Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Christmas Room Flip

Turning your classroom into a new and exciting place, can enrich your classrooms engagement. I love “flipping” my classroom for so many reasons. The main reason, is because you and your students are transported someplace new. Someplace outside of the typical classroom. It sparks engagement, and sprinkles fun in your room. During Christmas time I wanted to transport our classroom into something all my littles would instantly know. Someplace that is truly magical. We loaded our stuff and went to the North Pole, straight into Santa’s Workshop! I work with Oriental Trading, and they provided me with these fun decorations to flip my classroom!

What You Need:

We stated out with covering our walls with Design-A-Room Santa’s Workshop Backdrop to set the stage. All though with just the backdrop you can’t tell exactly where you are, you can see the festive “wall hangings” of red and green, and you can tell you are someplace during the Christmas Season. Then we added the Santa’s Workshop Cardboard Stand-Up and North Pole Directional Sign Cardboard Stand-Up. These two items, really give it away that we have been transported to the North Pole.

I moved a table into our dramatic play area, which is where we have done the majority of our “room flip”. I added the Christmas Fringe Table Skirt, and accessorized with the Classic Christmas Stocking. Later, in the week, I let each kiddo decorate their own stocking to make it their own. Then during our Christmas Party, their stocking acts as the bag for all their Christmas goodies!

When this is moved to the Dramatic Play area, is when the flip got exciting! I gave the kids Wrapped Present Tote Bags,  Classic Christmas Stockings, and Treasure Chest with Toy Assortment. I also gave them boxes and wrapping paper. I let the students wrap their own presents. They had so much fun, not only were they working on beginning special skills, but they worked on fine motor skills, and most importantly social skills.

We had a blast being transported to Santa’s Workshop! The students can’t wait to see where we are taken to next!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Centers in a Pre-K Classroom

When I moved to Pre-K, I completely changed how I ran my classroom. I went to a more center based, student led system, as opposed to a teacher led classroom. The biggest thing I had to adjust to, was I let the STUDENTS CHOOSE what center they go to, I let STUDENTS CHOOSE when they change centers. And do you know what? It was NOT mad chaos like I expected! Once we set expectations and taught them the appropriate social skills to communicate, it was so easy! This post does contain links, both affiliate and regular. Use them to find some great centers for your classroom, and help keep this blog running J

Center Management

Each of my centers has a card on it with two Velcro dots, and each of my children has a name tag, with a Velcro dot on the back.  When my kids aren’t at centers, on the wall is a list of all our names and another Velcro dot. So, if we transition to centers after a whole group lesson, it is easy to call names and they go get their names and pick a center. If we are working in small groups, half of my kids can go grab their names. Another way I managed changing centers, was using clothes pins. If there were two dots open, that meant there is room for two kids. If both dots are full, the kiddos must wait until someone leaves.

At first there were lots of tears and begging to get into a specific center (usually it was Magnatiles!) But all we had to do what teach them Social Skills. Being patient is a big skill we must learn. I also, don’t make friends leave a center because they have been there too long. Once we get past the bumps that come along with any center time, it is smooth sailing.

Center Options

So, a big question I get asked frequently is “What center options do you have in your classroom?” So, a quick reminder, I teach Pre-K, so my centers are free play centers.

The first set of centers, that are a must have in our room, are building centers. Our number one pick, that is always full is our block center. They love seeing how tall of a wall they can build! They also love using these houses and cars from Lakeshore Learning. When they are by my desk I can hear them making sirens and pretending to be Officer Hofficer! (In which he is usually arresting someone for some silly crime, like not picking up their mess!)

Another one of their favorite building centers is Legos. They LOVE to make things with Legos. I am adding little Legos this year to our centers. I really want them working those fine motor skills. I just love this table I made! I asked on my Facebook if anyone had an old two leveled side table, and a wonderful friend just happened to be getting rid of TWO! So, she gave them to me, I painted them, and added a Lego brick plate. This gives them a place to be stationed. A place for our Legos to live, so they aren’t spread all out across the classroom!

