Travelling Tuesday....with Carmelina Digrigoli

We are going on an adventure today into one of the most beautiful and inspiring classrooms I discovered online earlier this school year.
Carmelina Digrigoli is a Full Day Kindergarten teacher with the York Region District School Board and author of the blog:
When I examine the pictures Carmelina posts of her students in action, learning and playing, I am in awe of the materials she has chosen, her learning environment and how much fun not only her students are having, but she is, too!
This is a picture of the Classroom Inquiry Learning Web from September to June.  I know that by showcasing and having students involved in their learning, it brings meaning to what we, as educators, are doing.  This learning web is not only a valuable tool for the parents and guests in Carmelina's classroom, but her students can reflect upon where their learning has gone and is going.  I am certainly going to take this idea of creating an ongoing learning web with my students this coming school year.
This is the main atelier workshop where art becomes the curriculum and all materials are accessible.  It's also the main space of the classroom.
Isn't it so inviting?

These students are painting under a tree!
Learning doesn't always take place inside the classroom, after all!

Here's a picture of a construction site using blocks and loose parts...not only are the students offered a variety of blocks to build and explore with, it is located near the atelier so art, drama, and tinkering with loose parts are encouraged.

Lots and lots of tinkering materials for make it and break it play.
Imagine all of the possibilities here!

This is where the "Beautiful Stuff" is housed.  Here students can search for that perfect piece for their creation!

All of the loose parts are neatly arranged so that it's not only visually appealing but also easy for students to take, use and put away once they are finished.
So many students love creating with loose parts!

Please share an insight...
"Inspiration does exist, but it must find us working."
~Pablo Picasso
"As educators, we begin to prepare our minds and bodies for back to school, we wonder what we need, what we should collect, what will we do differently this school year, and how we will setup our classrooms.  I prefer to use the term 'design' in place of setup.  To design our learning environments considers space and opportunity for growth, that it will indeed change and will transform and grow with the students' interests and learning outcomes.  Let's embrace our bare September walls and prepare for endless learning opportunities and authentic classroom transformations."
For more inspiring ideas please visit Carmelina's blog!
Do you have a classroom that encompasses the same philosophies and beliefs about emergent curriculum as we do?

We would love to feature your blog/website for an upcoming Travelling Tuesday!

Please leave a comment below with a link to your site.

Thanks for travelling with us this week!

Travelling Tuesday...with Mrs. Myers' Kindergarten!

Anamaria and I are back for another Travelling Tuesday!
This week Anamaria takes a peek into the classroom of Darla Myers...
Click on the picture above to take you Anamaria's blog and read all about it!
Do you have a classroom that encompasses the same philosophies and beliefs about emergent curriculum as we do?
We would love to feature your blog/website for an upcoming Travelling Tuesday!
Please leave a comment below with a link to your site.
Thanks for travelling with us this week!

The "Snack" Table -> How it works...

In our classroom, our students are immersed in play.
They can choose to explore and build on the carpet with a variety of blocks and materials (tubes, tin cans, pinecones, etc.), they can create sculptures using Playdough, they can paint at our Art Centre, they can write with a variety of tools and materials at the Writing Centre, and so much more!
And they can eat snack...whenever they like.
Yes, you read that right. 
As part of our self-regulated day, we encourage students to make decisions that they feel most comfortable with. 
When they are hungry, they simply take their lunch bag and sit at the snack table and eat a snack.
Most of them even invite another friend to join them!
We have 2 large, open blocks of time, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon, so our schedule lends itself well.
This year I am excited to try having 3 small round tables set up as a "Bistro" for the students to enjoy snack.  They can invite a friend and chat while eating.
(I was so lucky that my principal purchased us these round tables back in June!  It truly helps when your administration is completely on board and believes in the Full Day Kindergarten program!)
For the past few years, I used a large 6-seater table as our Snack Table.
This worked really well too!
The small basket you see in the middle holds scissors, straws and cutlery in case they need to use any of them.  I try and have my students be as independent as possible, or they can ask a friend to help.
How do I know if they ate?
We don't use a checklist or way to tell that they have had their snack.
I truly believe that when they are hungry they will eat!
I remember when my daughter was a baby, I asked the pediatrician why she wouldn't eat any snacks!  He used to tell me the same thing...when she is hungry she will let you know.
Sometimes I have students eat a couple of snacks in the morning or afternoon, depending on how hungry they are.
A few students this past year attended the Before School Program from about 7 am.
They would eat breakfast at home beforehand and by 8:30 am, when they entered my classroom, they were famished!
Snack was their first stop!
Other students eat breakfast literally as they are walking to school so they aren't as hungry first thing and prefer to eat a little later on.
Some don't like to eat snack in the morning at all!
I encourage everyone to eat when they are hungry.  We often remind students to "listen to their tummy" and eat if they choose.  But I don't force anyone.
Other classrooms I have seen do monitor who has eaten and who has not eaten snack.
Here are a few ways of doing that...
- Magnetic names -> create magnetic names for each student in your class and post (a filing cabinet works well).  Students can move their name to the bottom, or put it in a basket, once they have finished eating.
- Rocks -> write each child's name on a rock and scatter around the middle of the table.  Once a child has eaten snack, he/she can move his rock inside the basket.
- Popsicle Sticks -> write each student's name on a popsicle stick and place them in a can in the middle of the table.  After eating snack, students can find his/her name and place it into an empty can beside on in a nearby spot.
How do I monitor what they eat?
This takes a while and truly starts from home.  We encourage healthy eating at our school and try to reinforce this message with parents.
At our Open House in early September, we explain the Snack Table and give parents ideas on what kind of snacks to pack.
We also encourage parents to label each snack...
#1 is for morning snack
#2 is lunch
 #3 is afternoon snack.
During the first few weeks at school, a lot of time is spent by both educators in the classroom showing students how to choose something to eat (so that you don't have students eating their sandwich at 9 am!).
Why won't I go back to whole group snack?
Well, if you have tried having a Snack Table in your room you will know that it frees up at least half an hour that you can work with your students.  When you have to stop and have all the students clean up, wash their hands, sit down and eat, it can take a LONG time!  By having a few eat whenever they want to, you can spend more time interacting with the others at play.
If you are still a little unsure as to trying a Snack Table in your classroom, here's what I say.
Try it for a week.
It might work out beautifully, it might take time to get used to (for both you and your students!), it might not work if your schedule is not as flexible and you don't have large, open blocks of time.
Bon Appetite!

