Monday, August 31, 2015

Literacy Centers and Organization

Hi Everyone!

I am Meghan from Meghan's Pad.  I wanted to give you all a sneak peek at what I am going to do during my literacy center/guided reading time this year, and how I have it all organized.

This week {tomorrow} I will have a new class of Kinders that will begin their year with me.  Each year, I feel the need to revamp an area of my curriculum.  This year, it's my center time!  

Centers are a great way, as we all know, to engage students in learning by providing them with hands on learning materials and the opportunity to regulate their learning needs.

This year, I am jumping back on the center wagon, and I couldn't be more excited!  The past few years I have struggled with having to use the district mandated curriculum, knowing that Kinders need more hands on, play based learning.  I have struggled with the early finishers, the no matter what I give you to do, you are going to refuse to do it, and the different learning styles and needs.

After much reflection, I have come up with a format that I think I am going to like, and a format that I hope my kinders will like as well.  Here it goes...

Each day I will gather the children on the rug for a small mini-lesson.  These mini-lessons are going to be based on the needs of Kinders.  These lessons can include alphabet, sounds, building words, rhyming, segmenting, strategies, digraphs, consonant blends, vowel blends, and the list goes on.  I will then have a "have to" activity that the children will need to do each day.  During the literacy block it can be an alphabet center, letter writing center, building word center, reading center, phonemic center.  Each day their have to center will switch, so by the end of the week each child has completed all the have tos.  

After the "have to" center is complete they will either turn it in, or will fill out a small exit slip, so I can quickly review their understanding, along with hold them accountable for doing the center.  Then the children will choose a "can do" center.  These centers will be a combination of old "have tos" and other centers that help to support that centers "have to."

Have I lost you??  I know it's confusing!  Here is an example:  A student on Monday will go to the alphabet center and complete the "have to" center.  Once they are done, they fill out and turn in their exit slip.  They then go to the alphabet "can do" drawer and grab a center, take it back to their seat {not assigned, just where they were working} and complete that center.  Once they have completed all the "can dos" that they want, then they can go to the alphabet "now what" drawer to work on those activities.

The "now whats" are going to be more independent activities that can include "worksheets," or reading.

My hope is that children will continue to be engaged, and will find the learning method that they prefer.

So now, the storage!  I love to organize, and love to buy bins.go inside of bins.  So these are PERFECT!  

I love to find bins that I found these bins at Joann Fabrics, and have been in love with them.  Each center fits perfectly inside these 4X6 photo cases {materials and all}!  


I am currently putting each center into a small container, and then each container into a drawer system.  This picture was taken before I labeled the drawers.  I have the "can do" centers in one of the drawers and the "now whats" in the drawer directly under.  Each is labeled with the center {alphabet, letter writing, word building, etc.}, and a number {either 2 or 3 for "can do" and "now what"}.


I am currently working on setting up something similar for math and our phonics time.

I would love to know how do you do centers in your room so you are able pull groups?  What do the children do when you are in a small group?  I can't wait to hear all the great ideas!!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Welcome to My Pad!

After viewing some of my pictures, I realized that I already need to update some!  Once things settle down, I will make sure to update.

I hope you enjoy the tour of my "new" pad!

My rug area is a place where we meet for our morning meeting, mini-lessons and read alouds.  

The front of my rug includes a big book stand {with storage}.  This is used for big books, and curriculum charts.  It is also a place where our learning target can be displayed.

I also have an easel {with storage}.  The easel is double sided and magnetic.  It is used for modeling, center work and mini-lessons.

Next to the easel is a set of drawers that hold CDs, clipboards and materials that are needed for mini-lessons for the week.

These chairs were purchased as an option for children to use while on the rug.  My hope is they will help children who need wiggle while sitting.  

These chairs will also help children who crave their own personal space, while helping others define theirs.

It will also help save my books!  Yes, save my books.  Over the years, it seems that no matter who sits in the back row, they cannot fight the need to use my bookshelf as a backrest.  These chairs are going to be solution!

In addition to using these chairs during our group time, children will also be able to use them during independent work time.

This is a view of my rug when you enter my room.

This reading area is awaiting a new table {a circle table or horseshoe table}.  This will be a table where children can work in cooperative groups, independently, or in small group with a teacher or support staff.

The reading area also consists of comfy chair to curl up in, a board with strategy reminders, materials to help children decode words, and a resource self.  This resource shelf not only serves as a resource shelf for me, but also for the children.  This shelf hosts extra supplies, folders, and district assessment binders.

Next to the resource shelf is a set of cubes that contain plastic bags, recess chalk {our school supplies everything else and is kept outside}, and extra winter gear {hats, mittens, socks}.

Along the wall, are leveled books.  These are books that children will use during read to self time, and read to someone. 

My teacher area houses my planning binders, group binders, curriculum, and supplies.This is also the area that received an additional face lift.

Can you spy my next project? {My file cabinet}  I would love to cover the drawers with chevron contact paper, and then paint the frame the teal blue color from my room.  

Not pictured is my small group table and my newly finished stools.  Picture coming! :)

These cubbies were made by my hubby and my dad for my classroom when I just started out.  They were created to hold binders, book boxes and other materials that were needed.  

Over the years, I continue to use them as a place to store book boxes, folders, headphones, and other classroom materials.  

This year, they are going to contain headphones, book boxes, and each child's work folder and interactive notebook.  Inside their book boxes I am going to have a zippered pencil pouch that will hold flashcards and book rings for listen to reading.

