So it has been a little while since I have been on but I have had a crazy preschool schedule…..when is summer? Anyway I wanted to touch base on something that I found out while researching cleaners in August for my in-home preschool. I always hated bleach, clorox, and piney cleaners. The smells make me nauseous and my skin terribly itchy. While researching I was appalled to find out that the government does not regulate these essential items that we have in our homes and Lysol is the worse with ingredients leading to cancer..Yikes!!!! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6m1dvJFzig&feature=youtu.be) Just like many people, I felt like the government would have companies uphold higher/safer standards but unfortunately that is not the case. Now this is not an attack on government but it did worry me at what to use in my home and around the kids that would be here. Thankfully I found a company that does make safer cleaners and all around safer products for the home. I have never been so happy with a scrubbing cleaner like I am now..I can honestly say when the company guarantees no scrubbing required they mean it and now I smile, spray, and wash away the grime….knocked my cleaning time down to 20 seconds..HOORAY!!!! Many people have asked me if it kills the common cold germs and my answer is this…I have had no preschool illnesses to date so I feel safe in answering yes it does. Be proactive and find out what you are using around your loved ones…you might be surprised…… Here is another interesting link about two cleaners that children should stay away from altogether… they have been known to cause delays….. www.deseretnews.com/article/865617835/Study-finds-association-between-everyday-chemicals-and-your-childs-IQ.html
As a preschool teacher/ owner I do not have a lot of extra money to play around with every 2 months when my kids grow weary of a center. So what do I do? I look around the house for odds and ends that I can blend into a fun play area for my preschool kiddos.
This center cost me 4 dollars 😉 I had some stuffed animals laying around and found some pics from the web. I bought two doctor sets and two baskets from the dollar tree to add some realism in the children’s play. Every kid loves to play doctor.
For the sensory table I used some stickers and clothespins I had in my class and spent a dollar at the dollar tree for the coin wrappers to encourage the kids to look at everyday objects for shape fitting… (ex.) circle stickers of small or medium size can fit into coin wrapper. Simple but effective sensory area for small kiddos.
This area was made with a little help from my older daughter. She was growing out of some clothes so instead of donating them I borrowed them for a laundry center. Had some extra clothespins and string in my classroom for a laundry line and presto….laundry center;) This helps the kids with sorting clothes by what kind of clothing, size, and color. Also helps with fine motor because they are working to hang them on the line with the clothespins.
I hope this helps others to not only find things for achieving the center goals but also does not cost a fortune to setup.
Preschoolers need science just as much as older children do. At least once a month I try to give my preschoolers a way to watch something and ask questions such as why is that happening or what happens when I mix things together? These activities really helps preschoolers learn new concepts and start to develop the want of exploration. Now many people will try to make these tasks harder than they need to be….. breathe, relax and stay focused on what you really want them to learn from the activity.
I will be sharing three noncomplicated science activities that I have done with my preschoolers, they were very easy and many of my preschoolers asked the questions that started with why, what, or how. I just let them do the activities, ask the questions, and we talked about what was taking place. Very easy and by the end you can pat your back and walk away feeling like a #1 preschool teacher;)
First Activity– Washing/ Polishing Rocks
I found some very dirty rocks in my backyard. Gave the children some towels and bowls of water. The children began dumping the rocks in the water and watching them for a second before using the towel to polish them dry. While this was going on I received questions like why does my scrubbing help the rock shine? Or does the water help the rock stay clean after I dry it? This activity was very enjoyable for all involved…..
Second Activity– Exploding Color w/ Milk
Supplies for this is a few small bowls of milk, dish liquid soap (Dawn), food coloring, and cotton swabs. I put the bowl of milk in front of each students then gave them each a turn to squeeze a few drops of food coloring in the milk. Then I gave them each a cotton swab that I had dipped into the dish liquid. The chemical reaction made the food coloring look like a firework in the milk. It was a neat reaction to watch plus the kids just looked mesmerized by what took place. The one question I got over and over was how did the milk do that? This was a kids choice activity to do over again;)
Third Activity– Water transfer using paper towel
Supplies needed for this is two cups, paper towel, water in one cup, and food coloring. This experiment takes a long time to produce results. For many preschoolers they do not want to wait and see they want “do it and see” so I suggest that you put it together as a class then put the experiment out of the way but in view so the kids could go back and forth checking on it. We talked about what will happen while setting it up which gave the kids time to ask their how and why questions. In the end this experiment was not only enjoyed by the kids but they took their parents (at pickup) to show them this “totally awesome” (in their words) experiment. This gave the parents the opportunity to ask the children the why and how questions which allowed the kids to play teacher and explain to the parents what was taking place. Loved this activity because of the parent involvement;)
These past few weeks my little preschool class has been talking about all sorts of weather changes and outdoor things (such as rocks and bugs). Both of these topics has spurred a little creativity in trying to teach the kiddos about boring cloud formations and how rocks are formed. As one may have figured out (if you spend anytime with kids) these topics bring on more groans and eye rolling than anything else. So it was up to me to bring on the science experiments…..but what to do?????
For the rain clouds I came up with an idea to show the kids how the rain might look like if we could bottle a cloud. I got small glass cups with wide tops and filled them halfway with water. Then I put shaving cream on the top of the water and lastly several drops of blue food coloring. It took a few minutes for the bigger cloud (aka big drop of shaving cream) to look like a productive rain storm but eventually it worked like a charm. Also as the kids were waiting for the big finish on this experiment they had blue paper, small cups of water, and a straw which was used for making raindrops on the paper. They loved making big drops and waving the straw around the paper to look like streaks.
Please note that if you use a small drop of shaving cream then don’t over do the blue food coloring. As you can see that was what I did and the small cup looks more like a wash out than a nice rainstorm.
