'Twas the week before Christmas...

I don't know about you - but the week before Christmas always seems to be the most hectic time of year!  But...it's also one of my most favourite times because there are so many wonderful things to do with the students!

I teach at a Catholic school and we spend a lot of time learning about the Nativity, reading different versions of the story and singing songs.

This year our class loved the song "Take a Walk to Christmas" (found on the CD In God's Image from our Kindergarten Religion Program).  I thought it would be fun to create some props for the students to act out the song as we sang it.

We chose some students to hold the different props and as we sang the song, the student holding that prop would walk around the circle.  More children joined in with their props as we continued to sing.  We did this nearly all morning, since our students loved it so much!

Here's the same song on You Tube if you'd like to try it with your class.

You can download the props for the Take A Walk to Christmas song by clicking here.

Looking for a few more things to do to get you through this week? 
Click the pictures below!

Roll-A-Santa freebie (click the picture to download)

Santa's Workshop Dramatic Play (click the picture)

Christmas Write the Room Activity (click the picture)

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas .... and here's to making it through this week!


Glass Bottle Xylophone

Our students enjoyed a presentation a few weeks ago from a musician so much that they were creating music everywhere in the class - we noticed they were hitting blocks together to make a beat, tapping sticks against tin cans, humming and tapping the beat of the weekly poem.
We decided to create a provocation for the class using glass baby food jars and coloured water.
They were invited to use the wooden mallet to tap the jars and play a song.
So simple yet SO.MUCH.FUN!!!
We extended this by adding blank song sheets and having students come up with their own song and colouring in their music sheet. 
They LOVED this activity so much!

You can download these song cards (coloured and blank) for FREE by clicking here.

Great Canadian Cyber Monday GIVEAWAY!

I can't believe there are only 4 more weeks until the holidays!
I think know this is THE busiest time of the year for most teachers...especially is you are having a holiday concert, trying to mark papers before the break, making holiday crafts with your students, and, oh yah, TEACHING!

I joined a group of 14 other Canadian teachers to offer you a chance to win ONE of THREE $50 TpT gift cards!

Enter below using the Rafflecopter...but hurry!  Contest closes TONIGHT (Sun. Nov. 26/17) at midnight EST.

And here are just a few items you might want to check out which will be on SALE tomorrow and Tuesday....

Why we LOVE our Light Table!...{FREEBIE included!}

There are a lot of centres in kindergarten, with something new to explore, discover and try all the time!  But this year, our students have taken a keen interest in using our light table on a regular basis.  If you don't have a light table in your classroom, it's, by far, one of the BEST tools you can have!

Playing a game of dominoes is so much fun on the light table!

 Some of the best resources I recently discovered are these translucent loose parts from Wintergreen Learning Materials.  The sets you see above, including buttons, bugs, gems and dominoes are from the Light Table Manipulative Centre set.

Our students also enjoy creating with these Rainbow Magformers.  I love how open ended they are!
There is such great discussion around what the children are building, how they built it, what would happen if..., etc.  These are ideal for STEAM building in your class!
When we want our students to focus on the characteristics of 2-dimensional shapes, I traced large shapes onto overhead transparencies.  They I simply added a basket of light table pattern blocks for the students to sort.  Once again, lots of great conversations taking place here:
"These ones all have 3 sides so I know they are triangles!" A.A.
"This is round so it's a circle." J.C.
Last Christmas I introduced the students to subitizing games on the overhead.  This is a picture of my Roll-A-Santa game where you roll the dot die, pick up the corresponding piece and build the picture!  First one to build a complete picture wins!
I simply printed the game on transparencies for use on the light table.  
You can find this game (and lots more!) in my Fun with Dice (Math Games) pack on TpT.

Since we have been focusing on sorting for the past few weeks, I wanted to create some sorting mats for the beautiful transparent buttons that I left at the light table. 

You can download these mats for FREE here.

Do you have a light table in your room?  How do your students use it?