Right now, our Magnetic Center is looking a little weak. Since it is the beginning of the year, they are exploring our center. We have magnetic letters, name with their picture, and those cute magnetic numbers and shapes that I found at the Target Dollar Spot! Eventually I put STEM activities in the magnetic center! They love playing with gears and funnels!

Another one of the centers that is always full, is my train table! This table is the best thing since sliced bread let me tell you! Again, it gives the center a place to live. The train tracks are not running all around the room. However; it does give it a better ramp for them to go flying across the room (no matter how many times I tell the kiddos that trains stay on tracks and airplanes fly through the air!) I bought the train tracks and trains from Ikea, and they are super durable!
                  I inherited this big sturdy storage system (again, from Ikea!) I use as our main center storage system. I bought these great containers from Sterilite, you can get a 6 pack for about $31 from Amazon, and they fit perfect in them. In these center tubs, they put their name on the center cards, pull the tubs out, and find a place in the room to work. In these tubs I have Pattern Blocks, Lite Brites, Bristle Blocks, Unifix Cubes, Mr. Potato Head, and Mega Blocks. Also in this station, I have all my puzzles. The puzzle center card is on the side of the storage system. You can read about what I use to store my puzzles HERE. I also got tired of searching for the “lost pieces”. As a result, I bought ANOTHER Sterilite container with a snap lid, added some vinyl, and the kids now know if they find an extra piece to put in the lost pieces container. Also, if they are missing a piece, they know exactly where to look.

                One of my favorite centers in my classroom, is our library. I store my books thematically. I put only a few books out at a time. They also have a tub of puppets to act out what they are “reading”. You can read HERE all about my classroom library.

                       Another popular center is the Art Center. Yes. There is paint. We are going to try something new this year! But our art center typically has construction paper, crayons, stickers, markers, daubers, and pencils. We also added composition books to our Art Center this year. They will be labeled with a name, so each child has an art portfolio to take home at the end of the year.
                We are testing out a type of light table this year. I found an old overhead projector in our surplus pile. I took off the arm, and will be placing some contact paper over the screen to dim the light just a little bit. Now we have a light table, that didn’t cost me an arm and a leg. This is also one of my found treasures. The same table as my Lego center. Underneath the second level, is a basket of light table goodies. They will change as the year progresses. Right now, they have stacking cups, refreezeable ice cubs, and our Magnatiles.

             And last but certainly not least, is our dramatic play center. Right now, it is set up as a kitchen. We have baby dolls, baby beds, vests, community helper hats, pots and pans, food, plates, silver wear, and most important of all, the actual kitchen. This is right next to our sensory table. As the year progresses it will turn into an auto shop, grocery store, doctors office, and flower shop!

              I hope you found something that can help you with your classroom and centers! Make sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram, where I share ideas all the time!

           You can make the center cards yourself, but to save you the time and energy, I have these listen at TpT. They are editable too! So you can call the centers whatever you want.

Friday, July 21, 2017

15 Activities To Do With Kids Before Summer Is Over


       15 Activities To Do With Kids Before Summer Is Over

As we head into the end of July we start to see an end to the summer. Making the most
out of those last few weeks before school starts can be a time for memory making.Therefore
making a bucket list to make the most of it is important.

Summer Olympics

What child doesn’t enjoy a little fun competition with their friends and family? Set up your yard for fun filled activities and if you can dream it up they will want to try it. Things you will need are a clean trash can filled with water, a bucket, towels, masking tape, ribbon, printed pics of medals and steps to utilize for the award ceremony. Make 1st, 2nd and 3rd medals by making a hole at the top of the medals and run ribbon through them. Many of the competition that can be set up ahead of time. Here are a few examples, a running broad jump (place tape at the point of take off and then a piece of tape at the place that your competitors land). Do the same for a standing broad jump. Hurdles can easily be designed by picnic table benches, a disc throw with bean bags, hula hoop competition based on time. By now you are understanding the fun. A twist to our backyard competition is to have either the 1st place person or the people down farther than 1st place get to go to the trash can filled with water and pour a bucket of water over their head. After your day of fun or days if you choose to participate more than one day, have your ribbon ceremony on the steps for each activity.

