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August 4, 2017

Classroom Inspiration – (Guest Post by Heidi’s “Teacher Daughter!”)

Classroom Inspiration! Guest Post from Heidi's Teacher Daughter



So what’s it like to go from “teacher kid” to teacher?  And then wind up teaching the very same grade as your mother??  And THEN give your super creative mom a run for her money in the artistic zone of classroom setup, classroom management, and more?  Well here is a little peek into my youngest daughter’s TK classroom!  This will be her fourth year teaching, and no surprise- she already seems to be a pro!  As my only child that chose teaching as a career path, I have enjoyed every minute of watching the process unfold.  She went from Kindergarten aide to a highly sought after sub on emergency credential, to student teacher, to a teacher in her own classroom in record time!  And now, just take a look at the classroom environment she has created.  It looks so great, I think I might be a wee bit jealous!  And she did it all with my adorable little grandson on her hip!  Just check it out.  



It’s almost here! The anticipation of a brand new school year has arrived! Seeing those names on your class list for the first time, the incredible satisfaction of all those freshly laminated materials… My favorite part though would have to be preparing my classroom for the year ahead. It could have something to do with growing up as a teacher’s kid. I have so many fond memories of spending summers in my mom’s classroom helping her get things ready. I’m not sure how helpful I actually was, but it sure was fun! This year I had a little bit of extra time to imagine what my classroom would look like for the brand new year, I welcomed a baby boy in February and was lucky enough to be able to take the remainder of the school year for maternity leave! Over the summer I decided to take things slow and come in once or twice per week to work in my classroom, rather than all at once at the very end. Call me crazy, but as a new mom I actually enjoyed those days alone with the music turned way up, focused and in the zone getting things ready!



There’s something so magical to me about setting the stage for learning. Now, don’t get me wrong, having a “pretty” classroom is most certainly not the most important thing to focus on. Each summer, before I even touch the bulletin boards and borders, I spend several weeks preparing and planning-sifting through curriculum and taking a critical look at what needs to be changed before the new year begins. The physical decorating happens only after all the nitty gritty is finished. I also acknowledge that not everyone has the luxury of time in their classroom. I know plenty of amazing teachers who have only days to prepare before students arrive. My point is, whether your classroom is a Pinterest board in the flesh, or the same tried and true borders and butcher paper you have been using for years, the way your classroom looks is not and should not be the defining factor of your teaching.



Personally, one of the reasons I spend so much time on my classroom during the summer is for my own sanity. I spend hours upon hours in this room during the school year and I need it to be a place I actually want to spend time in! I also enjoy creating a calming and brain-friendly environment for my littles. Many of my students are leaving home for the first time and this is the first classroom they will experience. I want it to be a happy and non-threatening place to be in! All that being said, welcome to room 1!

First stop on our tour is my entryway!



While shopping for borders, I found these cute puzzle pieces from our local teacher supply store, CM, and each child’s name will go on a puzzle piece. I use di-cut letters for just about everything in my classroom and my absolute favorite tool is my cricut. It is a game changer if you are like me and prefer to have something different from the stock di-cut machine font in the workroom at school. It takes time just like any other di-cut machine, but I think the end result is definitely worth it! It can also be used for other fun various shapes and pictures, as you’ll see later on. Each title takes me about three sheets of 12×12 construction paper, and this year I just used whatever was leftover in my room from the last school year. For my student work display wall, I used more leftover construction paper, and these 12×12 page protectors to keep everything in place when the door is open and as little hands and frequently walk by. Those green and blue tubs are for student lunchboxes, one for each of my classes, morning and afternoon. Finally, my sit spots are my favorite secret for teaching the littles to make a straight line! Everyone takes the spot directly behind the person in front of us and we are on our way as quickly as those four and five year old bodies can be ready.



