Thursday, October 01, 2015

Come take a closer look at our classroom...

With the first month of school already done, our students are finally starting to feel like our classroom is their "home away from home".
Here's a little peek into our classroom...
Since our Dramatic Centre is so popular, we decided to leave it in the centre of our classroom, with lots of room for the children to move around and play.
It's easily accessible to all the centres in the room which provides for a rich learning experience:  we often find students bring materials they find at another centre nearby (for example, our math area) and use those in the Dramatic Centre.  We have seen students use blocks, beads, and clay as well to enhance their learning!
This centre often turns into many different things, including a hospital, grocery store, ice cream shoppe, etc.  We can easily move the furniture around to accommodate for whatever is "cooking" at this centre!
We don't have a lot of corners in our classroom with useable space, and I really wanted to set up an atelier (or art studio) in one space near a window, so we placed it here.  All of the containers hold our materials that we have collected over the years from our Beautiful Junk projects, donations, etc. 
We often hang paintings and art work from the clothespins you see hanging.
The canvas colours were made last year as part of our Colour Inquiry.
I think it's so important to preserve and display work from years past as it shows we value student work.
The tank you see sits empty for now, but there have been discussions this week amongst the students about a possible classroom pet to put inside!
Last year we had a fish...and I loved how the children drew him, fed him, and read to him all of the time!
I wonder what will be the newest addition to our classroom this year?
This is the other part of the atelier.
We have a paint easel and drying rack as well as a large shelf which holds a variety of materials students may need for creating artistic pieces, including old magazines, paint brushes, tissue paper, foam pieces, stickers, beads, buttons, etc.
Our "Wonder Window" is also nearby to provide inspiration for painting.
Here is our Science/Discovery Table.  One of the first things I left out at the beginning of this school year was a bird nest I found in my backyard, along with magnifying glasses, paper and book about nests.
I added a small shelf on the wall behind the table where we have displayed other interesting items the children have brought in, books about nature, and seashells from our inquiry last year!
Our Math Centre holds lots of open-ended materials for the beginning of the school year, including dice, Unifix cubes, coloured bears, plastic straws in various colours (for sorting, tallying, etc.), double-sided counters, and large wooden numbers.  I love to see how the children explore and experiment with the different materials before introducing more.
This Learning Carpet is a must!
I was fortunate to have it funded through My Class Needs last fall.
Last year I had a large carpet off to the side of the classroom that housed all building materials.  Since I've made the atelier larger, I had to move the building area to the gathering area at the front of our classroom.
We use two large shelves that hold different sizes and shapes of wooden blocks, as well as tin cans and tubes of various sizes.
We will continue to add pinecones, sticks, etc. as our students notice them on our nature walks.
The light table is always a favourite in the classroom as well.
I found that by making it accessible on all sides more students can create.
The large shelf holds open-ended materials for the light table, but we encourage our students to take materials and use them in various parts of the classroom as well.
There are a couple of tables that I like to set out provocations, or invitations to play.
We put out a simple provocation for the first week of school, picking up magnetic letters using tongs and matching them to the mat.
I find that there are always some students who enjoy a quiet place in the classroom to read, use our iPad, or create projects using loose parts so we placed our class library in one corner.
There is a large amount of low counter space near the smaller sink.  It makes for a perfect area to set up playdough, clay, art projects, etc.
There are 2 sensory bins in our classroom - the one on the left changes periodically and holds anything from rice and water to leaves and soil.  The larger bin on the right holds sand; however, we offer students a variety of materials to engage with while there including rocks, jewels, a Lazy Susan, sifters, etc.
I use two very large rectangular tables as our Writing Centre each year.  I find that since we model and ask that our students write on a daily basis, we find that this centre is always full of hard working children!
So many materials are made available:  a variety of paper, markers, crayons, pencil crayons, scissors, glue, dictionaries, stencils, sticky notes, etc.  All of these tools encourage students to write!
And finally our bistro area...or snack centre.
We are using three round tables this year to encourage conversations amongst friends while enjoying a snack.  Since our students have self-regulated snack, this centre is always buzzing!
You can read more about our Snack Centre here.
Our classroom is always changing.  We listen to the needs, wants, interests, and wonders of our students and invite them to help us create a space that will reflect that.
I am so excited to see how our classroom will continue to change and revolve around our students this year!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Terry Fox Walk....tomorrow!

Tomorrow is our annual Terry Fox walk at our school.
We spoke a little about Terry today and how we will be having fun tomorrow and remembering how brave Terry was to raise awareness to cancer.
To learn more about Terry Fox please view the video below.
To celebrate and honour this Canadian hero, we will be having a Civvies day tomorrow where we ask the children to wear red and white.
I have blogged about our Daily Schedule before (click here to read all about how we use it on a regular basis in our class) and since tomorrow we will be having a special morning dedicated to Terry Fox, I created a card for our schedule.
If you use my Daily Schedule cards I your classroom, you can click on the picture below to download your free copy!
To see all of the Daily Schedule cards please click the picture below.
Looking forward to our walk tomorrow!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Using the phone book at the Dramatic Play Center...FREE download!

