Being a seasoned teacher gives many of us an advantage over first year teachers in knowing what really works in a kinder classsroom. We have had many, many trial/errors over the years. We have found what makes our daily routines go well, and what doesn’t. In this post I want to share 5 Must Have features of the k classroom. These are things that are simple, and in most cases at no cost to you unless you want more frills…in which case you know where the local Dollar Tree or Target Dollar Spot is :).
Must Have #1:
One of the simplest ways to keep up with who has/has not had a turn during class discussions throughout the day is a cup with names on sticks. You can be as fancy or as plain as you want in what you use, but this simple procedure has solved countless arguments from students who want to monitor who has had a turn (you know who they are…”Tommy already had a turn”…”No I didn’t”…”Yes you did!”). When you use a Turn Bucket or whatever you choose to call it, you are in charge. You know who didn’t have a turn yet because the names are still waiting in the bucket. I use a bucket from Hobby Lobby that is kept at the back of my big book stand for group lessons. Why at the back? This keeps eyes on you or the resource you need them to focus on instead of whose name is stuill in the bucket. Kinder kids will watch the bucket if it is visible! Here are some great ideas for taking turns:
- Craft sticks with magic marker names.
- Brag Tag Cards on a chain for the Teacher to wear. Just flip to the next card, or put a place holder between the card of the previous student and who is next.
- Small full body image of the student on a card that fits the bucket.
- Themed craft stick with student name on an animal or other object. Here is a pinterest board dedicated to craft stick names and other center ideas: http://bit.ly/2stGUss
From the pinterest board:
If you want to go “fancy” here is an editable stick topper set from me! Taking Turns Craft Stick Toppers
Must Have #2:
Every classroom needs a method of assigned seating for floor time! I have tried sit-where-you-choose every year, but at some point, students get familiar with each other and there is constant chatter. By this time I have a good idea of who are such besties they are losing focus during lessons. I like to make a seating chart using #Sit Spots.
You determine the arrangement, but I find it easy to mix the colors in the rows of spots. That way little Jon can go to green on row 1, Susie can go to red on row 3 etc. I use the seating arrangement to call rows for lots of things throughout the day too! Rows 1 and 2 can help with a kinesthetic math activity, etc. I have a good friend who uses Sit Spots for graphing too (http://mrspriceskindergators.blogspot.com). Be sure to read her blog!
I recommend four or five colors of spots, or just get the assortment pack. They hold up extremely well when you wash them at the end of the year, and there are very few frayed edges to trim up. Watch their site for special discounts through the summer. Also, bloggers have contests to give them away from time to time. After trying many types of seating spot markers, Sit Spots are the best! Here is an organization FREEBIE to help you keep track of who sits where, because we all kids will try to remix seating themselves, lol. I like to keep this on a clipboard for making changes on the spot–and they WILL happen. If you want to keep this information on your desktop, it opens in ppt and is editable!
For your own color or shape choice Sit Spots, here is a blank version.
Must Have #3:
A great group behavior management plan! There are some wonderful ideas on several blogs. This is the one I use, and it gives the kids a chance to work as a team. On the back of a painted baking sheet, I have 2 ten frames and an assortment of magnets.
Each time students earn a point for listening as a cooperative group, I add a magnet to their ten frame. Each time they forget the group participation rules, I add a magnet to my ten frame. This not only reinforces counting concepts, it also gives them a way to compete for points with the teacher board. When they have filled their board, they are rewarded with a dance break, extra recess minutes, or whatever no-cost-to-you incentive you want to use. If the teacher board gets full first, you give yourself an incentive and start all over. It doesn’t take long for students to decide they want to win this great participation challenge. I have also incorporated a number line and a race car into my board. Love this system for whole group! If you want to grab my board graphics, I have included them here as another FREEBIE!
Must Have #4:
For several years I have used a crayon sorter of some type for group work. This year is no exeption. Even though we are moving to 100% flexible seating, I will still have students grouped for art supplies/math manipulatives during our math time, writing group time, or other whole group activity. Group organizers make it much faster to find the correct color and make the best use of our time. Here is a post I did a few years ago about the homemade organizers made with metal fruit cups, boards and paints. It was also a fun family project! http://maggieskinder.com/2013/02/my-favorite-pinterest-creation-this.html
There are several other organizer ideas here.
Must Have #5:
Paperwork is unavoidable…even when you are a mostly paperless classroom. There are always documents the school wants sent home, or possibly math and reading workbook pages. The quickest transfer from collection to sending home is this great organizer from Amazon. I have two of them: One is for everyone’s name work, and the other is for their daily folders. All work that I have seen goes in front of their daily folders in this pocket organizer. Students or my A+ aid are responsible for putting the work into the daily folders.
I can see at a glance who remembered to bring their daily folder, and I can see if I have loaded all slots with work I have seen for the day. Love this setup!
As an additional tip, I ordered enough for two class sets of these cute Eric Carle folders last year. They are coated with a write on/wipe-off coating, but I made name labels for identifying folders on the outside. I wrote names in permanent marker on the inside.