Local Market Veggie and Fruit Tasting

The end of  summer brings the end of all that seasonal produce. So why not do a tasting! Each child going to the market has some kind of bag to take along. The idea is for each child to choose 3 items they know they like and 2 they have never tasted. Instead of going home, find a shady tree and allow each child to show what they found. I always take along a small knife and a cutting board. Please make sure the Items are washed before cutting/ market people are very accommodating. Cut up the Items that do not need to be cooked and do a taste test. The other items can be cooked at home to continue the taste testing. Hint: You might want to supply water when at market.


Find the closest zoo and invite friends to meet you at the zoo. A fun idea is to send out invitations depending on the age. Upon arrival, break up into small groups to travel through the zoo to see each animal. When visiting each animal take pictures with the animal in the background. After fun at the zoo, return to the house and have some laughs over the pics. Pick the best 10 pictures and make a caption for each one with the intentions of submitting it to the zoo on Tripadvisor. You can help fellow zoo goers and who knows, you could become famous!

Beach Baby

A final trip to the beach for the summer is always exciting. If you live near the beach consider a final trip which provides entertainment itself. If that is not a possibility bring the beach to your house. Some sand in a small pool allows for the sand castles and a small pool with water provides a good rinse or cool off. I always set the stage with a beach umbrella, pool noodles, pails and shovels, a cooler packed with an easy lunch, drinks - capri suns frozen are magic -   add music, beach chairs, towels and a fun snack food. All ages like to be pampered and you can build in things that you might do at the beach. Consider a pedicure outside or a game of miniature golf later in the day.

Rainy Day Outside

A rainy day can seem kind of dreary during the summer but make the most of it! Take your day outside in the rain! First gather rain boots, umbrellas, old clothes to wear, a container to catch rainwater ( put the container outside as you leave) and your imagination. Go for a walk to your local park making sure you step in puddles on the way there for a big splash. Once at the park you child can Swing, run and play as usual. While you were out in rain the container at home  was filling up for your final fun of the day. When you return home gather cups, spoons, plastic pitchers and do water play. I like to add food coloring to the water for a final step.

Day at a National Park

On any given day you can easily google to see what National Parks are available near you. It is the end of summer, try to choose one that you have not been to before! Things to look for, do they have hiking trails, bike trails, canoes or kayaks to rent, swimming, picnic tables, charcoal grills, a concession stand, is there a fee for activities and to get in the park, what are the hours. Plan what activities you are going to participate in and pack accordingly. A cooler full of fun surprises  always adds some excitement! I buy special drink glasses from the dollar store and provide stickers to decorate while waiting for the meal.                                                                   

Slug Day

This is a favorite day for a hot summer day with some fun options involved. First pick a day of the week that you all can be lazy and relaxed at home. We usually choose a Sunday or a Monday afternoon. If you have a free standing hammock bring it inside to one of your rooms, gather all your big comfy pillows, bring in any chaise lounges you have, the idea is to get comfy with all that is available. A fun item to add is long sticks with packing tape on the end to use
as a reacher, in case you drop something We buy a few current magazines, put out books, have favorite movie ready, a simple make ahead meal ready in the fridge and premade snack bags. The idea is to relax and move about as little as possible.

Yard Games

This is a day that all the old fashion games are set up in the yard. Badminton, croquet, bocce ball, lawn darts, baseball, dodge ball, flag football, volleyball, corn hole, tug of war, horse shoes and frisbee golf. If you don’t know how to play any of these google them for the rules. These are fun lasting memories for all of you. Don’t hesitate to invite friends over for bigger teams.