These lunch trays are used for attendance every day.  Each day the children place their lunch frog on either the trays that represent what type of lunch they are going to have for that day {either home lunch of school lunch}.

The tower was created by myself and my husband.  It has magnetic strips that can hold pocket charts, whiteboards, feltboards, and also includes shelving.  This tower is uses on a daily basis for center work and storage.

These table caddies were purchased and painted this summer.  They rotate and have 6 compartments.  They will hold scissors, pencils and glue sticks. I am also playing around with putting highlighters in so children can highlight their name.  

I also put washi tape on to distinguish between the table colors.

This is our alphabet reference wall.  These posters are used to help children with their letter sounds. 

My take a break chair.  This is a place where children can go to calm down.  It is self regulated, but I always tell them that I reserve the right to tell them to take a break, along with telling them when they are done {only if they are staying to long and possibly avoiding work}.

This is my focus wall.  The past few years, our district has put a focus on using a focus wall to display student learning objectives for each lesson.  I created and printed an "I can" statement for each standard, in each of the different areas.  I placed each section on a set of binder clips, and hung them on heavy duty magnetic hooks.  I also added a column for how they are going to be working/receiving the information, and then another for the materials they will need for the lessons and implementation.

These shelves host my centers.  These are where the "have to" centers are going to be located.  

In addition to the "have to" centers, the "can do" centers that have large materials to go with, will also be on these selves.

I hope you enjoyed a photographic tour of my classroom.  As I add things to the bulletin boards and continue to label and "live" in it, I will update the pictures.  

I hope you all have a wonderful school year! 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What Worked Well Wednesday

Hi Everyone!  

I am teaming up with Kinder Tribe for a linky party.  This linky is What Worked Well Wednesday, where you have the opportunity to share one thing that worked well for you that week.  

I have been busily getting my classroom ready for my group of Kinders.  As you know, this year I decided to completely make-over my classroom.  One of the things that I made-over was my lunch count tray.

Here is the before:

I made these last year by taking 2 cookie sheets (from the dollar tree), drilled holes, inserted grommets, tied them together with ribbon (and another ribbon to hang), and then made ten frames using white electrical tape.

Each morning, the children found their magnetic lunch card (naturally a frog) and placed in one of the boxes depending on if they brought a lunch from home, or if they were going to have a school lunch.  

It made it very easy for me to quickly see how many children were at school, getting a school lunch, and how many brought a lunch form home.

We also used these trays during large group math to help us solve story problems, practice subitizing, and work on comparing.

So after using the "plain" ole' ones, I decided to update and brighten.  This is the result...

The after:

I used the spray paint that matched the colors in my room, updated the ribbon, and used washi tape to make the 10 frames.

I am so excited with how these turned out!  I can't wait to show you the rest of my classroom remodel!

I would love to know how you take attendance in your room.  Please leave a note in the comments about what you.  Thank you so much!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Sneak Peek!

With school starting in just a few weeks, I have been busily working on my classroom.

This is what I have done so far...

This is my new teacher space...

I am still decorating and bringing in new drawers.  I am also seriously thinking about painting the vowels in the alphabet {above} lime green.  I would also love to give my file cabinet a serious makeover {I am thinking teal, with teal chevron drawers}!

This area started out as an area for support staff, or volunteers could work at with students.  Last year they never used that area, so this year, I turned it into a reading area.

I still have to redo my bulletin board {the new boarders are hanging from the board, and new fabric is on the way}.  I have my leveled library on the shelves. Next to the library is a cozy reading chair.  {I am still trying to figure out what to put on the big white shelf} The stack of white cubes is going to be a place for extra winter gear, bags, and recess games.

The floating table {is missing it's partner} is going to be a place for children to read or work collaboratively together.  

And last, but not least....


And this is where my list of To Dos starts!  

First on my list....clean.  Once things are picked up, I am going to paint over all of my old colors, take down the rainbow alphabet, put up my word wall, paint and reupholster my stools, put up my focus wall, place my new table caddies, put labels on on my book boxes... 

What is on your To Do list?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Summer Projects

After teaching in the same room for 8 years, and having the same decor for 10 years, I have decided it is time for a change!  

Leading up to this year, my classroom color scheme was red, yellow, green, and blue.  When my class size increased I added orange, lime green, and light blue.  

In addition to these colors, I had a frog themed room (hence the theme of my blog).  The frog theme started, not for a love of frogs (because I don't), but because that is what all the rage was when I first started teaching at our local teacher supply store.  My classroom was soon dubbed the "Frog Room."  Throughout the year children and teachers began collecting frog things for me.  I naturally felt bad changing my theme the following year, so it stuck!

This year, I am going to continue with the frog theme, but toned down.  I am however, changing my colors.  My new colors are blue, lime green, and teal.  I am so excited to makeover my classroom!

My first project is spray painting.  I have several things that I am going to be painting.  The first project is my cubbies!

10 years ago, my hubby and my dad created these awesome cubbies for me.  They are awesome!!  They are 14" X 14" (perfect for a binder).  I use these for just bout everything.  Each child has a cubby that holds their book box, work folders, (interactive notebooks--new this year), and headphones.    

Here are some pictures of the cubbies before, during, and in the classroom.

Cubbies Before
Cubbies During

In the classroom

My next project...the stools in my room! 

What summer projects are you completing before school starts?