Now that the you have had the opportunity to meet your students over the last little while, you can reflect on your daily schedule. Thinking it Through has a plan for both full and half days. http://earlylearningcentral.ca/?page_id=1218 . Some things can’t be changed due to the large schedules within your school, but you can always try to move things around if they are in the best interest of your students. Many schools are on the balanced day program with 3, 100 minute blocks of learning. I always ensure that my students get 60 minutes or more in one of those blocks, and a second block of about 45 minutes. The reason behind the time frames is to allow the children to explore the centre, select materials, create/manipulate, think and change, discuss, and share their learning without having to rush. They are learning how to learn!
During these next few weeks circulating the room with children would be a great opportunity to discuss with them what is available in each centre, behaviours, and routines. Remind them daily of what is available.
- Model the centre
- show what it looks like
- question for understanding
- have them model
- reteach where needed p. 10 Learning in Centres “Thinking it Through” http://earlylearningcentral.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/TIT-aug-8.pdf
I personally do not designate where children should be nor do I have number limits. Children move freely to different centres as it sparks their interest. My ECE partner or myself will call children over to work in small groups during this block of play the other circulates, documenting and asking questions as they pertain to our goals or big ideas for the centre. All children are responsible for the entire room clean-up.
Thinking it Through and Primarily Play have some great ideas on how to prepare your learning environment for this September. As I prepared for my students last September in a newly renovated space, it was difficult to picture how the room should look. Not only did I need to select suitable furniture that was purposeful, but create spaces where students could gather and engage in various centres. What I also needed to consider was that my students eat snack and lunch in my classroom so I needed to have enough furniture for that as well. The furniture had multiple purposes!
Over several days and several discussion with my ECE partner, we moved furniture and carpets into different work areas. As centres do change throughout the year, for the beginning we had set-up the House centre, a Block centre, a Science centre, the main carpet area with a shelf of various toys like Lego, small foam and wooden blocks, cars and ramps etc., an Art centre, Music centre, Math centre and a reading shelf (which we later changed and are continuing to change!). We kept the materials to a minimal for the first few weeks of school so we could practice with our students rules and routines, and slowly add as we learning more about them. Items within the centres had purpose and were organized to engage the students in their new environment.
Next we worked on clutter! Whatever we did not need we found a storage place elsewhere in the building and we talked both to the principal and janitor to find the space. Between the two Kindergarten classrooms we worked together on sharing equipment and toys. Keep in mind this is not an easy task to complete in one day and you for sure will make changes as you see fit throughout the school year.
Today was my first day back in our classroom since the end of the year in June. I hadn’t realized how much I missed it, until I walked through the door to our room.
Throughout the summer, I had picked up little things here and there. I had collected flower petals, leaves, art supplies, books, etc…I had thought about our first week of school and what we do.
My teaching partner and I arranged to meet today. We first discussed what we wanted our first week of school to be like for our students. Since we became partners, we gave each other respect, and listened to one another’s thoughts and ideas. We have had been able to do our planning together and work collaboratively for the best interest of our students. Today, we both had the same thought…lots of play. This would give us time to interact with all of the children, and to start to get to know them. It was also give the new students an opportunity to feel more comfortable and secure during their first week at school.
We set up our sand table, and buried crabs with letters on them for the children to search for. We filled our book centre with stories and picture books about school, being yourself and friendship. Our math centre has simple math manipulatives, especially lots of blocks in it. Our art centre has several containers filled with things children can create whatever they want to with. The dramatic play centre is set up as a house. On the shelves around our large carpet, we have put toys that can promote fine motor skills, as well as encourage the children’s imaginations. We have a gas station, trucks, maps, puppets, puzzles, Lego, and other toys for the children to explore. We will also set up our paint easel before the day begins.
After spending the day at school, I am not only ready for Tuesday, but I am genuinely excited for school to begin!