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.
Here is a copy of my daily schedule. Please note that we are flexible with our times. Mealtimes are the only times that we need to be prompt.
Our doors open at 6 a.m., and full-day children can arrive anytime. We ask that all full-time children who need breakfast arrive by 8:00. Actual ‘preschool time’ is from 8:45- 11:15. Some of our children come for this time only. Even though that is ‘preschool time’, we know that learning happens all day.
6 – 7:30: Quiet play in our ‘gathering room’.
7:30 – 8:00 – Free play in our classroom
8:00 – 8:40 – Clean-up, bathroom visit, and breakfast
8:45 – Songs, Calendar, Story and Daily Discussion (We talk about our main topic and then hear what Center Choices will be.)
9/9:15-ish – 10:10 – Center Time (Blocks, Housekeeping, Books, Science, Writing Table, Painting, Sensory Table and three rotating Centers)
10:10-10:30 Clean-up and Jesus Time
10:30 – 11:00 Outside Time
11-11:25 Stories, bathroom visit (morning-only children get picked up at 11:15)
11:30-12:00 – Lunch
12:00-12:30 – Bathroom visit and get ready for nap. (Children watch a video while cots are set out.)
12:30 – 2:00 Nap
2:00 – 3:30 – Wake up, Free Play, Snack
3:30 – 4:30 – Outside Time
4:30 – 6:00 – Free Play
A simple stick-figure calendar is posted in our room so the children can see what is coming next. At home visits, I bring a copy to the child to go over and keep. (There is a short version for Preschool Only children and the longer version for All Day children.)
What works well in our room is that we try to limit transitions. Our center time is a good long hour where children can become deeply engaged in their work, and don’t have to start and stop so often.
A brainstorming place for some of the things we do when studying plants. This is a topic to begin in early spring.
Soak beans and open to find the baby root, stem and leaves. Compare to unsoaked beans.
Plant beans in a paper towel-lined jar to watch sprout.
Plant seeds in pots for playground.
Bring in tree seeds to observe – acorns, buckeyes, maple seeds.
Save items for compost – ongoing.
Bring in flowers and leaves to observe and draw.
Hammer green leaves between two pieces of paper. (Outside)
to be continued
We’re at 18 days until the start, and the past few days I’ve called or left messages with all the families for home visits. Yesterday I updated the little video I give to new families and put my papers in the home visit packets. This year I included a page about handling separation. Still to do? *sigh* Accreditation. We’re supposed to be done with it by August 22, and it seems I’m having a difficult time getting moving. Fear will be a great motivator.