Our Classroom 2017-2018

I am so excited to share our classroom learning space this year with all of you!
Truthfully, not much has changed in terms of layout (with the exception of a few shelves moved and/or added) but that can always change as we listen and respond to our students.
I think this is one of my favourite parts of the classroom.  It is used as both a quiet area to read and relax and also as a small world play area.  The carpet (purchased at Ikea years ago) is a great play space and lots of materials such as plastic plants, small wood blocks, plastic animals, etc. are used to play and create here.
This is our gathering area, and we also use this area for block building.
Our students love play dough!  We have a Playdough Club where parents sign up to make it each week so it can be replenished.  You can read more about that by clicking here.
Right now the play dough centre just has simple rolling pins but we often change it to include cookie cutters, loose parts and play dough activity mats.
Our children have self-regulated snack, meaning they can sit here at the "Bistro" tables and eat whenever they are hungry, which does take some used to in the beginning but they catch on quick!
We have a sandbox and a sensory bin (currently filled with beans).  The large wooden shelf holds sand materials (rocks, sticks, scoopers, jewels, etc.) and the wire rack holds sensory bin materials (although we are fine with the children using them for both areas!).
Here is our Science/Discovery area (including the wooden shelf in the background).  We started the year by placing some shells both Mrs. Petrone (ECE) and I collected on our trips down south this past summer.  I love starting the year with something personal as it makes for great conversation!
We added a large shelf next to our light table to house our materials.  In the beginning of the year, we set out only a few things to show the children how to play with them and clean them up properly. 
Our math centre is defined by this large math carpet where the students explore the many manipulatives we set out.
This is our Writing Centre along with the large wooden shelf that houses the materials in the background.  I am a big believer in promoting writing on a daily basis so that's why the two tables are so large.
Our Dramatic Centre is in the middle of room!   I have been doing it this way for years!  I love the fact that students can bring materials from other centres into drama and create amazing things!
There are a couple of tables in the room that we like to invite the children to join us for small group activities.
Here are a few examples of provocations that we set up in the classroom:
This idea is from Stimulating Learning with Rachel and you can download these mats here:
We start off the year by inviting children to explore early number concepts.
I created these mats for children to match the rocks, identify letters, find the letters in their name...there are so many possibilities!

You can download these ABC mats by clicking here.

I hope you enjoyed a peek into our classroom!  Lots more to come soon!  Stay tuned!


Setting Up Your Dramatic Play Centre

I often get asked about the various centres in my classroom and which ones the students tend to gravitate (and enjoy!) the most. 
That's easy...our Dramatic Play Centre is definitely a hit year after year!
Why?  Well, it's always changing.  And it's always changing because the children are changing it!  They come up with ideas on what to turn it into based on their own interests, adventures with their family, and experiences.
At the beginning of the year, I don't set it up in any particular way.  I include plates, bowls, cutlery and other kitchen items for the children to explore.  All of these items are real, purchased at Ikea (I love their ceramic children's plates!) and second hand stores.  

We have a lot of discussions with the students about setting the table and what kinds of conversations people have around the dining table.  Dramatic play, after all, is a great way to build oral language skills!

Let me add that the actual area where the Dramatic Play Centre is also changes throughout the year!
The photo shown above is what this centre looked like last September when school started.  We quickly realized, however, that by moving it to the centre of the classroom would allow for more students to use it at once and also for materials from other centres (ie. blocks, math) to be used with dramatic play.
The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to have discussions around tidy-up time.  We have included pictures of how we expect the materials to be put back.

You can find a lot of props and accessories for your Dramatic Play Centre at the Dollar Store (plastic food, cutlery, place mats), Ikea (ceramic bowls and plates for children), second-hand stores (pots, pans, glasses).
And, of course, we always ask the parents for items!  You never know how they can help!
I have also made my own pretend food using felt - I find that it lasts a long time and, with a good pair of scissors, it's easy to make!

How do the childrens' ideas come to life at this centre?
That can happen in many ways - but here is an example of conversations that might occur in your classroom!

A few children were eating lunch and realized that they all had pizza.  This lead them to discuss where they got the pizza from (some had ordered the night before and others had made it).  I spoke with the children about toppings that they liked and how a pizza is made.  They wanted to set up our Dramatic Play Centre into a pizzeria!  We started by making signs and deciding which ingredients we wanted to make.

At times, I like to have signs ready for the children to use (especially if it's the beginning of the year) and other times, we work with the children and have them create the signage.
Sometimes it seems everyone wants to be the pizza maker so this allows us to have conversations with the students about turn taking and making role cards (i.e. pizza maker, customer, delivery person, etc.)

Here are a few other examples of ideas the children thought of and turned this centre into:

Post Office: 
(great to do this around Valentine's Day to encourage writing letters to one another!)

You can read more about the Post Office here.

Sandwich Shop:
(easy to set up for the beginning of the year, when students are learning to sort toppings)

(you can incorporate real baking with your students too!)

Flower Shop:
(we love to create this when we focus on planting seeds)

Santa's Workshop:
(You can read all about that here)

Grocery Store:
(great when talking about Community Helpers, as you can even take a walk to the grocery store in your area)

(lots of conversations about travel happen after the Winter/March Break holidays so listen to your students!)

If you'd like to know more about the printables you see in the Dramatic Play centres above, you can click here (or the image below):