Travelling Tuesday....Let's Go!

 Welcome to the first week of Travelling Tuesday!
I am so excited to be hosting with Anamaria Ralph, from Wonders in Kindergarten.
The two of us will be featuring a classroom blog each week that embraces emergent curriculum...
"Emergent curriculum can be defined as a cycle that involves:
- watching and listening to children with care;
- reflecting on and engaging in dialogue with others about what is happening; and
- responding thoughtfully in ways that support children's ideas, questions, and thinking."
(Susan Stacey, The Unscripted Classroom)
I thought it fitting to begin our weekly travels by introducing you to Anamaria Ralph, a kindergarten teacher in Toronto, and blog author at Wonders in Kindergarten.
I am immediately drawn to the classroom layout in Anamaria's class.
Her simple, yet inviting, open spaces allow for creativity and imagination to thrive.
This is a picture of her block centre...I love the mirrors mounted on the back of the shelf!
There are so many provocations set out throughout her classroom. 
This one is so inviting...what can you create using these loose parts and plasticene?
The sandbox can hold a world of imagination...just look at this incredible creation these students have made!
If you look closely, they thought of what they were going to create and sketched it as a plan.

Please Share an Insight...
"I've learned this year, in my 2nd year of FDK, it gets really busy, but pick a moment during the day to slow down and really take the time to listen to the children and the type of learning that is happening.  I found that by doing so, it has really supported my planning and allows me to further challenge their learning."
(Anamaria Ralph)
I know that there is a lot of learning taking place here...who wouldn't want to be a child in this classroom?
Be sure to visit Anamaria's blog, Wonders in Kindergarten, for more pictures!
Do you have a classroom that encompasses the same philosophies and beliefs about emergent curriculum as we do?
We would love to feature your blog/website for an upcoming Travelling Tuesday!
Please leave a comment below with a link to your site.
Thanks for travelling with us this week!

Let's Play "I Have...Who Has..."!

Do you ever play this game with your students....
"I have .... who has....?"
My students LOVE it and the girls at Freebielicious thought you would too!
Here's how you play...
Click the picture above so you can start at the right place.
You will read the clues and guess who the Freebielicious author is before moving on!
We have a GREAT prize for you at the end!
Did you see Kinders and Beyond's link?

Well, that's me!
Yes, I drink waaaayyyyy too much coffee during the day - in fact, I am drinking one right now!
But I love it and it helps me through the day!
(Remember, I have 2 small kids and I just moved a couple of months ago into a new house.  Life is crazy busy to say the least!)
I think that one of THE MOST IMPORTANT (and fun!) centers in my classroom is the Dramatic Play area.  It's a large space I created for my students to make-believe and use oral language, writing, reading and even math skills!
This HUGE {growing} bundle includes all 12 Dramatic Play Centers....including one I just uploaded yesterday... Farmer's Market!
Here are a few pictures of my students playing, learning and interacting at the Dramatic Center...
Halloween - Witches' Brew (FREEBIE!)
Hospital/Doctor's Office
Hospital/Doctor's Office
Santa's Workshop
La Pizzeria
La Pizzeria

Ice Cream Parlor

Ice Cream Parlor

Grocery Store
Grocery Store
But wait!
I have a secret to tell you.....
There is a BIG sale on TpT beginning tomorrow and even though this bundle is already discounted than if you were to purchase each pack individually, it will be further discounted during the sale!
Be sure to use the code in the picture above to save even more!
Okay, another secret....
I will be adding another pack to this already huge set....coming this week!
{Here's a has to do with something fun families do in the summer...hmmm....)
Which means the price will go hurry and get this now!!!
Wait, wait, wait!!!
The game isn't quite over yet.....
Time to hop to the next blog...
Can you guess....
Click the picture to find out!


Student Mailbags - FREEBIE!

I've often been asked by other teachers about how students carry notes, readers and papers back and forth from home to school.
We use "Mailbags"!
Each student gets a vinyl bag which you can find at the Dollar Store.
It's just a heavy duty zippered pouch that is large enough to hold everything we need to send home and it lasts the entire year without falling apart!
We used to use Ziploc bags but we had to replace those several times during the school year. 
We even tried making mailbags by stapling file folders and laminating them but we found that the staples poked through eventually even after using Duct tape.
I created these simple labels to use with the name of our school and student name.  I print them on heavy duty cardstock and laminate.  They are good for the entire year!
You can download this *editable* file to make your own Mailbags by clicking {HERE}.
The font I used for the school name was Doodle Basic and I used KG Second Chances Solid for the student names.
Hope you enjoy!