Each year, the Dramatic Play Centre is a class favourite!
Even though school just started, I can already see how much interest there is at this centre.
Students have been "cooking" food, setting the table, creating menus and using the telephone to call people and places.
My in-laws gave me this phone a few years back - if you have a real one that you no longer use, add it to your Dramatic Centre.  The students love pretending that it is real!
We listen to the children and plan for our program based on their interests and wonders.  Over the years, our Dramatic Centre has been a grocery store, bakery, doctor's office, ice cream parlor and so much more! 
Students can make an appointment by calling the doctor, order a cake by calling the bakery, etc.
You can add this to your Dramatic Play Centre and see all of the possibilities. 
Last week I noticed that one student spent much of her time reading the phone numbers in our phone book and identifying the numbers.  What a great way to practice number identification!
I decided to update this old phone book.
Click {here} if you would like to download a copy of the phone book with numbers already included.
Click {here} for a download of a blank phone book for you to write in your own numbers.
Have fun!

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Travelling Tuesday....with Kate Kitch from World of Wonders

I am so excited to be featuring Kate Hitch from World of Wonders this week on my blog!
Kate started her blog last spring but it's already growing full of inspirational ideas. 
I was fortunate enough to actually meet Kate last spring through a course we took together!
Her classroom environment is so inviting!
I love the small wooden tent with lights strung inside.  What a wonderful way to create a safe, quiet space for her students to read, relax and reflect.
Everything is neat and tidy, this shelf is a great way to keep materials organized and inviting, so that students can choose to create using a variety of items.
I was mesmerized by the creativity her students showed and the interest they had in creating their Fairy Garden. 
Lots of hands-on, co-created experiences take place in Kate's classroom.  Here the students are experimenting with a way to dye eggs naturally by making their own dye!
This simple provocation invites students to use loose parts to explore a variety of lines.
Here is another way for students to use loose parts for open ended play.
Kate explains how she documents in a variety of is one example of an Inquiry Map.  You can see how one idea, or wonder, has evolved!
Please share an insight...
"I was initially inspired by Reggio Emilia and fell in love with the fact that it is not a prescription. Making it my own has been an enjoyable journey and true passion. I once read that Kindergarten should be a magical place for children. I have strived to make it just that ever since. "
For more inspiring ideas please visit Kate's blog!
Do you have a classroom that encompasses the same philosophies and beliefs about emergent curriculum as we do?

We would love to feature your blog/website for an upcoming Travelling Tuesday!

Please leave a comment below with a link to your site or send me an e-mail.

Thanks for travelling with us this week!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Travelling Tuesday....with Carmelina Digrigoli

We are going on an adventure today into one of the most beautiful and inspiring classrooms I discovered online earlier this school year.
Carmelina Digrigoli is a Full Day Kindergarten teacher with the York Region District School Board and author of the blog:
When I examine the pictures Carmelina posts of her students in action, learning and playing, I am in awe of the materials she has chosen, her learning environment and how much fun not only her students are having, but she is, too!
This is a picture of the Classroom Inquiry Learning Web from September to June.  I know that by showcasing and having students involved in their learning, it brings meaning to what we, as educators, are doing.  This learning web is not only a valuable tool for the parents and guests in Carmelina's classroom, but her students can reflect upon where their learning has gone and is going.  I am certainly going to take this idea of creating an ongoing learning web with my students this coming school year.
This is the main atelier workshop where art becomes the curriculum and all materials are accessible.  It's also the main space of the classroom.
Isn't it so inviting?
These students are painting under a tree!
Learning doesn't always take place inside the classroom, after all!
Here's a picture of a construction site using blocks and loose parts...not only are the students offered a variety of blocks to build and explore with, it is located near the atelier so art, drama, and tinkering with loose parts are encouraged.
Lots and lots of tinkering materials for make it and break it play.
Imagine all of the possibilities here!
This is where the "Beautiful Stuff" is housed.  Here students can search for that perfect piece for their creation!
All of the loose parts are neatly arranged so that it's not only visually appealing but also easy for students to take, use and put away once they are finished.
So many students love creating with loose parts!
Please share an insight...
"Inspiration does exist, but it must find us working."
~Pablo Picasso
"As educators, we begin to prepare our minds and bodies for back to school, we wonder what we need, what we should collect, what will we do differently this school year, and how we will setup our classrooms.  I prefer to use the term 'design' in place of setup.  To design our learning environments considers space and opportunity for growth, that it will indeed change and will transform and grow with the students' interests and learning outcomes.  Let's embrace our bare September walls and prepare for endless learning opportunities and authentic classroom transformations."
For more inspiring ideas please visit Carmelina's blog!
Do you have a classroom that encompasses the same philosophies and beliefs about emergent curriculum as we do?

