Showing posts with label Classroom Management. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Classroom Management. Show all posts

February 16, 2013

My Favorite Things: AlphaBeat

My Favorite Things:  What I feel every Early Childhood Teacher should have in their bag of tricks!

Here is my first recommendation:

If there was one CD I would recommend for movement with young children - it would be this one.  I first found this CD in my public library in 2003.  It has been a mainstay in my teaching practice ever since. 

Kate Kuper uses amazing visuals as she moves children's bodies in delightful and fun ways.  This CD is truly creative movement and dance at its finest.

On Kate's website you will find a companion guide and video of her teaching in action.   I have used this CD with children from three-years-old to seven-years-old.  The response is always the same - "Can we do it again?"

Promise.  It is worth its weight in gold.

September 20, 2012

The Never Ending Story. . . .

Here is a little gold nugget I use in my classroom.  I tell an ongoing story that lasts all year long.  It is a simple tale about a Mother, a Father, a Sister, a Brother, a Cat and a Dog.  I do not use names - just Mother, Mom, Father, Dad, etc. - as using these terms allows room for the children to inject their own experiences.  They may even imagine their own family.

I will use this to bring things that have happen in the classroom, in student's lives, the school, the playyard, my life -- and I make it up as I go!  If I weave in something that happen in the life of a classmate - I change enough details that it is not directly identified.  BUT it is close enough the children's eyes widen with recognition.  This is a great way to deal with tattling, lying, mean comments, leaving messes, etc.  You will be stunned at how effective storytelling is in resolving classroom issues.  You can give solutions indirectly with the story.

Each time I tell another "chapter" of the story - these ingredients are present:

-something happens - there is a problem
-a journey unfolds
-a solution is found

I end with a cliffhanger.  This has the children wanting more.  They will ask for "The Mother story or Brother story."

The tale involves everyday happenings.  Here is a little bit of a sample:

Have fun! It is true Fairy Dust Magic!!!

June 24, 2012

Rewards vs. Bribes: What's the Difference?

How do you know the difference between when you are rewarding student behavior, bribing student behavior or holding them to logical consequences?

This is really important because if you are bribing and bargaining with your students - you are in deep doodoo.  It often sneaks up on you and before you know it - you are selling your soul for a little piece of mind in the classroom.

Not any more because I have some Teaching Truth for you!  I love teaching truths!

The true reward is the satisfaction of doing the right thing.  It builds character.

Many teachers get confused about the difference between rewarding and bribing.  Isn’t it all the same thing anyway?   Nope.  Not even.  

I can give you the bottom line in two words:  compensation and persuading.   It is that simple.  Here is an example of how this works:

FiFi the poodle is running wildly out the front door and down the street. (Hey - sometimes it could be a student. . . .)
  • SCENARIO 1:  You call to FiFi and say "Stop!  Sit down Fifi!"  Fifi obeys you and sits down.  You go and give Fifi a doggie treat.  You just rewarded Fifi for correct behavior (doing the right thing).  Fifi has been compensated for doing what you asked.
  • SCENARIO 2:  You call to FiFi and say "Stop! Sit down FiFi!"  But FiFi keeps running.  You call your command again.  No response from FiFi.  You are worried about her safety so you rush to get a treat and anxiously say, "Look FiFi, come to me and you can have a treat!"   FiFi stops running from you and turns around to come for the treat. You are bribing FiFi into doing what you want her too.  You have just persuaded Fifi.
Do you see the difference?  Let’s break it down even further.  How does it look in the classroom:

Rewards are used to REINFORCE appropriate behavior.  A student is asked to complete a paper first thing each morning.  The student complies and does as he was asked.  He is rewarded for his appropriate action with a trip to the treasure chest on Friday.  

Bribes are used to persuade students to do what you want them to.  But here is the catch. 
Say for example, this same student is asked to complete a paper first thing each morning.  The student does not do the work and even worse, distracts other students from their work.  The teacher is at his wits end with the lack of work being done.  "Hey!"  he says to this student, "If you finish your work every morning this week - we will have a movie on Friday."  The student responds (with a sparkle in the eye) "Can I pick it?"  "Sure" replies the teacher.
  • The student was bribed into doing the appropriate behavior.
  • The student DID NOT demonstrate any personal motivation to do what is expected.
  • Respect and responsibility are completely missing from this situation.  In fact, the student was ignoring the teacher's instructions outright.
While rewarding students has it pitfalls, it does demand that the student is demonstrating personal responsibility to do the right thing.   This is a good thing. 

Whereas bribing actually REINFORCES that the student does not need to do the right thing to get what they want.  They can manipulate and hassle the teacher into rewarding them for doing the wrong thing! 

SALLY'S TEACHING TRUTH - it never works to bribe and bargain with your class!  It is setting yourself up for more chaos!  Yikes! 

The most effective method is logical consequences.  It does not reward or bribe.  It teaches and guides!  (The Classroom Management Boot Camp dives into this big time.)

In the comments below tell me - Where do you think the Light systems fit in (like the red light/green light and similar methods)?  Are they rewards?  Bribes?  Logical consequences?  Love to hear your opinion!!

May 13, 2012

A Dash of Power: 7 Steps to Effective Classroom Management

What is A Dash of Power?

