Prepping Materials for the First Month Back!

While I do not have my own classroom anymore, I still play a big part in helping other teachers set up their early childhood classrooms for back to school and support them throughout the year!  Even when it’s not my own classroom, I still feel those same jitters and the rushed feeling of all that needs to be accomplished before your students come the first day. I also understand the pressure of wanting to make it all look cute, themed, and organized.  I think it’s important to remember that it’s OK if you want it to look cute if you are not blowing a personal budget, overwhelming yourself, and/or missing the functionality behind making a classroom safe and functional. In this blog I reference the “first month” because, it is all about learning the routines, see what does and does not work for your students, and revamping.  A lot of schools also require a lot of initial data taking and jumping right into curriculum.  Whether you have returning students or are jumping into a brand-new environment, here are a few materials I like to have that first month to get you started!

Fun at Work with Teacher Time

As you are teaching your classroom routines, you might feel that pressure to jump into hardcore curriculum immediately.  While I’m not pushing to go rogue, just keep in mind that the first week especially, kids are just learning the new environment.  You must pair the areas in your room with positive reinforcement, so your students feel intrinsically motivated to want to be there.  They’ll feel safe and know what to expect, making circle time, work with teacher time, and centers a fun place to learn.  I love bringing familiar toys to the table such as Mr. Potato Head, Play-doh, dinosaurs and other activities so we can practice sitting/standing, listening, and for some, just approaching the table! You can also use this time to take some valuable observational data on current skills and their interests.  Some may not yet be interested in manipulating toys and coming to the table may be a HUGE deal. And that’s ok.  These are all important things to note during those first few weeks!

Basic Learning Skill Tasks

You know I am obsessed with basic learner skills. I feel like it is always a great idea to have a variety of errorless activities and visual discrimination type of activities prepared.  These activities are easy to prep and are so functional.  It can be so easy to go down a rabbit hole of prepping activities before even knowing your kiddos. This can result in a lot of wasted time and money. In an Early Childhood classroom, it’s a safe bet that you will need a good mix of errorless type activities and basic learner skill materials at some point.  If you have some of these prepped, you can pull them out in a moment’s notice and easily figure out which one is appropriate depending on the current skill level.  In errorless tasks, the child cannot get the task wrong.  They may be putting apples in a basket, or crayons on a page (interactive laminated pictures).  You might still need to model an errorless task because some students may have not yet completed a work task like this. I have had students mostly interested in the Velcro dots at first and did not understand the direction until I modeled the task a few times.  The pictures of the colored rice bin are something I created with objects that I had from another game. I took pictures of the singular objects and then printed them out in various ways (singular and a field of 9 on one board).  You can increase or decrease the difficulty of this task depending on the skills needed! Interested in some errorless tasks and basic learner skill activities? See below!

Easy Matching Weekly Workbooks- Fall Edition 
Easy Matching Weekly Workbooks- School Edition
Errorless Work Task Mega Pack


Back to School Activity

Back to school activities are so much fun. Chances are that you also are required to have some hall and classroom bulletin boards. I loved this activity I first saw from Made for Me Literacy in their Back-to-School edition that you can find here.  You can also find big coloring page letters on Google if you search “coloring page A” (or whatever letter you need).  Then you can either cut up some squares of tissue paper or have your students rip off pieces and glue them on to their letters.  Following the activity, the adults can cut out the letter and the student can glue it on to a colorful background.  It makes for an awesome and bright hall bulletin board (see cover photo).  We also made the glue and school buses from this unit, but your students can choose from a variety of fun back to school items!  Happy First Month back!

Gina Russell, B.S , M.Ed
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