We would love to feature your blog/website for an upcoming Travelling Tuesday!

Please leave a comment below with a link to your site.

Thanks for travelling with us this week!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Travelling Tuesday...with Mrs. Myers' Kindergarten!

Anamaria and I are back for another Travelling Tuesday!
This week Anamaria takes a peek into the classroom of Darla Myers...
Click on the picture above to take you Anamaria's blog and read all about it!
Do you have a classroom that encompasses the same philosophies and beliefs about emergent curriculum as we do?
We would love to feature your blog/website for an upcoming Travelling Tuesday!
Please leave a comment below with a link to your site.
Thanks for travelling with us this week!

Friday, August 14, 2015

The "Snack" Table -> How it works...

In our classroom, our students are immersed in play.
They can choose to explore and build on the carpet with a variety of blocks and materials (tubes, tin cans, pinecones, etc.), they can create sculptures using Playdough, they can paint at our Art Centre, they can write with a variety of tools and materials at the Writing Centre, and so much more!
And they can eat snack...whenever they like.
Yes, you read that right. 
As part of our self-regulated day, we encourage students to make decisions that they feel most comfortable with. 
When they are hungry, they simply take their lunch bag and sit at the snack table and eat a snack.
Most of them even invite another friend to join them!
We have 2 large, open blocks of time, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon, so our schedule lends itself well.
This year I am excited to try having 3 small round tables set up as a "Bistro" for the students to enjoy snack.  They can invite a friend and chat while eating.
(I was so lucky that my principal purchased us these round tables back in June!  It truly helps when your administration is completely on board and believes in the Full Day Kindergarten program!)
For the past few years, I used a large 6-seater table as our Snack Table.
This worked really well too!
The small basket you see in the middle holds scissors, straws and cutlery in case they need to use any of them.  I try and have my students be as independent as possible, or they can ask a friend to help.
How do I know if they ate?
We don't use a checklist or way to tell that they have had their snack.
I truly believe that when they are hungry they will eat!
I remember when my daughter was a baby, I asked the pediatrician why she wouldn't eat any snacks!  He used to tell me the same thing...when she is hungry she will let you know.
Sometimes I have students eat a couple of snacks in the morning or afternoon, depending on how hungry they are.
A few students this past year attended the Before School Program from about 7 am.
They would eat breakfast at home beforehand and by 8:30 am, when they entered my classroom, they were famished!
Snack was their first stop!
Other students eat breakfast literally as they are walking to school so they aren't as hungry first thing and prefer to eat a little later on.
Some don't like to eat snack in the morning at all!
I encourage everyone to eat when they are hungry.  We often remind students to "listen to their tummy" and eat if they choose.  But I don't force anyone.
Other classrooms I have seen do monitor who has eaten and who has not eaten snack.
Here are a few ways of doing that...
- Magnetic names -> create magnetic names for each student in your class and post (a filing cabinet works well).  Students can move their name to the bottom, or put it in a basket, once they have finished eating.
- Rocks -> write each child's name on a rock and scatter around the middle of the table.  Once a child has eaten snack, he/she can move his rock inside the basket.
- Popsicle Sticks -> write each student's name on a popsicle stick and place them in a can in the middle of the table.  After eating snack, students can find his/her name and place it into an empty can beside on in a nearby spot.
How do I monitor what they eat?
This takes a while and truly starts from home.  We encourage healthy eating at our school and try to reinforce this message with parents.
At our Open House in early September, we explain the Snack Table and give parents ideas on what kind of snacks to pack.
We also encourage parents to label each snack...
#1 is for morning snack
#2 is lunch
 #3 is afternoon snack.
During the first few weeks at school, a lot of time is spent by both educators in the classroom showing students how to choose something to eat (so that you don't have students eating their sandwich at 9 am!).
Why won't I go back to whole group snack?
Well, if you have tried having a Snack Table in your room you will know that it frees up at least half an hour that you can work with your students.  When you have to stop and have all the students clean up, wash their hands, sit down and eat, it can take a LONG time!  By having a few eat whenever they want to, you can spend more time interacting with the others at play.
If you are still a little unsure as to trying a Snack Table in your classroom, here's what I say.
Try it for a week.
It might work out beautifully, it might take time to get used to (for both you and your students!), it might not work if your schedule is not as flexible and you don't have large, open blocks of time.
Bon Appetite!