A Dash of Power is a 5 week online course that takes you step by step through the Five Rings of Influence to unleashing your capacity for confidence, peace and joy in classroom management.  

       Learning Made Easy Peasy!
      The course is delivered in weekly modules through a password protected blog. 

       You will have 24/7 access to the modules.

       The material will remain accessible for two months following the course.

A Dash of Power Curriculum
A Dash of Power is based on the Seven Steps of the Soulful Discipline Process and the Five Rings of Influence.
Here's a sneak peek at week one. . .

Module One - Ring of Influence: Teacher to Inner Self:
What is your style of classroom management? 
    -Discover the three main styles of discipline and how each impacts your day to day
What is your teaching style?
    -This is so critical to your classroom management style.  If the two match don't match - yikes!  
What is your intention in disciplining children?
    -Uncover your soulful purpose for classroom management.  This is the key to joy!
Create a "Flight Plan" for your classroom management approach - one that will give you clarity and consistency in the classroom.


This is the perfect time to take this course and to refuel for the next school year. 

April 01, 2012

The Safe Pocket System Lesson Plan Packet!

Dear Ones,
I am so excited to offer you my first Lesson Plan Store product! It is a lesson plan packet specifically designed for implementing the Safe Pocket System.  It has everything you need to have a visual system of building children's appropriate behavior and social skills.

Add to Cart

only $5.99

This packet includes:
  • a poster of the Safe Pocket System Star
  • a poster of all the Life Skills
  • a poster for each of the Life Skills with definitions and a guiding question
  • daily lesson plans for introducing the system and each life skill
  • sign language connections to use as non-verbal corrections
  • family connections for each life skill
  • printable kangaroos for your pockets
  • and more!
Enjoy this packet.  Let me know how it works for you!

    View Cart

    March 14, 2012

    The Peace Table

    One of the best gifts from Montessori education has to be the concept of the Peace Table.  The Peace Table is a conflict resolution tool for the classroom.  Traditionally, there is a peace rose that the children can present to a child they have a conflict with and "go" to the table to work it out.  I have adapted the process for my classroom and circumstance and am using a little heart stone a friend gave me.  My Peace Table is small and easy to sit on the floor with. 

     The child who is upset brings the issue to the Peace Table.  Holding the stone, they state the problem.
    I coach the child to state the problem as "I did not like it when. . . ."
    Then from that point on it is a "I feel ______ when _______" statement. (I statements!)

     The other child has a chance to say what they are feeling as well.  The peace stone goes back and forth until the children have expressed all their feelings and the issue is resolved.

    What is amazing about the process is that the children are given a chance to safely express their feelings to a peer.  There is the tool for "talk turns" - the peace rose or stone.  It eliminates tattling as I just send them to the Peace Table.  Nine times out of ten, the problem is resolved by the very act of communicating their feelings.  The children who have trouble with their peers need help with this process - but it is a great forum to do it!   

    Wish we could have a global Peace Table for big people. . . .and it worked like this does!!!

    February 25, 2012

    Reflective Teaching - Free Journal!

    Click on reflection page to download.

    I think if there is one thing that has made the most impact on my teaching - it would be my reflective practice.  At the end of the day I always take a moment to look at how the day went.  I do not linger on my answers.  Rather, I write down what immediately comes to mind.  It does not take long to quickly review your day.  (This is also a great tool to use with student teachers in your care.)  Here are some of the benefits of a reflective practice:
    • your teaching becomes more like research - learning along side the children
    • attention is given to those areas that might otherwise be overlooked
    • the social and emotional climate of the classroom is addressed daily
    • teaching becomes more responsive to the children's current learning needs
    • you will develop an more observant eye in the classroom

    February 22, 2012

    Collaborative Groups

    I have been playing with my color groups and providing more collaborative opportunities.  There is this transition after winter break that begs for more collaborative work.  The children are ready for the rich experiences of negotiation, problem solving, compromise and all the rich, juicy stuff of working with others!!

     Each week I try to provide at least one collaborative piece for the children to work on.  This week as a quick transitional piece - each group worked together on a "doodle drawing." 

    I had each group create a dancing dragon during the Chinese New Year unit.

    Each group decided on their group "name."  Everyone had to agree.  It took two days for the groups to finalize their names.  They decorated their group posters together.

    What collaborative work do you have your students do?  I really want to expand what I do and would love to hear your ideas!

    December 04, 2011

    Guest Blogger: Kerry Weisner from Discipline Answers

    Happy Sunday!  I am so excited to share a wonderful resource with you.  I met Kerry in my e-course A Dash of Power: The Heart of Classroom Management.   She shared the blog she maintains and it is packed with rich and wonderful classroom management strategies and techniques.

    Below, she shares a comprehensive list of procedures she developed for her classroom.  In my experience, teaching procedures reduces, if not eliminates many classroom management issues.  Procedures make our expectations clear and attainable!  Enjoy!

    Blog Link:  Discipline Answers

    Hundreds of simple procedures... to save my sanity

    Dr. Marshall always emphasizes that successful classroom discipline actually begins by developing skill with Step One of his DWS Teaching Model––classroom management. Over the years, as I have come to experience that what he says is true, I have found great value in becoming more and more deliberate in my planning and teaching of classroom management procedures.

