Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Leave room in your garden for the fairies to dance!

Fairy gardens, gnome homes, and dollhouse miniatures...I love them all! I've always wanted a fairy garden of my very own. I'd seen them in magazines and on Pinterest. We had our front garden redone, it was spring, I was teaching about gardening at school, and I was suddenly in a flowery mood! I passed by a display of fairy garden miniatures at Big Lots and knew I just had to have them! Tea sets, picket fences, windmills..miniatures galore! It was hard to choose but I settled on a garden gate, wishing well, picnic table, and bakery house.  The big barrel looking pot is actually plastic and is from Big Lots as well. 

Here's lovable Lucy lending a helpful hand (or paw)! I used a few potted plants I received as teacher gifts, Easter tulips that were given to me, and a rosemary plant. I just love rosemary and use it in my chicken and potato recipes! I took photos throughout the process and shared about my weekend gardening project with my pre-k friends. I also brought in my gardening tools to show. A few of my students had fairy gardens of their very own and we shared photos on the Smartboard. 

This is a pretty pink brightens up the scene!

Here is one of the miniatures I chose..a wishing well! My Nana had a wishing well near her pond and this reminds me of it. I also placed a few variations of moss on top of the dirt.

If I were a fairy or gnome, 
I'd want to live here, wouldn't you?

I love seeing my little whimsical garden through my back porch patio window!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Contest time!

In celebration of Pre-K Tweets' 300 Facebook and TPT followers, I am giving away $30 in TPT products from my store! Head on over to Pre-K Tweets' Facebook Page and find out the details! Winner will be announced Saturday, July 30th, 2016 on FB! 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Pre-K (and kinder!) room arrangements!

I remember being a new teacher and waiting so anxiously to get into my new room! I tried to imagine what it would look like...the center areas, the little tables and chairs, the storage space, etc. How would I arrange my new room? What centers would I have? Would I have enough shelves and tables? Those were just a few of the hundreds of thoughts I had before I started school. I drew my layout on notebook paper late at night when I had new teacher jitters and on napkins as I waited for my food in restaurants. 

The day had come, and after I saw my classroom, I had to reconfigure my arrangement based on the space, furniture, and other obstacles. I knew I had to have space to put down cots for nap time, I needed a small group table/teacher aide work space, I needed the tables to do double duty for activities and lunch time, I had to work around the built in carpet, cubbies, teacher desk....the list went on and on! My advice is to make a list of necessities and plan those areas first. Sometimes you will have to work around not having enough storage or tables, funky pieces of furniture that have to stay in your room, outlets in goofy places, etc. You will have to get creative! Also, It's perfectly fine to redo your arrangement during the year and switch it up! I've always changed my arrangement at least once a year and I always want something different as a new school year begins.  The classroom should be a happy & comforting place for students and teachers as well!

During college courses and internships I learned about early childhood room arrangements. The shelves should be low, all materials on open shelves are for the students, everything labeled, plenty of walk space, etc. I took notes as I toured classrooms and poured over those cute teacher blogs! : ) But only from my own teaching experience, I truly learned the importance of classroom space & design.

Here are a few of my favorite classroom floor plan arrangements that I've had over the years. We might not have the same furniture or same amount of furniture but I hope it gives you at least a few ideas to work with! Happy planning! 

I liked this arrangement because there was plenty of room between the centers and tables. I bought the cube shelves from Target. They made a great room divider, held storage, and you could see through them so it made the classroom a light & airy feeling! The large group time carpet was built into the floor so it couldn't be moved. I double duty used it for our whole group lessons & for block play. The art center and easel were conveniently located to the sink for easy clean up. The light table was next to an outlet and book shelves were used as center dividers. I also used some of the backs of bookshelves for felt boards and to display vocabulary. The cabinet next to the door was used as a parent sign-in station and the rug there was used as our safe spot.

I liked this arrangement because placing the library center at the entrance of the classroom provided for a homey/living room look as students entered. The safe spot was located closer to the teacher work area tucked into a corner and the pretend center had plenty of space. I also liked having a defined blocks center. Students could leave out special constructions during transition time and return to them later. 

In this floor plan the safe spot was moved near the cubbies and the light table was moved to the back wall. I traded in a table in the discovery area to allow students to have more workspace. Also, the library area was moved to the middle and made the classroom feel much larger. There was also a book shelf/cabinet placed behind the group time carpet.  The cabinet held puzzles and morning tub manipulatives. 

Here of a few photos of some of my past classroom arrangement ideas! They are a mix of photos and from different years. Enjoy! 

Parent sign-in station...the back of this cabinet (which actually used to be the pretend center fridge) stored crayon buckets!

Pretend center in the corner...

Here's another pretend center area where I had it in front of the window...

Discovery/science center close to the classroom entrance... Chairs were bought at Ikea and they have remained in great shape! Baskets were bought at garage sales and

Discovery/science center 

Here's another discovery area idea in the corner with bookshelf and table...

ABC center with use of table, magazine rack, and bookshelf. The shelf on top of the table is an over the sink shelf. I bought it at a garage sale and sometimes use it for storage under the Smartboard! I love items that do double duty!

Portable light table on top of Ikea table with magnet board behind.

Safe spot and crayon tub storage...parent sign-in station with folder drop off bucket...

Built in group time area... (labeled apple baskets awaiting school supplies on Meet the Teacher Night! Get your labels HERE!)

Built in cubbies and rectangle table used for breakfast...

Rolling blocks station that could be moved to the big carpet for play. 

Another year, I made a bigger blocks area. I turned over the dress up closet/mirror and utilized it for block play/storage. The rug is from Ikea and I love the mellow colors!

Math center table and bookshelf/cabinet...

Library area when it was in front of the window. I created extra storage from zip tying Michael's wooden crates together to make a bookcase. I covered an existing felt board with burlap to tie in the neutral colors. The chairs were half price (yay!) from Garden Ridge/At Home store...the rug was bought there too. 

In this arrangement the library center is near the classroom entrance. It's defined by a rolling book cart and writing station cart. The writing station cart actually used to be the blocks cart, lol. Like I said..I have done a lot of re-planning and rearranging in my teaching career. It's fun when you find new uses for things and they work! I took the wheels off my listening center cart, flipped it over, and put a plastic bin inside...instant sensory station!

ABC station: writing center/abc games... this is when I had a whole lot of hot pink leftover from my previous classrooms...

I slowly turned over to neutrals and natural made the classroom feel much more calm, clean, and relaxed...

Math center with storage for manipulatives and a table to play the games. I used the back of a cabinet for a math pocket chart game and vocabulary. 

And last but not least...the art center built by Target cube shelves.  I've hope you've enjoyed my little room arrangements tour and I hope you've found some useful ideas for your new or existing classroom!  If you have any questions leave them in the comment section below. Happy planning & happy teaching! ~ Christian