Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Creating an Effective Learning Environment

I started this process of redesigning all of my learning centers about a year ago.  I sat down and really took a look at the Preschool Learning Foundation and the Common Core Standards. I wanted to ensure that I was providing children with the most effective learning environment that I could.   

Here is a before picture of my home living center.  Not much to write home about or now days pin about. 

 Here is our classroom home living center now.

 You won't believe this but I did not have to spend a dime to create this.  You ask how?  These walls were in the surplus (items that have been removed from other areas of the school and placed in storage).  All I had to do was dig them out.  Once we dug out the walls we discover that they were too tall, did I give up goodness no I just kept on singing.  Our administrator found a local cabinet maker that would cut then down for us, just because he liked us or should I say her.

 A local artist came in and painted a window to give me the allusion of having a window since there are no windows in my classroom.  Now I can pretend to be looking out onto the Sutter Buttes.

 When we redesigned the home living area we wanted to give the children a more real feel to their pretend play, so we got rid of all the small play dishes and brought in real size plates, bowls, cups and real pots and pans.  This way all of the pretend food fits like it should as they play.

 Rain gutters were hung on the walls of the home living center to provide a resting spot for cook books which promotes the literacy/language into the area (ELLCO).  Also clipboards, menus, and newspapers were added to the area to enhance the children's learning experience.

If you want to take the challenge and redesign your classroom we strongly suggest that you take a look at our Classroom Design Workbook to help you with the overwhelming, but rewarding process.  This workbook will help guide you step by step through the process as well as coming up with goal for each learning center.

Here is a freebie to dress up your home living center.  Just click on the links below.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Wreaking Ball Fun

The children have been asking to knock over their block structures in different ways.  They have pushed, kicked, and rolled balls into the structures to knock them down, but they wanted to know how do builder people (construction workers) knock over building.  This lead to a discussion on wreaking balls. 

I then went home and raided my husband garage for scrap PVC pipe and fittings to create a frame for the children to experiment with wreaking balls. 

For the first attempt the children decided on a wiffle ball that they could tie to the end of the string.  They did their count down !0, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 away it goes.  Nothing happened.

Child "It didn't work."

Child "It was not heavy enough"

Child "We could tie a block to end."

Teacher, "How are you going to make sure the block will not come off?"

Child "Tape it."

 Second attempt 10....1 away it goes. 


Child "It fell over."

Child "What if we make a bigger castle?"

Child "Can we try other things?"

Teacher "Yes, what do you need?"

Child "A rock."

Teacher "How can you attach it to the string?"

Child "Wrap it around."

Child "We can tape it."

Child "It is going to take a lot of tape."

 I chalk today up to a very successful day!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Winter Learning Fun

We have been reading One Snowflake at a Time, The Biggest Snowman Ever and Snowballs.  The children have enjoyed listening to all of them but they have really enjoyed Snowballs because of all the different type of items the book showed to make a snowman and even a snowcat.

Snowmen Props to help bring stories and songs alive.  I think I had just as much fun making them.

It only snows here about once every ten years so we substituted the snow for paper snowballs and a pretend snowball fight.  

Counting and Write Snowflake Mats 

Snowmen Art Children Style.  

Letter Sorting Mats

Say, Trace and Write Mats 1 to 20

Play Dough Fun, just add sticks, bottle tops, buttons and scrap fabric.  Let children create what they want, but I am sure some snowpeople will appear.  

Say It, Count It, Write It Math Mats are one of the children favorite games that we play.  This one is a hot coco mug and the children roll the dice identify the number, count out the marshmallows and write the number.  These are always on the top of my list when it comes to teaching children how to count and recognize numbers.

Catch a snowflake dice mat game. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bringing in the Outside

Children have a natural inclination to learn about nature.  It is up to us as their teachers to provide them with a rich environment that provides them with the opportunity to inquire, observe and discover an understanding about the world around them. 

When it came time for me to redesign my science lab center I wanted this area to reflect the outdoors.  We want the children to feel like this area was just an extension to the outdoors.  We did this by adding reed fencing around the area to give it a more outdoor feel.  We also brought in stumps to give the children an uneven walking surface.

The reed fencing was also attached to the back side of a storage shelf to give the children a feeling of sitting outside.  Outdoor pillows were also added to give the children the opportunity to stay awhile and explore the nest collection or look at the rings on the stumps with magnifying glasses.  Children can also pull out balancing scales to observe the different weight of natures treasures.  

We also created a natures collection wall by attaching the reed fencing to a bulletin board.  This area gives children the opportunity to collect natures things and have a place to put their important treasures that they have found.  Children can also bring things in that they found while playing at home.   

To give the finishing touches to the area we found this great carpet from Kids  We could not of found a more perfect carpet for the area.  Not only did it give the nature quality but it also provides the children with opportunities to discover different sizes of owls, recognize numbers and letters.   

Are you wanting to redesign your science area?  Here is a free download to let you do just that. Simple go to Teachers Pay Teacher or Teachers Notebook.

If you are thinking of taking the challenge of redesigning your whole room then here is a workbook to help you do just that.

Friday, January 18, 2013

I have a Dream...

Monday we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.  to remember a man that changed our country and how we think of one another.

Our hands spray painted in different colors

Class discussion about our dream for the world and others.

Our march around the school, waving our signs I have a dream.

We even took our dream march to other classroom.

 More ideas to remember

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Arctic Fun

 We stared the week out with the book Hop to the Top.

 The children then made their own penguin during small group time.

 During work time we set up two different types of arctic play one with the arctic animals and shaving cream for snow.

The second one we placed scraps of foam packaging in the water table for icebergs along with more arctic animals.

The children were given the opportunity to create their own version of arctic animals and yes the white ones are polar bears.  I love to see what they can create when just providing them with materials.

We also worked on our CVC words igloo style.  The children had the opportunity to use letter tiles or dry erasable markers to finish their words.  

Friday, January 11, 2013

Classroom Tour Part 2

Here was the plan

 The picture above is the plan for the back half of my classroom. 

Before Picture Monday January 7th

 After Picture Wednesday January 9th

 Before Picture Monday January 7th

 After Picture Wednesday January 9th

 Before Picture Monday January 7th

 After Picture Wednesday January 9th

 As I finished putting my room back together on Wednesday I saw that some of my areas need some T.L.C. So  throughout the month of January and February I will be high lighting on areas as I revamp them to a more organized state. 

See how I have updated and organized the...


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