    At the beginning of every school year (and whenever I introduce a brand new activity/center in my classroom,) I take the time to proactively think through HOW I want the activity to run. In my mind I try to visualize how the children will move through the activity from start to finish. I troubleshoot for problems BEFORE THEY OCCUR. By doing this, I ensure that my students will have greater success and that actual discipline (behavior) problems will be at a minimum.

    I no longer assume that the children in my class will simply know what I expect of them. These days I go very slowly to build these understandings. Step-by-step, I explicitly teach my behavior expectations for every school situation. (Click here for a specific example.) Then I allow sufficient time for practice. Day after day in the first weeks of school, I make a point to thoroughly and methodically explain the procedures (rather than the rules) I expect children to follow. This leads to a very positive climate in the classroom, a smoother running program and more academic progress in the long run.

    What follows is an extensive list of detailed procedures that I have been compiling over a number of years. Whenever I run into a classroom problem that I didn't foresee, I repair the situation with a new classroom procedure. :)  Then I add that procedure to my master list so that the following year I will remember to teach it proactively. Each year my classroom management improves as I reap the benefits of being organized and thorough in my planning.

    Please understand that these procedures are written down only for my own planning and teaching purposes. I don't share them with parents or even substitute teachers (who simply wouldn't have time to take them all in.)

    Although each teacher's procedures will be different, sometimes it is helpful to see an example from someone else. (Further thoughts on creating procedures for your own classroom can be found here and on the Discipline Answers blog. Look for heading "Procedures in the Classroom.")

    Arrival at School
    • When you arrive, put your backpack in line at the hallway door.
    • There are several choices at this time:
    - Quietly sit with your things.
    - Leave your belongings against the wall and go outside to play. Return when the bell ring and line up with your things.
    - Gently look at books in the hallway bin. Return them gently when the bell rings.
    Coat Area
    • We enter the class through the hallway door, rather than the outside door.
    • We walk at an “indoor speed” to the coatroom area.
    • We leave space between people as we walk.
    • Backpacks are hung by the handle on the bottom hook, facing forward, zipper stays open during the day.
    • Jewelry and toys stay in backpacks.
    • Lunches are taken out of backpacks.
    • If your food is loose in your backpack, get a plastic bin from the end of the shelf. Place all your food inside.
    • Lunch bags and lunch bins are stored in upper cubby.
    • Place bags/bins so that there will be room for other student lunches too.
    • Store lunches/bins directly above your own name.
    • At the end of the day, return lunch bins to the stack. Dirty ones go to the sink.
    • Jackets, sweaters, hoodies are placed on top hook, over the backpacks.
    • Look for the best way to hang your clothes—by the hood, neck, or loop at neck.
    • Shoes are stored in bottom cubby “train style,” rather than side by side (so there will be room for two people to store shoes in same cubby.)
    • Outdoor shoes are stored in cubby in the same way, until we get them out at recess time.
    • Sit away from cubby area while putting on shoes to allow others near hooks.
    • Give any money for milk or soup orders to the teacher at this time.
    • When all coatroom chores are complete, sit crisscross on the line (created by the edge of the entry carpet.)
    • Turn your body toward the teacher's chart stand (where we often have a quick lesson.)
    • The teacher's chart stand is just for the teacher's use. All the items in the cart and the felt pens on the front are just for the use of the teacher.
    • "Sign in” by walking (at an “indoor speed”) to the small yellow table. Find your name tag and place it in the pocket chart at the carpet area. Once a name has been placed in the pocket chart, it stays there. We leave other people's name tags exactly where they have been placed.
    Getting Student Attention

    See these links for some ideas I personally use plus many other possibilities:

