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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Using All Your Resources

So I'm right in the middle of lesson planning when I come to a road block. Either I've already done that activity or I just can't think of anything creative. I guess a writer would call it writers block. What do I do? Easy...I use all my resources. There are plenty of resource books, blogs, and websites to get my creative juices flowing. Do I have to use their ideas? Nope but just stepping out of my own world works miracles for me. Inspiration kicks in and before I know it the ideas wont stop coming and the overflow makes me feel like a three year old playing in paint. Where do you go for inspiration? Here's just a few of my favorites...

Resource Books
  • Mailbox
  • Creative Resources
  • The Giant Encyclopedia of themes activities for children 2 to 5
There are so many resources available and so many great ones that I left out. Feel free to share you favorites with us. Hopefully, we can create a dynamic database to use, share, and enjoy. And next time you have a creative block, we'll be there to inspire you through it.

Happy Resource Hunting

Parent Participation

I've been both a working Mom and a Stay-at-Home Mom. On both sides I always felt my child's education was ultimately my responsibility and their teacher was my partner. "Our" teacher not only educates my child. She is "my" teacher too. The teacher is there to see things I can't see and to educate me in the best ways to assist educating my child. I love it when the teacher sends me a note home (good or bad). I love hearing what my girl did that day. I love when the teacher asks for my help. I feel more connected with my child when I know what's going on in her classroom. I am my happiest when I've contributed to my child's education. So that is the kind of teacher I strive to be. A teacher that keeps my parents involved, connected, and feeling confident about their child being in my classroom. How can you keep your parents involved? How would you like to be included in your child's learning experiences?

Ways to partner with your parents:

  • Send notes home
  • Send an email
  • Surprise your students/parents with a phone call
  • Create weekly/monthly newsletters
  • Create a website
  • Invite them to your class
  • Send pictures with captions on the back
  • A daily/notebook or folder brought to and form school
  • Create a bulletin board just for parents

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Stuck in the middle?

Oh wow there are certainly sometimes I hate being stuck in the middle! Like when you're friends are arguing? Or there's gossip in the workplace. You can certainly count me out. However, there are times when the middle is the perfect place for me. I recently called a colleague to rant and rave about all the wrongs I couldn't make right. While I'm no rookie at my profession I'm certainly not as seasoned as my colleague. After our conversation I was quite relieved that there was someone who knew more than I did. Her calm disposition and the assurance in her voice let me know I still have a lot to learn. As I stepped back into my classroom, there waiting for me sat a teacher less seasoned than I...waiting patiently for any knowledge and wisdom I could offer her. I was more than happy to oblige. I had a thought, being in the middle is not so bad.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Get ideas for your preschool classroom from Twitter and Facebook

Guest post by Deborah J. Stewart of Teach Preschool.

If there is one thing that I love to do is share ideas and network with others in early childhood education. I was delighted when Mrs. Myra asked me to share with you some of the online places that I use to provide preschool teachers with information and ideas they can use in their classrooms.

Teach_Preschool on Twitter
On twitter, I have an account called Teach_Preschool. On this site, I "tweet" links to various articles or activities specifically meant to bring value to the early childhood classroom such as the value of play, child development, science in the classroom, creative art, and so on. Some of my tweets are from my personal research and others are "retweets" of others like tweets from the National Association of Education for Young Children (NAEYC) or Centers and Circles.

For those of you who are not familiar with twitter, a "tweet" is a simple sentence that may or may not include a link for you to view. Most of my tweets have links so you can easily find and read more information about early childhood education. If you are new to twitter or would like more information on twitter, you can read a short article I wrote at TeachPreschoolOnline. This article will describe how to get started and it also shares a list of other people who twitter all about early childhood education.

Teach Preschool on Facebook.
Facebook is most fun because you get to see pictures - not just links. For my facebook friends and fans, I post links to creative ideas and resources you can use in the classroom. I have many teachers who check into my site on a daily basis in order to find ideas for their classrooms. Some teachers post comments or add new ideas which I love to read. I am in two places on Facebook. I have a site where you can become a "friend" or I have a page where you can become a "fan."

Whenever you are looking for Teach Preschool, just look for the teach preschool little girl you will find her on Twitter and Facebook! I hope to see you online so I can share all the wonderful and creative early childhood education ideas that are out there in the internet world with you!

Deborah (Teach Preschool)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Help! I'm drowning in stuff!

It doesn't matter if you if it's your home or your classroom. Somehow, the accumulation of stuff can be enough to clutter your space and clutter your brain. An early childhood Educator, Michele wrote to me about how parents donate things to her all the time. I can only imagine what her resource closet must look like! For a year I taught in a church part-time and managed resources part-time. Surprisingly, I grew to love sorting through the clutter from teachers and creating a home for craft supplies, construction paper, toys, books, dress up clothes, sand, sensory table toys, dolls, and doll clothes. I found the peace and quiet rewarding after a day in the classroom with busy 3-year olds and then going home to my own children. I must say I'm not sure who began the church's resources system but I've never seen another as detailed since. Unfortunately, I do not have pictures of their resource room to share with you (yet) but here are some resource ideas to keep the clutter under control and allow you to concentrate on the most important part of your day...teaching!

This is how I store my teaching items associated by month. These bins are available at Wal-Mart for $2.

My books are organized by age-appropriate content. The bottom books are board books for babies to 2 years. The next shelf is for 3-5 years. The third highest shelf is for 5 and up. The top shelf are books and resource materials for Mommy and the very top shelf we use for games (I couldn't fit it in the picture).

