I tape four sheets of construction paper together and create different sets of “directions” for the children to follow depending on the day and the activity planned for the table directly below the board.  Currently the board has our heart display which was shared last week on the blog…

Multi-Purpose Interactive Bulletin Board by Teach Preschool

However, when we need the top of the board for a different display, we simply staple a new display right over the top of the heart display then take the new display down when we are done. Like the classroom map below, we only needed it up for an hour of our day…

Multi-Purpose Interactive Bulletin Board by Teach Preschool

The reason I call the top of our board a directions board is because we have been working with the children on learning to “read” and follow simple directions by creating displays to add to the board.  The children are getting very good at following the directions on the board.  The processes that accompany the directions are open ended but there are always steps that can be given on the directions board to help the children understand what the process is all about…

Multi-Purpose Interactive Bulletin Board by Teach Preschool

For the board above, we were working on drawing lines with a ruler.  The children made snowflakes but their snowflakes didn’t (and wasn’t expected) to turn out exactly like the one on the board. Since was our first time using the directions board, I did choose to show the complete process so the children understood how to read the directions and what the process looked like from beginning to end. It is important to note that the focus of the board is about reading and following directions – not controlling their freedom to explore.  If the children head off into a direction that wasn’t on the board – we go with it.  The children are given all the space they need to interpret the directions in their own way or with their own creative spin during the process..

Multi-Purpose Interactive Bulletin Board by Teach Preschool

With each new display I made for the Directions Board, I add different elements like numbers to identify steps in the correct order or complete sentences or different objects that illustrate what the directions are.  The children learn to start from the left side of the board and follow the steps to the right side (promoting left to right reading progression) and to look for clues as to what the words might say under or over each word (or sentence) on the board (deductive reasoning or predictable print)…

Multi-Purpose Interactive Bulletin Board by Teach Preschool

During morning circle, we do a brief review of the board. I ask the children to look at the board tell me what they think might be the first thing they are to do. For our students who are almost ready to read, we read the words aloud with them or for them. Those who are not readers, love to think they can read and always tell me what they think the words on the board say and for the most part, they get much of what the board says pretty darn close…

Multi-Purpose Interactive Bulletin Board by Teach Preschool

For me personally, I love the directions board. It helps me think through how to share a process in simple steps and yet keep the process open ended so the children can interpret the process in their own way.  It also makes me prepare more completely for a process, think it through a bit, and make sure it is reasonable for the children to do entirely on their own…

Multi-Purpose Interactive Bulletin Board by Teach Preschool

With each new display, the children are getting better and better at following the directions entirely on their own. The older children follow it easily, the younger children took about two weeks before they even remembered to look up and see that they could follow what was on the board.  I am also getting better at recognizing what to add and what not to add to the board so that it is all about the needs and abilities of the children in my class…

Multi-Purpose Interactive Bulletin Board by Teach Preschool

Using a bulletin board for more than just one purpose can help those of you with smaller classrooms to do something extra for your students.  You just have to think outside the box a bit!

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow On

Bulletin Board Ideas on Pinterest

Taking the Word Wall Beyond the Wall by Teach Preschool

Parent Boards in the Preschool Classroom by Teach Preschool

Reading spaces for a toddler

A great way to create a toddler’s interest in children’s books is to integrate books into their play environment. Often times, we get stuck with the idea that books belong on shelves or in a basket on the floor. We want to keep them organized and clean but for toddlers, the best place for a book is where the toddler likes to play….

Little red reading wagon

My niece, Clara, loves to go for wagon rides around the house and her parents discovered that while riding around in her wagon, Clara will sit and look through her books…

Clara’s mom and dad eventually plan to move the wagon outside but Clara is enjoying it so much inside that they have decided to wait. So, for now this is Clara’s special reading wagon…

Creating reading spaces

Take a look at your toddler’s play space and keep books close by. Don’t worry so much about keeping the books organized on a shelf or in a basket. Besides, have you ever noticed that if you put a book on a shelf or in a basket that the first and often the only thing a toddler will do is take all of the books off the shelf or out of the basket? Perhaps integrating books in other ways throughout your toddler’s play space will invite the toddler to take a look at the book rather than just toss the books aside.

Safety tip…

Clara likes to stand up in the wagon too and her mom and dad have to remind her that she has to sit down to play in the wagon. So remember – Don’t leave a toddler unattended in a wagon!

Literacy Beginnings

We are on to chapter four of our book blog party. Prekinders will discuss chapter 4 – An Organized, Engaging Environment for Learning so be sure to stop by!

Are preschoolers interested in magnets?

I would have to answer the question to the title of this post as a big “YES”!

What caught my attention about today’s play with magnets was that the little boy was playing with the magnetic toys on the side of a book shelf….

At first, I thought the entire side of the shelf was magnetic but after looking a little closer, I realized that he had discovered that only the screws were magnetic and was engaged in this most unusual discovery and play…

Other children were playing with the magnetic toys as well in their own way. I often see the children turn the magnetic toys into microphones…

And building tall towers…

But I have to give this little one a hand for the most creative and out of the box idea I have seen so far. Through his play, he was discovering how many magnets can line up before falling down and which side of the magnets will attract and which will repel.

Letting children have time to freely explore their environment can lead to wonderful discoveries and opportunities for learning.

I would have ever thought to integrate the magnetic toys with the screws on the side of the bookshelf – I have learned something new about our learning environment and the ingenuity of the children in this class just by observing.

Bravo!

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By | February 11th, 2011|Categories: Centers, Classroom Setup, The Value of Play|Tags: , , , |11 Comments