    Snack and Lunch Eating
    • Wash hands at one of two places, bathroom or class sink.
    • Wet paper towel goes into the garbage cans, not the recycling can.
    • Placemats are placed on the table by the teacher. Placemats remain where they have been placed.
    • Look for your name.
    • Food items are placed on the placemat.
    • Lunch bins and bags are placed off the placemat.
    • To use good manners we sit facing others at our table (rather than turning outwards to visit with people behind.)
    • We eat only our own food, rather than sharing with others.
    • Put up your hand if you need help (to cut or open something) or water during snack time.
    • Spoons are in a cup on the sink; help yourself.
    Snack and Lunch Clean-Up
    • We keep all items at our spot until we completely finish eating.
    • Placemats go back in blue bin at the sink area.
    • Juice boxes go in dark blue bucket. Straws go in the light blue bucket.
    • Crumbs go into garbage cans, located at either end of book display shelf.
    • To deal with crumbs on placemat, carry placemat with two hands and shake into the garbage.
    • Paper towels are on the sink area if you need to wipe something up.
    • Rags are under the sink for bigger spills.
    • Small dustpans and brooms are kept on the low gray filing cabinet to clean up crumbs under the table.
    • Crumbs go into the garbage cans (There are two at either end of the shelf.)
    • Plastic containers (from jello or pudding etc.) go into the light blue bucket for recycling. The teacher washes them out later.
    • School spoons or cups go in the sink to be washed by the teacher.
    • Spoons from home can be washed, dried and returned to your lunch bag.
    • Clean, dry paper or cardboard go into paper recycling box near the art easel.
    • Choose a book for “Book Look” time and return to your seat. Make sure the table is dry so as not to damage the book.
    • Push your chair in where you were sitting when you leave.
    End of the Day
    • When we are dismissed, we check our mailbox for any notices or things to go home.
    • We put our "mail" into backpacks.
    • We change our shoes and store indoor shoes in our cubbies.
    • When we're ready, we go to the door and sit down in two lines; a bus line and a line for everyone else.
    • The lines begin at the edge of the foam mat so we still have room to open the door.
    • We stay inside the room, even if we see our parents or siblings outside the door.
    • Bus students leave first. They go with an Educational Assistant who comes to pick them up.
    • The "Caboose" for the day turns out the lights and shuts the door as we leave.
    • When we reach the front of the school, we line up against the wall until the teacher sees a family member for us.
    • We keep kleenex on the shelf by the dollhouse. Take one kleenex, fold in half and cover nose. Blow nose gently, clean face and throw kleenex into the trash can.
    • We turn our head away from others to cough. We cough into a kleenex or "into our sleeves."
    • We look at a person when talking to them.
    • Saying "Please", " Thank you", and "You're welcome" are all important habits.
    • If we need the teacher, (but the teacher is already talking to someone,) we place one hand on the teacher's arm (if she's standing) or on her shoulder (if she's sitting.) The teacher will cover the child's hand to acknowledge the child. The child waits without talking until the teacher is able to give a turn. Sometimes we have to wait a few minutes for this to happen.
    Chalkboard Lessons and Practice Times
    • Pick up a chalkboard, brush and chalk from the horseshoe table.
    • Have a seat on the foam mat carpet, facing chalkboard easel where teacher sits. Sit criss-cross.
    • We leave the foam mat pieces flat on the floor, hooked together.
    • After practice time, erase the chalkboard and return materials to the bins.
    • Allow other people enough space and time to put their boards away so no one feels pushed.
    • Chalkboards go back in the bin so that they fit right inside and aren't hanging out.
    Table Work Times
    • If name cards are on tables, sit at your spot. We keep name tags where the teacher placed them.
    • If there are no name cards on tables, choose your own spot.
    • If there is no chair at your spot, just get one yourself from somewhere else in the room. We keep the legs down as we walk.
    • Pencils, crayons and pencil crayons are returned to their separate bins (green for crayons, yellow for scissors, black for glue, clear for pencils.) Any erasers on the table go into the pencil bin.
    • If we need a sharper pencil, we choose a new one from the bin on the table; we only sharpen pencils at Center Time.
    • We pick up any cutting scraps etc. and put them in the recycling or garbage cans.
    • Name place cards go in the red bucket on the shelf beside our work tables.
    • Our work goes on top of our book box when it is finished for the day.
    • If we've been using glue, we leave our books open to dry.
    • When we finish our own work, we clean our own area and then bring a book back to our table to enjoy.
    • As everyone finishes, we all pitch in to put away tool bins and clean the floor. Dustpans and brooms are kept in coat area.
    • School library books are kept in the big wicker basket at the edge of the carpet.
    • Public library books and our own classroom books are kept on the big bookshelf.
    • There are other book buckets on the windowsill that may also be used at any reading time.
    • We try to return each book to the same shelf or bucket from where we took it.
    • We make sure that the table is dry before we place a book on it. Drying rags for tables are under the sink.
    • We turn the pages from the corners and take care to treat books gently.
    • We may use the story retelling bags (with small puppets) at any book reading time. The bags are also returned to the big bookshelf.
    • After eating times, we may move our chairs away from our eating spot, to sit beside a friend and share a book.
    Show and Tell
    • We pick a name four days a week (Monday-Thursday) from our Show and Tell jar of popsicle sticks.
    • When the Show and Tell bag comes back the following morning it is stored on the teacher's chair at the carpet.
    • We keep the bag closed so that the contents will be a surprise for everyone at Show and Tell time.
    • We might have questions about the contents of the bag. If we have a question to ask we begin with "I wonder..." (This phrasing ensures that the student actually asks a question rather than taking the limelight by sharing stories of their own.) If time permits, we may share a story of our own.
    • After the Show and Tell is shared, the bag goes into the next person's backpack immediately so it's not forgotten at the end of the day.
    More information and ideas for Show and Tell procedures here.

    A literature lesson connected to Show and Tell procedures can be found here.