Here are some other ways I store...the green/red container holds my classroom Christmas tree and ornaments. One notebook hold stickers and the other is for my Centers and Circle Time business. The white crate is used for toys. The cute jar is for pen and pencils. And the pencil case is used for rocks and shells that go in my water table.

Send me your awesome storage ideas and techniques and I'll post them.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What the heck is age-appropriate anyway?

I walked into a 2-year old classroom today and there were four bean bags. How adorable and soft they looked. They were strategically placed in a semi-circle as if a group of students would gather there at any moment. Fortunately, someone else picked them up to inspect the tags. The tags were clearly marked for 13 and up! Yikes! Once we squeezed the bags we realized the filling inside was small pieces of some foam-like material. If the bag was punctured a young child could easily choke on these small pieces. Fortunately for us, we don't have any students. Age-appropriate refers to materials, toys, videos, games and even furniture. Remember to read labels and instructions before introducing new items to your children.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Establishing Centers in "My Sad Class"

After posting "My Sad Class" on my blog the other day, my friend from Teach Preschool added it to her blog and WOW what responses! The Early Childhood Educators on her page had plenty to say about my sad class! To my enjoyment I was delighted so many educators shared my great passion! Yesterday, while everyone was home sending ideas, comments, and responses, I was a busy bee pulling everything off the walls (with the help of two teachers) and moving all the furniture so I could actually see what I had to work with. My space is beautiful and I love it. However, my furniture and materials are limited. You'll notice in the pictures, I brought some of my favorite pictures and posters to add to the wall. By any means am I done, but I wanted to share with you how it was coming together so far. Be sure to post your ideas, comments and responses below.

Surprisingly, where the Center is located we were told we are unable to get any Internet access. Our only options right now are to get dial-up (yuck) or hope the owners fork over money to have a tower built (I doubt that's going to happen). If you have any ideas on any other options we might have I'd really appreciate it. It'd be nice to read your comments on my break or at lunch then I can have all of you with me while I work:)

Monday, November 30, 2009

My Sad Class

Take a journey with me in setting up my classroom. Fortunately, I have almost everything I need to be successful. However, it's clearly not all in place. The person who set up this classroom was clearly not an Early Childhood Educator. I was told they did just enough to satisfy the Department of Children and Families. Here's what my new classroom looks like. Can you tell what's wrong with this picture? I'll be making the necessary improvements over the next few weeks, with your help of course:) I'll keep you posted on the results.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Helping to build an Early Childcare Program

What a great Thanksgiving vacation! And it's back to work! My business with Centers and Circle Time is moving slowly. On the other hand, my new teaching and building position will begin tomorrow. Since the "Early Childhood Development Center" will be building this program from the ground up, it's unlikely I'll have a class for a few months. My days will probably be filled with preparing for inspections, ITERS & ETERS review, and brushing up on my VPK standards. But yeeah for a paying position:)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Business of Centers and Circle Time

When I'm not loving on my students in the classroom, I'm entertaining at playgroups, birthday parties, grand openings, and bookstores. My little business "Centers and Circle Time" allows me to take my favorite parts of the preschool day and share them with clients in an hour or so. I recently had the priveledge of working a birthday party for a set of twins, Noah and Leah at a playplace in Casselberry called AmayaPapaya. Since the party was a jungle theme, I wore a safari scrub top (by Baby Phat), earth toned jewlery by "Little Miss Market", downloaded safari related music, and brought my puppet monkey Moe. It was so incredibly cute and we had a blast!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Creating a portfolio

Some time ago, my Early Childhood Instructor advised me to keep a professional portfolio. This portfolio has changed and evolved over the years since I first started. But, it has become instrumental in landing some great opportunities. Lately, I had a desire to assist in opening a new facility. I have never been apart of a project like this except for my own Family Child Care Program. However, I was confident my teaching abilities, background, and love for children would give me a great competitive edge. Here's where my portfolio pushed me right over the top. I updated my portfolio and made a few minor adjustments. On the day I was to meet with the director, I boldly placed my portfolio on the table and thumbed through it as we chatted over the outlook of the program. Towards the end, we discussed Iters and Ecers and I pulled out my latest scores to merely give her an example of what they would be looking for in a program:) Before I left, I was shown around the building and classrooms. She called me on my drive home to tell me how happy she was to meet me. I was certain I was to be apart of this project!

My portfolio is a small notebook with already attached clear sleeves for top-loading papers. It was less than $6 at Office Depot.

Here's what I have in my portfolio:
-My updated resume (so copies can be made from it if needed)
-A page of references (professional & personal)
-My State of Florida Education Certificates
-My CPR and First Aid cards
-Pages from Early Childhood magazines I've been featured in
-Copies of my latest lesson plans
-Copies of my latest classroom newsletter
-Cards/notes/letters from parents
-Recent Evaluations/Scores

Thursday, November 19, 2009

And it begans...

There is a tingling sensation in your stomach when you start something new. I guess you can call it butterflies? Although, I have blogged before today will be the first day I am blogging about my love. I am currently a Preschool Teacher. My favorite parts of the day are Circle Time and Learning Centers. During Circle Time I'm able to tell stories, sing songs, do fingerplays and teach! During my Learning Centers I tend to go all out creating Learning Centers that mimick real life situations. I've built a McDonalds, a Publix, and even a Doctors office in one of my centers. It is such a joy to see the children go in and imitate real life situations. Come journey with me, and be apart of the growth of Centers and Circle Time as it unfolds into a masterpiece.