Friday, August 8, 2014

Nautical Theme Idea Hunt

Well friends, I have decided to abandon the animal theme classroom and go with my love of the water (there is no place I rather be than on a boat or at the beach), by creating a nautical theme classroom this year and many years to come. Since much of my classroom furniture and my classroom rug are primary colors, I thought what better way to incorporate these colors by pulling it all together with nautical decorations, props, and details. Here are some ideas I have found on Pintrest :) 

Resources I Have Created For My Classroom

Monday, July 28, 2014

Hobby Lobby Love

Just a quick post about my wonderful finds at Hobby Lobby today... if you have never been it's a must! This place really has everything you could think of to decorate a home or classroom! I went to buy wedding invitations but of course I had to go up and down EVERY single isle! I couldn't resist the frog garland for only $1.50 (90% off of $14.99)! SCORE! I imagine that I will do something adorable with it on one of my bulletin boards. I love the printed animal pictures for my classroom, which I will be debating about until my next visit! Aren't the scrabble pieces too cute?!... just had to take a pic! I also took pictures of all the animal print lanterns, to remind myself to go back! I am debating if I want to do a bright color animal theme or the realistic color animal theme (browns, blacks, tans, etc) What do you think?! 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Animal Theme Idea Hunt

I've always loved wild animals and just animals in general! Since I began teaching 8 years ago, I've had classroom touches with animal prints and jungle inspired accents. I have a bench with two pillows, one brown zebra print and the other banana leaves. My "sight-word tree" was a palm tree. Closet name tags were animal faces. I used bright colored animal print scrap book paper behind many labels in my classroom. I had a stuffed-animal giraffe on my desk and a frog basket on a book shelf. ALTHOUGH, if you walked into my classroom in the past, you might not even notice my intentions of making it animal themed. Soooo, with that being said, I want to make this year different- a new school, a new group of students, a new journey, a new animal themed educational space! Today, I began the typical idea hunt through Pintrest and here are some amazing ideas that are going to help me get started.... 

INSPIRING right?! I'm growing stripes just thinking about it ;)

Since I use the six traits of character education in my class, I thought I'd start by creating an "animal theme set" of posters, bunting banners, and character coupons/awards... more animal theme accents and accessories to come!
(click the poster to go to my TPT store)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dramatic Play Hats, Headbands, & Helmets

Using dress-up props in dramatic play centers, during imaginary play, and when covering a community helper unit, is not only fun but offers opportunities for students to develop language skills, self-regulation skills, and social skills. Unfortunately, sometimes hats are a problem in the classroom because they can be somewhat expensive and they can harbor lice. I created this product so that early childhood teachers and I would have an inexpensive and more sanitary way to have hats in the classroom!

Types of Hats/Headbands/Helmets:

Chef’s Hat
Police Officer’s Hat (3 varieties)
Winter Hat
Fisher’s Hat
Woman’s Hat (2 varieties)
Mail Carrier’s Hat
Doctor’s Head Mirror Headband
Nurse’s Hat
Construction Worker’s Helmet
Astronaut’s Helmet (2 varieties)
Pirate’s Hat
Firefighter’s Helmet (4 varieties)
Cowboy/Cowgirl’s Hat
Detective Hat
Fedora Hat
Baseball Cap
Party Hat
Top Hat (2 varieties)
+headband extensions

Can't wait for the photo ops of my new little ones wearing these this school year!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Five for Friday! I'm back!

Well, I haven't linked up with Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday in over 2 months... ohh my word!

I've been missing in action, but am so excited to share why... I was hired as the new integrated preschool (3 year olds) teacher at a local public school!! It had always been a dream of mine to work in a public school and I am very excited for this new journey! So here goes my "back at last" Five for Friday... 

I couldn't sleep this morning, so what did I do?! I joined the Instagram world! I've had so much fun following my favorite teacher bloggers on my personal account, but I have decided to join the excitement and create one for my blog! @iisforinspire
I am so excited to start a new journey in a new district, new school, and new classroom! My classroom is currently empty and after the walls are painted and the floors are waxed, I get to move in! Oh the possibilities...