    Going Out in the Hallway
    • We get ready to go out in the hall by lining up at the door, using the edge of the foam mat as a guide.
    • Just before leaving the room, we pull names to find out who will be “Line Leader” and “Caboose." These two people will keep these jobs for the rest of the day.
    • All day long we allow the Line Leader/Caboose persons to slide into their positions without any fuss.
    • We stay right behind the person in front of us––the same person the whole way.
    • On the way we keep our hands to ourselves.
    • We stay very quiet while walking or while waiting to enter another room.
    • When we meet friends, siblings or cousins in the hall, we smile or wave rather than calling out a hello or giving hugs.
    • We get drinks in our room (rather than at the fountains in the hallway as we are walking by.)
    • When we use the school washrooms (rather than our classroom washroom,) three boys/girls enter at one time. As a person exits, the next boy/girl enters. As we exit, we rejoin the class line.
    Library Times
    • We visit the library on Wednesday mornings. We take our old book with us to return. We put returns on the front table.
    • When we arrive at the library, Mr. D. seats us on the storytime carpet. We go to the spot he indicates.
    • We sit criss-cross for the story.
    • When picking a book, we use a "browsing stick" to be able to return unwanted books correctly.
    • When we have picked a new book, we find our old book and take both books to Mr. D.'s sign-out desk.
    • We take our new book to the door, sit down in a line, and enjoy a quick look at our book until everyone is finished.
    • We hold our books to our hearts as we walk back to the classroom.
    • Library books go into our School Library basket in the class.
    Calendar and/or Circle Times
    • We sit on the carpet on a number space during Calendar Time. We don't sit on the red numbers that are too close to the front.
    • We sit on a letter space if we're making a circle.
    • We sit criss-cross and try to leave a comfortable space between ourselves and others.
    • People on the edges of the carpet keep it flat at all times.
    • If we want to say something we raise a hand.
    • We pull names from our "Lucky Duck" for the person who will have the next turn.
    • When a person is having a turn, we allow them to answer questions or lead the calendar routine.
    • Calendar time is the only time we rearrange or add things to the calendar bulletin board. We don't do this on our own at Center Times.
    • The following chart guides us in knowing how best to learn at group lesson times on the carpet.

    Gym Times
    • When we arrive at the gym, we ask the Line Leader to enter first (and alone for a moment) to activate the automatic lights. If the automatic lights don’t work, the Line Leader is the person to flick the switch on at the far end of the gym.
    • We follow the Line Leader to sit at the corner lines of the gym ready to do our first activity.
    • The Line Leader chooses the four actions (run, giant steps, airplane, gallop etc.) we will do around the four border lines of the gym floor. Then we sit again to hear the directions for the next activity.
    • Adults get equipment from the PE storage room; children wait on the green line outside the door.
    • When a person receives their equipment, they are free to go out in the gym to use it right away.
    • When the whistle blows, we sit, without talking, facing the teacher, to wait for the next direction.
    • If we have equipment, we hold on to it while the teacher is talking.
    • We get drinks after we return to the classroom (rather than leaving individually to visit the hallway fountain.)
    • When it’s time to leave the gym, we line up at the gym door on the black line.
    • When we get back to our classroom, we sit on the floor at the sink area quietly, while the teacher gets drinks for everyone.
    • Even those who don’t want a drink, take a cup (in case they change their mind) and sit with us.
    • As we finish our drinks, we put the cup in the sink and go to the next activity. If we want a second drink, we fill the cup ourselves.
    Computer Lab

    This link contains many suggestions for developing computer lab procedures.

    Recess and Lunch Playtimes
    • We wear outdoor shoes when we go outside, leaving our indoor shoes in our cubbies.
    • Kindergarten students may visit the sandbox, the playground, the swings and the paved areas.
    • We stay within the playground fences.
    • The main fields are for the older students.
    • We listen for the whistle so we know when recess is over. At lunch time we listen for the bell.
    • We line up outside our classroom, against the window. Look for the picture of the monkey in the window to be sure which room is ours.
    • Our class cleans up the school sandtoys, putting them in the large bins and bringing the bins into the school at the end of lunch play time.
    • We allow the Line Leader for the day to slide into the front spot.
    • Before we enter, we stamp our feet outside and then slide them across the entry carpet to remove as much sand as possible.
    • When our hands are really sandy, we ask the teacher to bring some water outside in a bucket to rinse them off.

    Center Times
    • We clean our things up when leaving one center to go to another.
    • If others are still playing with the same set of toys, they will clean up when they leave.
    • We walk from center to center.
    • We play purposefully with toys, rather than just scatter them across the floor.
    • We walk around things that are being used on the floor or carpet, rather than stepping on top of them.
    • When the teacher sets the timer, it means we have 5 more minutes of Center Time. We stay at the same center we’re at for the last 5 minutes.
    • We clean up when the timer rings.
    • When we finish cleaning our own area, we pitch in to help others.
    • When everything is clean, we go to the carpet for a story.
    • The big pillows from the block area can be moved to any spot in the room.
    Tool Bench Center
    • The box containing real wood and sanders are kept on top of the tool bench. Use these items on the floor.
    • Sanders are used on real wood but not “plastic wood.”
    • When you finish sanding, sweep up any sawdust with a dustpan and broom.
    • Replace the real wood and level it inside the box so that the lid will close. Snap the lid closed. Return to top of tool bench.
    • Play safety glasses and tape measure are kept on the top of tool bench.
    • The real and plastic bolts are kept in one drawer on the tool bench, while the “plastic wood” is kept in the other.
    • The carpenter aprons are hung on the hooks.
    Drama Center (currently set up as a home)
    • Pull out the little table and chairs from the corner when using them.
    • Dishes and utensils are kept inside the sink unit when not in use.
    • Play food is kept in a bin in the fridge. We keep it on the bottom shelf so that the door will close properly.
    • The baby cradles are kept under the computer table. We fold the blankets and place them in the cradle when finished, along with the baby pillow.
    • The dresser is where we store:
    1. Jewelry (in blue container in top drawer.)
    2. Cell phones (in the purple box in the top drawer.)
    3. Purses and wallets (middle drawer)
    4. Tablecloths (folded in the bottom drawer)