This workstation is a new area for me this year. Originally I had only the table, lamp, and stools in this spot, but I decided to replace the bookcases that previously held toys in the playhouse and it came together nicely! This workstation usually houses some sort of independent activity during centers. Dramatic play, listening center, fine motor skills, floor work, etc. I have them work on their Hidden Alphabet coloring worksheets here! It also works well for a space away from the rest of the group if I have a parent helper working with a student, or if someone needs to finish something independently. The flowers were completely freehand, but I will eventually use this wall space for student work as it is completed. One thing you’ll notice in my classroom is that I like to create distinct areas of my using specific colors and borders. I feel that this helps my students become more aware of the task at hand as well as the expected and appropriate behavior in each area. My classroom was not originally built to be a kindergarten classroom so I have found that this helps tremendously to create unique spaces for various learning experiences.





I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I am lucky enough to be part of an amazing school district that values early childhood education and, in turn, PLAY! This awesome little kitchen unit, was in the room when I moved in. If you were to take a poll of the kiddos favorite spot in our class, our playhouse would be at the top of the list! Even the boys love to use their imaginations, dress up and join in on the fun daily. I purchased the toy storage shelf and storage bench from Ikea, and I am still working on building up this area with items that developmentally rich but also durable enough to withstand everyday “love”. A lot of my playhouse finds come from the dollar store, but I’m always looking for donations of dolls and other playhouse appropriate toys to add to the collection. The shapes were a last minute freehand decision to spice up the empty walls a tad, before the students’ work is available to put up.



Next up, my calendar wall, which really is my home base for most of the day. This is where all of my whole group instruction takes place, and where students go automatically during transitions. I’m always curious to see different teacher’s calendar routines, especially with the littles. What are your favorite ways to keep your students engaged with whole group practice and calendar time? The flashcard holder you see is from Amazon, and my adorable calendar set came from the dollar spot at Target a few years back!



Most of the time, this area is the place where I will lead small group activities during centers. This spot has easy access to center storage, and gives me the ability to keep an eye on the rest of the class doing independent work at the same time. This is where I store worksheets, like Counting Creatures worksheets! The adorable crayon box was made with help from my sister in law using a donut box covered in construction paper! Each child’s name will go on a crayon once my class list is finalized.





Our toy shelf is another area I’m always looking to add to. Each day we have a time of “Unplugged Play”, where students are able to explore and learn through play. One day I will set aside some funds to find myself some Lincoln Logs, Magna Tiles and all of those fun things, but my oh my these things add up, don’t they?! Luckily, the little ones typically aren’t picky and are pretty happy with what I have! Some of their favorite activities include our legos, big blocks, trains, linking chains and magnets.



Pictured below, you’ll also see my student library area, along with a very large whiteboard that I have not yet been able to find a great use for, considering its placement in the room. This is where my Wiggles puppet sits. I use him to reinforce the rules, especially during the first week of school! The cute little couch is from Lakeshore a few years back, and was provided to me by the school, and the schedule pocket chart is another Amazon gem.





The last stop on our tour, my desk and our birthday wall! I had so much fun with these two areas this year. I may have gone just a tad overboard in the dollar spot at Target, pretty much everything you see is a dollar spot find! I will be adding pictures of my family and friends pictures and of course there’s always room to hang the masterpieces gifted to me each day by my students!



My birthday wall inspiration is a mashup of several different pictures I came across on Pinterest. I simply placed a thumb tack inside each bag to hold it in place, and stuck some tissue paper inside! Student names will be going on the outside of each bag so we know who to celebrate every month. So easy and simple!



Thanks for joining me on a tour of room 1! I am itching with excitement for the year ahead and cannot wait to see all of the learning that takes place within these walls. What is your favorite spot in your classroom? I would love to learn from you and see the spaces you have created!



Here are some recommendations for the beginning of the school year!!



Our Wiggles’ Listening Centers are PERFECT for introducing classroom rules and expected behaviors as well as reinforcing them through out the year! We also sell full size versions of these books.



This DVD (or CD) is full of concepts and behaviors that are essential for classroom management! “Backpack Boogie” and “Snap that Cap” are just a few! We have posters and print outs that go along with some of the main concepts.



Our Sing & Spell the Sight Words DVDs, volumes 1-6, are ALL animated now!! We sell these in bundles as well as individually!






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