2014 Classroom Tips

Getting ready for the New Year?  It is great to have a new beginning filled with new possibilities. For the past few years, I have shared a list of new ideas that might jump start your work with children for the New Year.  This year I will share 14.  Some of these ideas might be new, but others may have been forgotten.  Let’s make 2014 the best year for you and your children!

  1. Sing more with your children. Sing at circle time and during transitions.  They can be theme related, or action songs.  Music lights up children’s brains through the process of participating, using words, and listening to sounds. Children also build a lifetime repertoire of familiar songs.  (Be watching for an exciting announcement for my new CD release in the late spring).

  2. Find a new book to read aloud to your children.  This new book will reignite you and your students love of literature.  Storytime enriches vocabulary, and provides a message/moral that leads to very interesting discussions.

  3. Record child/children reading a familiar book.  Add that book and the child’s taped reading to the library center.  Allow your new reader to become familiar with the library center, and watch what happens.

  4. Get active.  Have you had large beach balls in your classroom or outdoor area recently?  These low cost, soft, easy to catch balls will engage children in throwing, and passing.  We need to encourage more gross physical activity for the development of the body and brain.

  5. Propagate a plant.  Some plants that are easy to root and grow are: Airplane Plant, and some vines like Wandering Jew.  This experience will help children see how plants can be produced by placing leaves or cuttings in potting soil or water.  A clear bottle or cup allows the children to see the roots grow.

  6. Create a photography album. This album should include pictures of the children involved in activities within the classroom.  Be sure that all children are included in the album with their names, and that learning is occurring.   This becomes a very popular book for all to enjoy, and expand upon during the spring.

  7. Add a new center.  For example, a Fitness Center to get in shape for the New Year. You can find the vocabulary, design, props, and literacy connections, in my Complete Learning Center Book, Revised.  A web is also included to show how the learning is integrated into all areas of the curriculum.

  8. Include open-ended materials in all centers.  This encourages creative thinking and problem solving.  Young children are very creative, and simple materials can spark hundreds of ideas.  Some possibilities include:  scraps of shiny fabric, coffee filters, pieces of foil, electrical wire, brown wrapping paper, interesting color and designs of masking tape, a variety of papers, and tools for writing that are unusual.  I know this list will get your creative juices flowing as you identify many other open-ended possibilities!

  9. Creating rings, bracelets, and other finery for dress up.  Pipe cleaners can work as the foundation. Use beads, wire, stars, contact paper, etc.  These creations can also become decorations on clothes or shoes in home living.

  10. Add sticky notes to encourage writing. Young children are fascinated by sticky notes, and they love to write on them to leave messages.  These can be added to Home Living, Art Studio, Library Center or other appropriate places in your classroom.  Be sure to include magic markers, colored pencils, or chalk to inspire writers.

  11. Develop a group project to encourage cooperation and working together.  Put a large sheet of butcher paper on a wall (be sure to put a sheet of plastic underneath).  Choose a topic or theme that is interesting and appropriate for the season or your studies.  For example, “What do we do in winter?” “What do we see outdoors when it is cold?”   Children can add drawings or pictures of ideas that they want to share.  This group drawing can be added to over several weeks, with children including other thoughts over time.

  12. Dramatize a familiar/favorite story.  Creative dramatics is so appropriate with young children.  There is no memorized text, or exact words that are to be spoken.   The steps in the process are:   Read a story to the children that has a few characters and lots of action. (Two of my favorites are The Gingerbread Man and The Gigantic Turnip).  Reread the story another day and talk with the children about the characters and sequence of the action.  Later, read the story again to familiarize the children with the content.  Next, let the children chose the part they would like to play.   If they just want to watch, the audience is very important too.  Guide the actors through the story as they speak the words they want. Many times they want to do it again, or other children will want to try out the parts.  This is a non-pressure, relaxed and enjoyable literacy experience.  Try it, and you will be amazed at their abilities.

  13. Find a comfortable chair for you to sit in.  Add this special chair to the circle/community meeting area.  You deserve to have a place where you can sit comfortably.

  14. Compliment another teacher or staff member.  During this New Year, it is important to remember that not just children need encouragement, adults do too.  Take a moment to let another teacher know what great work they are doing, and be specific about what you saw and admired.   You both will feel better because of this compliment.

 

Have a wonderful 2014!

Dr.Isbell