    • Drawers remain in the dresser.
    • Babies are stored in the cradles.
    • Stuffed animals are kept in large blue bin (stored on the toy shelf.)
    • Doll clothes are stored in the small laundry basket.
    • Clothespegs are stored in the black wire basket.
    • The clothesline is stored on top of the small table.
    • Dress up costumes are hung on the clothesrack.
    • Hats are kept in the red bin.
    • Dress up shoes are kept on the bottom shelf, lined up in pairs.
    Little Desk Center
    • Two people can use this desk at the same time.
    • Paper is kept in the drawer.
    • Notepads are kept in the orange bin on the top.
    • Scissors and gluesticks are kept in the "groove" at the back of the desk.
    • Felt pens are kept in the white bin.
    • Pencil crayons are in the blue caddy on the right side shelf.
    • Pencils and wax crayons are kept in the round bin built into the desk.
    • Stickers and envelopes are kept on the left side shelf.
    Little Cars and Trucks Center
    • The car mat is stored (rolled so that edges are straight,) on top of the block shelf. It’s used near the hallway door.
    • Even if the door is open, we keep little cars inside the classroom.
    • The wooden car buildings (fire house, gas station etc.) are stored on the wooden shelf near the door with doorways facing out. Wooden cars from this set are stored inside the buildings.
    • Other little cars and trucks are stored in the wicker basket on the block shelf.
    • The clear bin of little people and playmobil is stored on top of the wicker basket.
    Playdough Center
    • Any of the three classroom tables can be set up as a playdough center.
    • Spread out the vinyl tablecloth and put the four clips on the ends of the tables to hold the tablecloth. When not in use we keep the tablecloth, folded, in the red bin kept under the chalk easel. The four clips are kept loose on top of the tablecloth.
    • Take plastic bins of tools and cookie cutters from the chalk easel to the table. Lids are placed under the bins during center time.
    • Playdough is kept in ice cream buckets. Each bucket is a slightly different size, so matching correct lid to bucket is important at clean up time. We put the lids on fully so that our playdough won’t dry out.
    • At clean up time, we return all bits of playdough to the ice cream buckets. We use a piece of playdough as a “magnet” to pick up little bits.
    Dollhouse Center
    • If you need to lift the dollhouse, hold it under the floor, not the roof.
    • Three people can use the dollhouse at the same time if the table is pulled out.
    • The dolls and furniture are delicate. We play carefully with them.
    • The staircases are stored inside the dollhouse.
    • There are two baskets, a big one for dollhouse furniture and a small one for people.
    • The baskets are stored under the table and the table is pushed back in.
    • The clothes are glued to the dolls so we don’t try to take them off. The hair is also glued to the heads. We leave it as it is.
    • We can bring other toys to the dollhouse but we keep the doll house toys at this center.

    Games and Puzzles
    • Games and puzzles can be carried to tables or carpet area for playing.
    • Games and puzzles are returned to same shelf from which they came.
    • Last shelf in the row is for teacher materials.
    • All little pieces are kept together in the same container they came from and the lids are put on tightly so we don't lose pieces.
    • When we finish with a game or puzzle, we put it right away at that time.
    Painting Easel
    • We paint on paper only.
    • Paper is kept below on easel shelf.
    • Print your name on the paper before painting.
    • We use clips to attach the paper.
    • A pencil hangs on a string at either end of the easel for writing names.
    • We paint at the easel only during Center Time.
    • There’s room for two people (only) to paint at the same time.
    • Smocks are kept on hooks on the back of the door.
    • Only one brush is kept in each paint pot.
    • Painters share colors between them.
    • If a new paintbrush is needed, ask an adult to get them for you.
    • Finished paintings go on the drying rack.
    Individual Watercolor Paint Sets
    • If you'd like watercolors during center time, please ask an adult to reach one for you.
    • We use these sets at one of the large tables.
    • Please get your own water (in a small plastic container kept under sink)and your own brush (from under the sink)
    • If any water is spilled, please clean it up with a large rag (from under sink.)
    • Print your name on the paper before painting.
    • Put paintings on drying rack.
    • To clean up, empty paint water and leave container in sink.
    • Brushes are left in the sink too.
    • Wet paint rags are put in the light blue plastic bucket at the sink area.
    • Dry your table with a dry rag when you're all cleaned up.
    Large Sand Table
    • Ask an adult to remove and replace the heavy wood lid.
    • Four students fit nicely around this table; more is too crowded.
    • We try to keep all our expensive sand inside the box.
    • If sand is spilled accidentally, please get a small brush and broom to clean up.
    Math Manipulatives
    • The bins are labeled so we can put pieces back correctly.
    • Bins may be used at center times as well as math times.
    • We keep bins closed at other times.
    • Math items may be used at tables or on the carpet but we don’t take them to play in the other centers.
    Fine Motor Trays
    • One person at a time uses each tray; others may watch, but the trays are for individual use.
    • The person using the tray may keep it as long as they need to during a session.
    • Trays are to be used while sitting at a table.
    • We use the trays with great care because the pieces are delicate and break easily.
    • Trays are returned to the same place on the shelf each time; match the tray with the photo on the shelf.
    • Also use shelf photos to rearrange the items on the tray for the next person who will use them.

