Thursday, September 19, 2013

A New Year, A New Job and Word Walls

This year I am working as a mentor and coach to some very nice PK and Kindergarten teachers!  I am very excited to get to visit their classrooms and help them make learning FUN!!!!  Last week we met and the subject of word walls came up.  It seems that "some other people at their school" (that's code for administrators)  wondered why there were no words on the word wall the first week of school.  I'm sure you know and they knew that words don't just appear on the word wall - they have to be introduced first and discussed so that the children understand 1. that they are WORDS and 2. that the print has meaning.  Four year olds are like that!  So here is a picture of what the word wall should look like the first few days of school.
Yep!  Completely empty except for the letters with pictures.  By the way did you know it is important to always put the pictures after the print when displaying words in your classroom.  That way the children have to attend to the print first before they get the meaning from the pictures.  After a few days (weeks -yikes!) when everyone has stopped crying, you can start introducing words.  The most important word to a 4 or 5 year old guessed it......their name.  We talked about introducing each child, showing their picture and looking at the letters in their name and finding their name on the name chart (also hanging in the classroom).  You can do class cheers with the letters in their name and/or cut the name apart into individual letters and mix them up and practice putting them back into the correct order (with a model to look at of course).

After you have done a few names your word wall will start to fill up with smiling faces and friend's names.
These teachers have their word walls displayed on a magnetic whiteboard, so during center time the students can take the words down and put them back up them over and over again.  This is great practice for looking at the first letter of the name and trying to match it to a letter on the word wall.  Many people don't realize just how many skills are required for a four or five year old to be able to match letters.  First they have to look and see if there are straight lines or curves, if the letter is tall or short, what position the letter is in (b/d), is it uppercase or lowercase, and they have to be able to separate it from the other letters in the word.  That's a lot of analytical observations for a 4 year old.

In this kindergarten room the children are busy using the word wall to read the room.  
This teacher has already added a few more words to her word wall.  As you can see she has them color coded.  The pink cards are thematic words - see, feel, hear taste (The Five Senses), and the orange cards contain sensory words such as hard, soft, rough etc.

I think the teachers have done a great job with their word walls and will be able to explain what they are doing to "those other people".  One more thing, the names will stay up all year - depending on your class, last names can be added later.  Once a theme of instruction is complete, those thematic cards come down and go into the writing center to be used as a reference for the children's writing.

Here are 3 more pictures of another word wall.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Win a TpT Gift Certificate

Happy Saturday!  And to make it even happier you could win a $20 TpT gift certificate!  All you need to do is go to our new The Teaching Tribune pintrest board here and follow it then come back and enter the rafflecopter.  We hope you all have been enjoying our collaborative blog The Teaching Tribune.  We have joined 20 of our best bloggy friends to bring you a peek inside our classrooms this month.  It has been so much fun to see everyone's home away from home.  Good luck and have a Great weekend!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Why We Think Learning Should Be FUN!!

     Children are naturally motivated - they just may not be motivated to do what we want them to do! What motivates children? Learning new things that they think are interesting (not what we think is interesting!) and  playing - children learn through play. Our challenge as educators is to make learning fun - not work. So good teachers are playful! They enjoy their children, have fun with them and teach at the same time. 
"How-To" Make a Pizza

     The litmus test- if you think the children are not doing their "work" - then maybe you need to rethink what you are expecting them to do. Your goal may be that they will excel, but that is not their goal. If you lay down the foundation that learning is fun and interesting, then as they mature, they will continue to want to keep on learning because they are curious.
      Head over to our store for a FUN freebie! While you are there, follow us and take a look at some of our FUN hands-on products!

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Dramatic Play Center

     With the beginning of school, we are all setting up our centers. We wanted to repost our Dramatic Play make-over pictures with the explanations of what was done and the explanations. Enjoy!

As Early Childhood teachers we know the dramatic play center is so much more than "play" time. When set up appropriately, this center provides many opportunities for the students to practice important literacy and math skills.  We always look for as many ways as possible to get them reading and writing .  This month we set up a vet's office.

We made the patient waiting room complete with a sign in board and a basket of books to read while waiting.  You can see two "patients" waiting for the doctor. To add functional print we have a dog entrance and a cat entrance labeled.

During the examination the doctor has many tools - x-rays, bandages, gloves, etc., (all donated by our local vet) as well as "medicines" (we used empty vitamin bottles), a prescription pad, various wellness products, pamphlets for the owners and of course nonfiction books.

 Notice the pocket chart with all of the words we brainstormed for the vets office.

During the actual exam the "dining" table is turned into the examination table.  As you can see our patient has a head wound.
Of course there are patient records that need to be filled out .

After the visit with the doctor is finished, it is time to pay and make a follow up appointment if necessary.  The receptionist will be there to assist the patients. 
We equipped this area with a receipt book, a money drawer, pretend checks, a money chart, a calendar and telephone for making and recording appointments, a phone book, a price list, hours of operation, and a telephone message pad.  Everything the patient and doctor need to complete the visit.

Thanks for touring our vet's office.  If you would like some of the free functional print we used please click the picture below. 

We have a dramatic play packet with all the forms your kids will need to open a vet's office, a restaurant, an eye doctor's office or go on a vacation on an airplane!  Click on the picture below to check it out.

Next week we will be adding literacy to the block center.  Hope you can join us!