For the rock week I stumbled across a website about making your own rocks… (http://www.fantasticfunandlearning.com/books-about-rocks-for-young-kids.html)
Because I am less of “following directions” and more of a “let me do it” kind of teacher I did my own size estimations which still turned out pretty good. I gave each child a small cup with 4 pebbles and two spoonfuls of sand (I used sandbox sand which worked really well). First step was to put the 4 pebbles in the bottom of the cup and pour glue over all the pebbles. It was better to completely cover the pebbles so the bottom of the rock looked firm. Then the children put the sand on top of the pebbles/ glue and then I poured a second helping of glue on top of the sand. Again making sure to cover the whole thing of sand. I put the cups in a sunny place for two days then I cut off the cup and placed them on paper to dry the rest of the way. It will take about a week for this to be finished but the kiddos loved checking the progress of their rocks everyday.When they completely dry out I will cut the glue edges off and let them take their rock creations home. Also while we were doing this activity I had the kids listen to a song about different types of rocks. It was a very neat way to try and introduce how the rocks were formed… eerrrr minus the glue of course:)
Loving what I received in the mail 🙂
I wanted to touch base on a controversial issue in the classroom which is class size. Many people have argued that it just simply doesn’t matter how big classes are in preschool up to 5th grade. To me I have always felt like class size does matter for both teacher and student. I have worked in many situations from public schools to child care settings that offer private preschool and I have found that if the class keeps growing it not only stresses out teacher but also the children. Plus most of your time is focused on managing the class not teaching the class. A story that I use for parents is one of my past experiences when talking about too many children in a classroom. I had planned a wonderful art/ science activity for preschoolers in making a heart and seeing how it pumps the blood through your body. When I started the activity I had 10 children which was doable for me but towards the middle my class grew to 15 children. During this time, kids kept squeezing on the table knocking off work and some were running around touching walls while I tried to control table chaos. I closed the activity without it being done and sent the children to centers so I could clean. Not only was I frustrated over all the events, some of the children that really wanted to see the activity through were in tears wanting to finish. It was a sad morning for the classroom…… I did finish it during nap time as promised then shown the children the heart in its glory. I felt like if my class didn’t continue to grow and upset the rest of my class then my 10 students could have stayed engaged and finished the project themselves, I felt like they could have gotten more out of it.
With this past experience in my head I set out to search the web for papers and studies to back up my feelings about small class size. I found a wonderful site (http://www.classsizematters.org/research-and-links/ ) that had lots of links to different findings about class size mattering to preschool and kindergarten classes. My favorite one was Does Class Size Matter? by Schanzenbach, D.W. (http://www.classsizematters.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/207632499-Pb-Class-Size.pdf ) One thing in particular was how low income children excelled in smaller classes and some children followed up to 3rd grade had higher test scores in schools. It amazed me that this could be such a huge impact for children. Even though I knew the importance of this issue from my own personal accounts it still amazed me. I encourage everyone to look this research up and help the future classrooms stay in small ratio.
On a personal note I am super excited that our preschool offers lower class size as one of our many perks 🙂
So I had some time this week to get back on the computer and work my magic with the keyboard. Since opening my preschool I have had a lot of questions from family and friends about the look/layout of my preschool. I don’t think it would have been an issue but peoples’ curiosity was up due to the fact that I have a small apartment (basement style). And many people think of basement style cringing with what it might look like so I decided to write this blog to show people that small spaces can be achieved for preschool rooms. I have even found the space to be relaxing because children can not run through the area. Blessings to my ears:)
So without further ado here is my quick tutorial of how a small space can be a wonderful classroom—–
I struggled for a while with room arrangement. I needed it to look kid friendly but also like a learning center for parents. But how to squeeze 6 or 7 centers into a small living room space. I decided to not label the centers like you would in a pre-k class with a child care center or school district instead I found that the sky was the limit since I am a private pre-k. I made my brick area, which was around my entertainment center, into my reading nooks. I made a small car, lego, tool bench and animal area all in one, which did look nice after my initial “seriously what am I thinking” reaction. My dramatic play went into a corner area with a tent, kitchen set, and dress up clothes hanging on a coat rack within child’s reach. On the far side of my living room away from the nice size window I have I made small/large manipulative area, art, and music all in one. Below are some pictures to help you visualize my ideas:
Oh and I should mention that off to the side of my one reading nook the blue and green bucket has beans in it for the kids free play sensory area. As you can see in the pictures, I have used small furniture in order to give the room a larger feel to it. Ikea has these wonderfully small tables that I used in making this setup be at the child level.
My next hurtle was where they would eat and I have a very small dining room that feels more like a closet than a dining area. So what was the next logical step for us—- throw out the dining table and make the space into a welcoming area for the parents and a eating area for the children. My cubbies for children are located by the entrance in a nice corner area, along with the small child friendly level coat rack. on the other side I put a little sitting area using 2 of my living room chairs and my lovely plant that I have not killed yet. This area could be for a parent signing up or waiting for child to get their belongings at the end of the day. At the opposite corner of this area I set up a parent corner for menu, daily schedule, and weekly lesson plan. Right beside the parent corner I have placed rolled up beach mats for them to nap on. These are wonderful and can be found at Sam’s Club. My kids love them and they sleep on them really well. Plus the mats have a built in head rest which is a bonus for my kids.
Please forgive me for not showing the mat area but honestly I have not found a nice storage system for them yet. When I do I will definitely update everyone on what I found.
I hope you enjoyed my little tour and explanation of area space for a small (preschool) house setup. And I look forward to comments if any of this information helped you in setting up a small class or play area in your own home. I am posting one last picture on a child’s level because I just absolutely love the shot but outdoor space will be on a future blog…. until next time:)