Friday, April 26, 2013

They can't be beat.

Even though the best toys are things that aren't toys at all (sticks, rocks, sand, recyclables, loose parts, etc.) I do have a real soft spot in my heart for my Magna Tiles. They are magnetic, strong, and sturdy. They can be anything. 

I really love this. 


Do you think we can build a tower taller than we are? Yes! Yes, we can!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Literacy Everywhere

Every center is supposed to have opportunities for literacy. Do my kids daily look through books for ideas and sketch them out on this notepad? Ha, NO. But have I seen the books open? Yes. Over the course of the year, has that notepad eventually become full of doodles and words? Yes. 

I use these no-sew pockets that I made around my room for notepads and pencils, and I use planting pots for books. This set up is in the block center. 

I'm not much of a step by step instruction kind of gal, so here's another blogger that wrote a tutorial on the circle pockets!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Space Issues

I teach in a big classroom now, but that wasn't always the case. Last year my room was average or adequate. There definitely wasn't room for everything I wanted though. 

So my math center was a math cart. It just needed a parking spot in a corner. It was rolled wherever it needed to go. Typically I kept two baskets with activities, along with books and a puzzle on top. It worked. Functional is what we need!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ramps and Pathways

My camera seems to have lost its usual spot in my classroom, and I haven't been taking pictures. I finally resorted to taking a few on my decade old flip phone, in order to document a bit of what we've been doing around here lately. 
Ramps and Pathways is a book I've heard of. I hadn't even seen the cover until I google searched it just now, but I've heard wonderful things about its principles. 

What I did was simply supply my students with a variety of different types of blocks, tubes, and tunnels. I added a container full of balls, marbles, and things that roll. 

On the first day in large group, I put a cardboard gutter on the floor. Then I sat a marble on it. 

Me: "Hmm. I really wish I could get this marble on the other side of my gutter." 
Students: "Push it!" 
Me: "Oh, I could push it. Yes! That works! It got to the other side." 
Me: "I wonder if I could get it to the other side without using my hands." 
Student: "Blow it!"
Me: "I hadn't thought of that! Yes, we could blow it. Will you come try that? It worked!" 
Me: "I wonder if there is another way to do it?" 
Student: "You could hold one end up." 
Me: "That's another idea. Will you come try that and see if it works? Wow! It made it to the other side! I think we just made a ramp. I wish we didn't have to keep holding this up with our hands though. I wish it would stay." 
Student: "You could put something under it!" 

So, of course, we put something under it. And that is all I modeled or discussed with them in large group. 

So far they haven't used the blocks much to hold the ramps up though. They like this shelf as a launching point instead. 

They've found the bookshelf bottom across from it to make a good goal for catching the balls as they roll. 
After school on Friday I added one of these. I wonder what they'll do with it. 

Kindergarten Timeline

I'm not much of a "calendar" teacher. Sure, we have a monthly calendar up. Many days we point to the day. It makes about 12 seconds. Some days we don't. Personally, I just don't think they get it.

Rotational time is a difficult skill... repeating months, repeating days, the 2013th year since we decided to start counting  years the way we do. 

A timeline of OUR year though is something I can wrap my head around a little more. It starts in August. It ends in May. The summer months aren't even on it. Every so often I add some pictures with captions, "In September, the ranger helped us explore our five senses at Sesqui State Park." or "In February, we made a lot of things out of chocolate playdough." 

Especially now, as our year is coming to a close, I mention the timeline. "We've done so much this year. I notice there are only two months left to fill on the timeline. Then kindergarten will be over." 
Head shots are over the months for birthdays. It's the only way I can remember them myself!

Supply Catalogs

Order enough supplies over time and, of course, you'll be getting a quarterly supply catalog from every early childhood supplier that exists.  I hate the thought of all that good colored ink and paper going to waste. So it gets thrown onto the art shelf along  with scrap paper, glue, and scissors. It's always a popular item. 

Nicely enough, I hear "Ms. R, we have these in our room!!" much more than I hear, "Can we get these???" or "I want! I want!" (Though there is plenty in those catalogs that we don't have!) Luckily, they don't seem to equate me to having any buying power.