Hello, Mary Ann!
I don’t really plan themes/units – our learning is kind of organic. I am a strong believer in having activities out for a couple of days so that the children can have enough experience with them. “This will be out again tomorrow” are comforting words for a preschooler to hear who hasn’t had enough time with an activity or didn’t get to it today.
I’ll list most of the topics that we usually get around to each year. I like finding the connections between parts of our world, so you can probably see how one topic will organically change into another – or even others.
My YouTube Playlist of videos <- click that
Space YouTube Playlist
Earth/Taking Care of the Earth/ Recycling
Recycling/Earth These videos have a personal meaning for me, so I explain them before we view them.
Also, if you go to our Facebook page and look through the photos, you’ll see other work that we’ve done. I hope this is helpful. Please feel free to e-mail me if you have other questions!
Ahhhhh….Classroom music. No matter who you are – please sing! Children need music in their lives!
Start with the basics. I have a list of song titles posted by my rocking chair that has around 20-30 song titles. When I’m stuck for the next song to choose, this jogs my memory.
I accompany my group with a tenor guitar (another post for another time), but you can sing without accompaniment! A little hint: sing in the children’s range, which is from middle C to an octave above. (Male teachers, you don’t have to actually sing in that range, but pick a key where the children are singing there.)
If you have an iPad, I just found an app that is pretty great – the autoharp! (Here it is shown on an iPod.)
See those letters? Those are the chord names. If you look at children’s music books, they should have the chord names posted above the music. Just push the chord buttons and strum away! Look at you, you instant musical genius, you!
Of course, you could always buy a real autoharp, but I think you’d be happier with the Apple version.
Of course you will make sure that your students have a complete change of clothes in their cubbies in case they have an accident, but have you thought about having some on hand for yourself? A pair of jeans, shirt, and yes – socks and underthings – will come in very handy. Hopefully you’ll never have to use them, but when you are holding a child who throws up all over you, you will be grateful.
Oh, so grateful.
Honestly, if we believe that children should be spending time outside every day (and they should), then you should also be prepared for it. I am a big believer in layering for the cold, but for years I kept saying that I should buy a set of winter overalls. Finally I went to the local farm supply store (during their after-season sale) and bought a pair of overalls for a reasonable amount. I have never regretted it. They zip right over my teacher clothes and I am as warm and toasty as the children.
There are a couple of differing views regarding doing calendar with preschoolers. I had a young teacher send me the following e-mail:
I was just curious if you had a formal calender time in your classroom. Now that we have been doing our calendar time everyday since August, I am wondering if it is still useful to my students. I change it up everyday so that it is engaging but I am just not sure if it is the best use of our time. Could you please let me know your thoughts? Thank you so much!
Yes, we do calendar time, and I am aware of the controversy regarding its value. I’ll just throw in that it takes us a maximum of 2 minutes, and it’s no big deal. We count up to the day and then the children who want to help guess raise their hands. (It’s a habit now.) I ask one of them, “Are you thinking of the number or the shape?” and they tell me.
If it’s a 2-digit day, they guess what two numbers make up ’16’, and I take any answer, then we figure it out together, starting at the 10 or 20 – “1-0, 1-1, 1-2, etc.” Then someone else guesses the shape and I say, “Why do you think it’s _____” and they usually know & say the pattern. Tape up the day and we are done. In my opinion it is a daily exposure to counting aloud and patterns, but we don’t spend a heap of time on it.
Hope it helps!