I had a tough time with that last post. After I got all the pics uploaded and text entered, it got all wonky when I hit publish! I had to edit the stupid thing three times. Hoping this post behaves.
Continuing our tour of this year’s PreK classroom we have the puzzle center. Also known as fine motor center, manipulatives, etc., etc. The kids call it the puzzle center, because that’s where the puzzles are. It also has quite a few math games in there, but you know I can only have so many areas in the room so combination centers are good. Last year’s class had a thing for dumping every single bucket of manipulatives together mixing the pile up and then not cleaning up the mess. This year’s group (so far) seems as OCD as I am about keeping the legos in the lego box and never mixing the counting/sorting bears in with them. Love!
Next up we have the kitchen center. This seems to be the most popular center of the year so far. It’s always packed full of cooks and little mommies walking their baby dolls around in the stroller or shopping cart. Remember, my class is mostly girls! This group seems to get along really, really well though and there have been very few squabbles. I so wish I could share pics of my little friends with you (I don’t for the sake of safety and the families’ privacy), but the other day as I was snapping pics around the room I saw one little girl helping another to tie the back of the apron she was trying to get on. So sweet!
This little section really has no name. The dollhouse and all it’s accessories have great memories for me. We bought it for Marissa when she was 15 months old (just a few months before Bekah arrived.) At that time we didn’t know we’d end up with 3 daughters and that the dollhouse would see LOTS of use over the years. Here is the same dollhouse, 17 years later, in my classroom. All the kids love it, but it doesn’t really fit into any center, so it’s kind of off by itself. You might notice the bookshelves are full of empty picture frames. One of the things I most hope to achieve this year is a sense of community in our classroom. After reading Donna Whyte’s book, ” You Can’t Teach A Class You Can’t Manage” this summer, I realized this was something missing in my teaching. One of her ideas was to make sure there was a strong home-school connection, and one suggestion was to take pics of the kids with their families’ at orientation and display them around the classroom. Thanks to IKEA I was able to get a bunch of frames cheap! Actually, you could play a good game of “spot the IKEA products” in all my classroom pics 🙂
This next area caused no end of dilema for me this summer as I was mentally planning out my room. About 4 years ago I switched from using tables to using desks. I liked that the kids had a space to store their things within reach. After reading many books and articles this summer, I began to rethink the wisdom of desks in PreK. Back to the thought of building community. The problem was finding enough tables again (they are now being used in other classes throughout the building) and coming up with storage and procedures for all their school supplies. I decided to try grouping the desks together. Solved both of my problems. It seems to be going well, except for one thing that has always been a problem with the desks. Snack crumbs! I’m forever having to remind them to keep their crumbs on their napkins and make sure their desks are kept clean so the desk fairy will leave them a surprise.
The last area of the room I’ll share with you today is the block center. Last year this was the most used center (all the boys I had no doubt.) This year it’s been used minimally so far. I’m up in the air about how I’m going to handle center time. In past years I’ve always started out the year by letting them choose whatever center they’d like to play in, then after a week or so transition into assigned groups that rotate through all the centers. The goal being that all the children learn to use all the resources available in all the centers (as opposed to playing with the cars every. single. day.) By having them with a randomly assigned group (we choose names from a bag) that they stay with for one whole week, they learn to play with all the students, not just their besties. For now I’m sticking with “free choice” in centers and so far it’s going well. I think this year I’ll play it by ear and may or may not ever assign centers.
With as large a room as I have I’m pretty sure we’ve got two more istallments before you’ve seen my whole classroom!