Restaurant Crawl

This has NOTHING to do with alcoholic drinks! That being said, Google local restaurants to see when their best specials are during the week. It is more fun to try new restaurants but you risk not liking the food. The whole idea is to be moving along having meals and doing some local shopping or sightseeing. Start with a late, light breakfast, maybe ala carte and then spend a little time shopping. Next is the pick for lunch, we usually do one special and then some appetizers. Most places will allow you to have a leisurely lunch and we just relax and enjoy. A little local sightseeing at a local museum or someplace that provides a tour is fun even if you have been their before. An afternoon with some ice cream or a sweet seems to go a long way followed by a walk or a hike. We try and hit our dinner time spot around 5 for an early bird special. This is a relaxing fun day with a little variety.                                                                    

Seafood Bonanza

Depending on where you live the access for seafood varies. It is always possible to order ahead of time online and have it delivered if your local grocer doesn’t carry what you like.We usually order two types of our favorite, crabs and lobster. Make the meal so it involves each family member along the way. You can purchase butcher block paper and utilize your outdoor table for easier clean up. The lobster bibs make for great pictures and can be purchased from local seafood place (Red Lobster is accommodating).The use of small hammers and picking tools goes along way to making it more fun.

Friendly Reunion

Summer usually involves family reunions but as the hot and hazy days of summer start to run    out, my children have the chance to reunite with friends. We send out invites for an afternoon cookout and bring your favorite side dish or dessert. Make sure you take lots of pics for fun memories and plan a craft project if you have a younger crowd. A fun idea is to have a fruit smoothie bar set up with cut fruit and ice.

Night Time Fun

Getting back to basics is always a priority before our summer ends. Spending an evening outside is always fun and starting with watching the sunset is a good start. Then let the fun begin with a game of flashlight tag followed by catching lighting bugs in clear jars. Move on to start relaxing for the night with a Netflix movie outside and a popcorn bar. When ready for bed you may choose to sleep out in a tent or do a living room family sleep over party.

Sleeeeeeep Overs

Having friends sleep over is a fun passage of time that can bring late nights and sleepy mornings. Please allow each child to plan their own with 2-4 friends having them spaced apart because your family might be tired after just one! The nights can be basic with pics, movies, fun snacks, sleeping bags and a big open room! Depending on your age group,a make up tutorial and pedis are optional. A morning breakfast of juices and donuts or a cereal bar make happy ending.

Summer Clothes Swap

Yes, as summer moves on some of our children are looking at styles for back to school. If you remember, those first few weeks are usually quite warm. So exchanging each others clothes can be a fun way of shopping for a new outfit. Arrange a day at your home for a clothing swap, have a room designated  for clothing display and a room for trying on clothes ( a full length mirror is fun). Use an index card to show the exchange for future reference and the return of items to  their owner. After a light snack of watermelon popsicles, ( yes, watermelon slices frozen on a popsicle stick) turn on the music and have fashion show.

Freaky Friday

This fits all age groups and can be fun to do all together with adults in on the fun. Pick a theme to get dressed to or just dress in crazy mismatched outfits.The more friends you invite the more laughs you will have. I invite the parents as well because who doesn’t like a break on Fridays! Then have an ice cream sundae bar and vote on the 3 best outfits of the day.           


Sunday, April 30, 2017

PreK Graduation

How in the WORLD has this year gotten to May already?! Between moving to PreK and working with Oriental Trading, this year has flown by. In ten days, my littles will be graduating.

"Oh, The Places You'll Go" themed PreK Graduation

We are doing it in the theme of “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” I am so excited, but at the same time, I am going to cry like a baby!

I posted over at Oriental HERE what our ceremony will look like, and what we will be doing.

PreK Graduation Freebies

To help with PreK graduation, I posted a Freebie over at TpT. It has a classbook, a page to display as your families come into graduation, and diplomas!

PreK Graduation FreebiesPreK Graduation Freebies

Hope this helps you out!