    • When building with any type of wooden block, we keep the structure lower than our heads. Foam blocks can go higher.
    • The lids for block bins are stored on the back shelf when we are playing with blocks (so that they don’t get broken from people stepping on them.)
    • Blocks are returned to the shelves, bin or box in which they were found.
    • We can mix different kinds of blocks, add in little people, animals, train track etc. but we return them all to their own spots/containers at clean-up time.
    • We can take blocks away from the block area to any carpeted area in the room but bring them back at clean-up time.

    Thank you Kerry for this wonderful list of procedures!

    November 20, 2011

    Motivation Magic!

    Good Morning!  Einstein, my sweet cat, says "Happy Sunday!"  Of course, everyday is the sabbath for Einstein.  ;)

    I have a trick to keeping the classroom tidy and clean.  It works wonders!  I use two strategies - procedures and group tally marks.


    Clear procedures save hours of struggle in the classroom.  It is one of my best tips for classroom management on multiple levels.  I love the book "The First Six Weeks of School" from the Responsive Classroom folks.  It gives great tips for setting up those procedures.  Here is how I employ procedures to keep the class tidy:

    My students are divided into five color groups.  Each group has their own table with their own "supply tub."  (Tubs are from Mardel's and I found little matching cups for each color group at IKEA!)  Gotta love that place!)  There are rules or procedures for keeping the supply tub.  I start the year with just crayons, glue sticks and scissors.  The procedures are:
    • crayons go in their cup with the point up.
    • scissors go in their cup with the point down.
    • glue sticks go in their cup with the cap side up (so I can see that the caps are on!)
    • name tents go on the side of the cups.
    Once they have these mastered, I add pencils and markers.
    • pencils go in their cup with the point up.  The erasers and pencil sharpener are kept in the same cup.
    • markers go in with the cap side up.  (so I can see that the caps are on!)

     You can see the pencil sharpener in the same cup as the pencils - all points up.

    I have my color groups posted on my white board (this is a photo from several years ago).  The names of the color groups are under the color marker.  The color groups sit on the carpet together in a row.   
    • I give tally marks for groups who are following procedures on the carpet, during table work, and other special activities.  (Table procedures - all chairs pushed in, table cleared off, and nothing under the table or chairs.)
    • I mark those under their group on the white board.  
    • I check their supply boxes and tables after table work (several times a day) and give 5 points the best kept table and supply box.   Some days the groups can have up to 35 - 40 points.
    I begin the tally marks as the reward itself.  I like the group rewards vs. individual rewards.  I do not use rewards for individuals in my classroom as a rule.  I love the team work of the groups and the holding each other to account to care for their group resources.  

    After 6 to 8 weeks I move into - the groups "earn" the reward of markers.  Next comes glitter glue pens.  We are still here.  (There is one time a day when the groups are free to use the glitter glue pens.)  Oh!  Get this!  I have the group vote on the glitter pen they want!  It is so cool to see how after the first few times - they figure out how to get the majority rule!  Each group has about 4 glitter pens now. I found them at Michaels - very cheap!  Next the groups can earn colored pencils.
    The tally marks are put below the row of each color group.

     There are those prized glitter glue pens!

    It astonishes me how much pride and work they take to make sure their group's table and tub are in good tidy order.  Recently, the children have taken to cleaning the table and chairs with baby wipes.  Go figure!  But rock on!  Love the cleaning vibe happening!

    Next Sunday, Guest Blogger Kerry Weisner shares her procedures that she uses to order her class.   So excited to share her wisdom!

    Have a blessed day!


    February 19, 2011

    More Reggio Inspiration!

    My New Calendar System:

    I love the black background and how lovely the board looks with child writing!

    Here is a view of my new calendar area.  When I changed the board from January to February, I realized I needed to put up a system that would not tear up the bulletin board paper every time and have that sleek look that I admire so much in Reggio.

    Just like before, the special helper of the day draws a picture for the day that I put on top of the blank card.  At the end of the day, the special helper recalls three special things we did that day and I write it on the blank card underneath the drawing.

    I love this because we can look back see what we did yesterday, last week - it is a documentation of time.   At the Reggio inspired school I visited in my area, they documented with photos.  I know I could not keep up with that so I adapted it to drawings.

     I strung wire across the board (jewelry wire) and hooked either end on a push pin.  What I like about this wire is that it allows me to clip a number of things on the board.  And the design can change by sliding the clip.  

    The index cards are attached with mini-clips.  It is so easy to add the top illustration and I can take the cards down and put up the next month in a snap!

    New Alphabet Frieze:
    In a quest to bring the majority of the print material in my classroom to child-made - I had the children remake my classroom alphabet set.  


    To do this switch, I gave each child one of the letter posters to write and draw.  I am so moved and touched by their beautiful work and it makes our space so beautiful.  I am still working on my classroom transformation.  More photos are coming. . .

