Inside: How to set up your preschool or Kindergarten classroom. Ideas and organization that will help child-led learning. This post will also help parents better understand what to look for in a new class.
Curious what I look for in a Kindergarten classroom?
Whether it is the beginning of August and you are attending Open House, or if it is April and you are touring for the following school year, take a look around and keep these considerations in mind.
You may walk into the classroom awaiting colorful posters and the alphabet perfectly glued to the walls without one single space of white left in the room.
The alphabet may also be waaaaaay up high to border the top of the wall.
Parents want to see a welcoming classroom, yet sometimes, you can find classrooms where parts of the walls are still bare. (before the first day of school)
An undecorated classroom could be a good thing!
Why Could an Unfinished Classroom Be A Good Thing?
For one, children remember what they create.
If children walk into a room filled with store bought posters and catchy phrases, they may think it looks nice, but are they reading it?
Did they notice that the poster has verbs in red and consonants in black?
Parents, do you notice the messages hanging in your office, or do you remember the ones that you and your team had created? The same concept goes for children regardless if it is their first day of preschool or their last year of fifth-grade.
Again, Children remember what they create.
Now, picture yourself in a room filled with student-created alphabet letters and posters made by the students in the classroom based on a previous lesson.
You see, the walls may be bare upon arrival, but will soon fill up with completed classwork. (If it is towards the end of the school year, take a look at the walls in the classroom. Are they filled with print outs, or child led drawings that are used in conversations?)
Better yet, children in these classrooms understand how to refer to their completed classwork that is posted throughout as extensions of what will continue to be taught.
This is the classroom I personally hope my child is placed in.
How you can set up child led learning in your classroom or playspace for your home:
Begin by writing each letter on white paper.
Hand each student a letter to decorate with objects that begin with that same letter. Laminate, and hang.
If you are working on one letter a week at home, add illustrations as the week continues. Begin with the first letter of your preschooler’s name.
The children created it, so they are more likely to use it.
Now hang it at their EYE LEVEL.
Post your daily schedule and routines by creating picture cards.
Print pictures of different activities that happen each day, and label them with your preschooler or class.
Remember, children work best when you do things together. Together, pick a couple pictures to focus on and label.
You can label your routines by the time of day or sequence them by labeling 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.
Here, I hot glued clothespins to the wall to display routine cards.
No time to make these? You will love The Mama Workshop’s task cards.
Give each child an index card with their name and birthdate on it.
Allow students to decorate the card with their favorite items and colors. This will automatically help you better understand a child’s personality, and allow their classmates to learn more about what they like.
Hang the birthday cards in order. Begin with January. This could also be used as a lesson teaching sequential order and sorting. Many students will have birthdays in the same month.
Do you homeschool?
Post the birthdays of close friends and family!
Now hang it at their EYE LEVEL.
Give each student a color and a variety of shades for the color word. Have the student decorate the color poster with those colors.
Again, begin by writing each number on a card or 8×10 piece of paper.
Allow each student to take a card and draw the number of objects to match the number. Put the letters in sequential order and hang.
Preschool may be a larger paper 1-10 and first grade may be index cards on a pocket chart that gradually increases throughout the year as the class better understands number recognition. 1-100
In the picture above, my preschoolers are working together to make our 1-10 posters using pom poms. Remeber here the key is to touch to count.
Again, hang it at their EYE LEVEL.
Once your preschooler understands the value of a number, they may also enjoy this number game with dominoes.
Are you on Instagram? If so, you need to check out Fairy Dust Teaching’s Calendar time. I recently did an Instagram live and shared this brilliant technique.
Another great article to break away from “traditional” calendar time is by Teach Preschool. You need to read this!
Remember, learning resources need to have a purpose.
Set up your home or classroom for your preschooler to dive in and fully engage. There is nothing more engaging than child made resources. They will take ownership and will remember more.
You will also enjoy our Preschool Alphabet Cards that require limited supplies and are easily created at home.
See our favorite school supplies with these Amazon Affiliate links:
You can find our favorite Alphabet Supplies here.