Have you ever been to Uniqlo Thrift Store?  I love stopping here to look for fun stuff for my class! If you are looking for play food, dolls, trucks, games, puzzles, and "reading buddy" stuffed animals, put it on your to-do list! Sometimes you can find wonderful furniture pieces for your classroom too! Of course I recommend soaking/wiping down everything you bought, but you can really find amazing things if you have the patience to look! I got all of this for $1.99! 
I started tutoring a former student and when we got to the library for our first session this week, the library was closed until 1pm. The mother of the student and I didn't expect the late start hours during the summer, so instead of canceling, I just tutored her at the local park right behind the library! It was such a nice and peaceful spot {birds chirping and all} and I will now give her the option, when the weather permits.  
Several weeks ago I tried coffee concentrate! Have you ever heard of it?! Tried it?! Ohh my word... I love iced coffee! I was babysitting for a family and stumbled upon coffee concentrate from Trader Joe's. I tried it and fell in love! Since Trade Joe's is about 45 minutes from where I live, I decided to try the local The Fresh Market and they had it! I do prefer the Trader Joe's brand over The Fresh Market brand, but it works for me! Just add water, milk and/or creamer and wahla! It has saved me money and trips to the local coffee shop :) 

Well, I'm glad to be back! Join me and many other fabulous bloggers by linking up with Doodle Bugs!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fun with Family Themed Centers

As I continue to review the first manual of the Tools of the Mind Preschool Curriculum, I feel excited and determined to create tools, while I have the time off, that will enhance the already wonderful curriculum!

If you use pretend play in your classroom to develop language, social, self-regulation, and emotional skills, here is everything you need to set up family/home themed dramatic play center(s). 
This Pack Includes (in both color & gray scale):
  •  Vocabulary Word Wall Cards & Headings 
  • Action Card Prompts (aka Task Cards) 
  • Role Card Prompts 
  • Signs for Each Room in a House
  • “Baby Care List” Daily Report 
  • “To Do List"
  • “To Clean List”
  • “Shopping List”
  • Family Bunting Banner
  • Home Bunting Banner

Turn your traditional centers into theme specific fun! i.e:
dramatic play= kitchen/bedroom/nursery

blocks center= garage/ yard
sensory table center= bathroom
literacy center= office

As I continue to read, implement, and learn more about Tools of the Mind, I will be updated this pack!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Playing = Learning (Tools of the Mind)

I know I have been missing in action from the blogging world for over a month, but with good reasoning :) I recently accepted a position as an integrated teacher in a local public school and have been packing up my former classroom, attending meetings, reading through the first Tools of the Mind Preschool Curriculum manual, researching classroom pretend play ideas, and of course continuing to wedding plan. So now that things have settled down, I wanted to blog about the preschool curriculum I will be using come September. Being a pre-k teacher for the past 8 years, I know the importance of of play. Children playing = learning. 

Tools of the Mind focuses on developing self-regulation skills, mature make-believe play, exploring social relationships and practicing social problem solving all while being deeply engaged and having fun!  Some of the activities throughout the block schedule are: free time, opening group, make-believe play centers (w/ play planning), make-believe play practice,  large literacy activities (buddy reading & graphics practice), outside play, small group literacy activities (attention focusing activity & story lab), small group math/science activities (attention focusing activity, remember & replicate, puzzles & manipulatives & story lab), and closing group (attention focusing activity, community building activities, movement games, and story lab).

The make-believe play center block is the centerpiece of the Tools of the Mind Preschool Program. It is a 45-60 minute block when children engage in intentional make-believe play. Before playing, the children make a play plan by representing their plan by writing and/or drawing. The teacher scaffolds both the play planning process and play development, to support children's deep engagement in make-believe play. I love that this block is structured in this way, because I have learned that when children play in centers without planning they tend to have a short attention span and want to play with numerous props, multiple roles, and likely change their center, all of which can cause behavioral disruptions.  For the past 8 years, the structure of my pre-k centers was like many other early childhood classrooms I know, the children pick a center and had to stay in that center for the block. Although there were a variety of play props, the children didn't make a verbal or written plan of what they were going to do before they went into the chosen center. Of course, some of the children knew what they wanted to do, such as making a zoo for the toy animals out of blocks or playing "family". This structure didn't allow for children to develop mature play, in the way that Tools of the Mind ensures.

After finishing the first Tools manual, I have been researching make-believe play center ideas. Tools uses six centers: Literacy, Housekeeping/Dramatic Play, Science/Scensory, Blocks, Art/Fine Motor, Math/Manipulatives/Table Toys. These centers will be given theme-specific names throughout the year (i.e. hospital, grocery store, restaurant, vet, flower shop, space center). In the beginning of the year the theme will be "family" and therefore the students and I will likely transform the centers into a living room, kitchen, garage, bathroom, and bedroom.

Here are some great ideas from my hunt (Thank you Pintrest & all the wonderful bloggers who posted these pictures!): 

Do you teach early childhood and use dramatic play/imaginary play in your class? I'd love ideas and advice for the beginning of the school year! If you use Tools of the Mind or a similar curriculum in your class and you have a blog, let me know! I'd love to follow you and share ideas throughout the year!