    February 15, 2011

    "Reggio Inspired" Child Made Calendar and More!

    In November of last year, I had the opportunity to tour a Reggio Emilia inspired school in my area and see the classrooms.  One of the things that absolutely captured my heart was the child generated print materials.  

    It was so inspiring!  I came back resolved to toss my commercial made materials and have the children make them.  Here is what I have done so far:

    I use index cards to make the calendar.  We "x"-out the days we are not in school.  On school days, the special helper draws a picture for the day.  We staple that on top of the index card already on the board. 

    At the end of the day, the special helper recalls three things about the day and I record it on index card under the picture.  (You can see how it makes a flap above)  We can review what we did that week, yesterday, and so forth. 

     I had the children work in pairs to create individual month posters.  I had the children work in pencil and crayons.  I traced their writing with a sharpie.  I noticed at this school that black was used frequently to frame the writing.  I put each month on a black paper and laminated them.  Now, I am shifting my calendar board to black as well (my project for tomorrow!).

     I think they are much more beautiful than the commercial months found in calendar sets!  See!  Who needs to buy a calendar set?  Save your money and have the children make it! 

     The children created name cards for checking in every morning.  I had them write with pencil and I traced their writing with a sharpie.  Love their handwriting!

    They made their own name cards for our restroom procedure.  (Here they are all bunched up!)   They have to hang their name up to go to the restroom so I know who is out of the room.  Only one girl and one boy can be gone at one time.  This is a Responsive Classroom idea that I adore for safety.   I have other commercial posters that I am going to have the children make for me and I will post those as they are made!!

    There is such a wonderful ownership in the room when their developmental stage of handwriting (the way the letters are generated) is honored and cherished.  It brings warmth and a deep feeling of respect for children.  It moves me to see their writing instead of something from a teacher's store.  

    January 04, 2011

    No More Green Light, Yellow Light, Red Light Behavior Management Plan!

    The Safe Keeper System

    I have tried the famous Red Light Classroom Management plan that is used in classrooms across America.   (Every child begins each day on a green light.  Certain behaviors and choices will change their light to yellow or red.  Usually, yellow and red lights had consequences attached to them like loss of recess and so forth.)  As a behavior management tool, it simply did not work in helping children learn to make better choices.  It did succeed in providing consequences for misbehaving children - an important fact!  But those same children kept "misbehaving."   It was not teaching them new skills. 

    More over, it seemed to dampen the hearts of those who could not seem to control themselves.  For example, once a boy in my class slugged another child right when he got to school and was immediately put on a red light with a note going home.  He looked at me and said, "Who cares?!  It doesn't matter how I act now - I am already on red."  How true!  He had 6 hours left in school and it really did not matter what he did - he was going home with a red light!  It was an aha moment that this little fellow had no chance to save face and make better choices.  He had no opportunity to redeem himself!

    I took the Red Light system down that day.  As I reflected on what was the most important thing I wanted in my classroom I realized it was for the children to be safe physically, emotionally, and mentally.  The Red Light system could not address a child's needs on all these levels.   I created what I call the Safe Keeper System with the help of my friend, Mary Myers.  It is based on the children learning and practicing five basic life skills:

    The Five Life Skills

    Each day, I looked for the children to demonstrate these five life skills - being helpful, being careful, being respectful, being responsible and being patient.  I used my kangaroo puppet (Kinderoo) that had a baby kangaroo in its pouch.  We talked about how the job of the mother was to keep her child safe in the "safe pocket."  I told the children that their parents counted on me keeping them safe - that was my number one job!  I gave every child a library pocket to decorate as a safe pocket for their own kangaroo on a stick.  Then I decorated one as the Teacher's Safe Pocket.

    Examples of Child made safe pockets.

    The Teacher Safe Pocket
    How it works:
    When a child makes an inappropriate choice - such as running in the classroom - I would say, "Bobby, you are not being careful."  I might discuss safe behavior in the classroom.  But I would use the five life skills as the foundation of my conversation.  If a child cannot make good choices, then their kangaroo will leave their safe pocket and go into mine.  It stays there until I see that child making the right choices.  When that happens, I acknowledge the right choice and put the kangaroo back in their pocket.  "Bobby!  Look at you!  I see you walking with such care!  I see you being safe.  Your kangaroo can go back in your safe pocket."   This gives every child an opportunity to redeem themselves!  It really works!  If, let's say, a child's kangaroo keeps going into my safe pocket (or ends the day in my pocket )- then consequences are given that address the specific behavior.
    Child's kangaroo in my safe pocket.
    The Red Light method focuses on controlling children by giving punishments and consequences.  There is no capacity for a child to correct their behavior and return to a green light until the next day.   The Red Light system is based on the idea that children need to be controlled and trained.

    The Safe Pocket is based on teaching children new life skills and gives new chances in every moment to self-correct.   Young children live in the now.  They need a system that lives there with them!  The Safe Pocket system is based on the idea that children are learning and want to do the right thing.  They just don't have enough experience or support in making new choices.

    Safe Pocket System for Classroom Management:

    This packet contains everything you need to implement the Safe Pocket System.  Included are posters, lessons for presenting the system to your class, home-connection pages, and more!  There is another choice besides the Red Light, Green Light method.


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