Observation Form for Preschool

You know how people say they have the memory of an elephant? Yea, that's not me. I think it is me, I wish it to be me- but when I face the hard facts my memory seems to be as bad as Dory's in Finding Nemo! So, I find myself making notes (shout-out to my best friend- the sticky note) all over the place. Can you feel me?

Well, that same "Oh, I'll remember that" attitude crosses over to the classroom. Guess what? I just saw my little preschooler Gabby take the sorting bears from the math center and sort them by color and size at the same time! Um, this noteworthy! This should go in her portfolio ASAP! Wait, who is upset? Oh, I'm sorry my friend Ben, but we don't knock down other friends' towers.

Yep, I got distracted (like I do 5,982 times a day) and I forgot all about that wonderful thing Gabby did earlier. I'm telling you what, a teacher's brain is pulled in so many different directions during the day, I truly wonder how I find my car at the end of the day!

So, this brings me to note-taking, just like I do all over my house. But, this time I am using it in the my classroom to take note of those note-worthy events. All I have to do is jot down the student's name, date, materials and what I saw. Then, I can later look back at how Gabby just showed me that she can sort by 2 attributes. Plus, I can put that little note in her portfolio. Done.

Need this form? It is all yours friend: Center Time Observations


Need some help with your Preschool Assessments?  Check out my new course!

Managing Centers in Preschool

Let's set the scene for a moment... you just set up an epic pumpkin patch in your dramatic play center. It is complete with pumpkins (uh, I'd hope so), a wheelbarrow, leaves and rakes, a scarecrow, and...yes you get it- the center is AH-MAZING!

So, what do all your children do when they arrive? They race to your homemade Pumpkin Patch! All 10 of them, in unison! You think, 'Oh, how nice this will be- the whole class playing together!' Then, reality sets in and all you hear is "No, I want to be the cashier!" and "Teacher, he just took my pumpkin!" and "OWW! Billy just hit me with the rake!" So much for playing together...

The problem was there was too many kids in one area of the classroom. They couldn't play freely, they couldn't talk out what roles they were going to play because there was just too many of them!

One thing to know about my classroom is that we are play-based. I never force students to go to certain centers, they are allowed to choose where they want to work and whom they might want to work with. That being said, the morning of the Pumpkin Patch they ALL happened to want to choose the Drama Center (of course they did- it is epic after all!).

So, I had to come up with a solution that did not involve micro-managing their choices. So, here it is folks- the moment you've been waiting for... Wait, I am pretty sure this idea has been out there awhile, but it is working for me- so maybe it will work for you?

Limit the number of kiddos in each center! I might have built this up a little too much...please accept my apology. BUT, it is working...really well!

See those signs with numbers on them in the pics above? Yep, those are my little miracle workers, baby! I have some signs that allow 4 students to be in the center (Drama and Blocks) and some that allow 2 students (all the rest of the centers) at a time. Those little silver circles under the number? Washers (make sure they are magnetic!) that I hot glued to the laminated signs.

Then, I bought some thick cardboard pieces from the craft store. I think the ones in the picture above were supposed to be chalkboard labels or something. I added a magnet to the back (buy some thick heavy duty magnets, not that stuff on a roll) and DONE!

Now, when the center is full of names, my kiddos know that they have to pick somewhere different to go until a spot opens up. I have loved the management side of it, but also it encourages some of my kiddos to try out centers they may not have tried before!

Get the Managing Center Signs here!


This freebie first appeared in the Take & Try Newsletter!  A bi-weekly newsletter for early educators that features free ideas you can take and try in your classroom!

Learn more info here!

Adding Small Parts in the Preschool Block Center

The How and Why of adding small parts to the preschool block center.
The How and Why of adding small parts to the preschool block center.

Small parts, loose parts, a trinket box- there are lots of names revolving around this idea.  But, whatever you choose to call them, they are a great addition to the preschool block center.

What are small parts?

Small parts are basically materials that children can manipulate freely, with no set instructions.  Small parts can be found everywhere!  Some ideas you see in the above photo include: rings from gallon milk jugs, empty spools, old puzzle pieces, nuts, bolts, buttons, babies and a few random things that were donated to our preschool.

Why use small parts in the block center?

Small parts are a wonderful way to enhance block play.  Simple little parts can become so many different things when building structures.  For instance, in the photo below, you can see students pretending that the small parts are cookies.  I love the creativity that is sparked by adding these small pieces to the block center.  Not to mention the fine motor skill that my students are practicing!

The How and Why of adding small parts to the preschool block center.
The How and Why of adding small parts to the preschool block center.

Small parts are such an easy open-ended tool to add to your preschool room!  Just remember to be cautious with student who still like to place items in their mouths.

Do you use small parts in your classroom?  Tell me about it in the comments!

Developmental Milestones Checklist

Early Childhood Developmental Checklists for parents, preschool teachers and caregivers.
Early Childhood Developmental Checklists for parents, preschool teachers and caregivers.

Do you have a child in your care that you want to make sure is on track developmentally? Eight years ago, as a new parent I was always concerned if my first born was meeting all her milestones. 'Concerned' may be an understatement - I was borderline obsessed with making sure I was giving her the best start to life. I mean, I know how important those first years are and I was bound not to jack it up!

Lucky for me, I had just started a new position as a Parent Educator and was trained in helping parents provide experiences to help their children meet their developmental milestones. I had some really good tools in my toolbox, but even I felt the need to have a checklist --- there is something so gratifying about making a checkmark!!! Which experiences did I need to provide her with? How could I help her meet a milestone that she was struggling with? Well, first I had to see what she could do, then I would checkmark it with a highlighter.

Serious Sidenote: I do not feel that drilling children with a million questions, asking them to name objects on flashcards or demanding they sit and 'practice' skills is AT ALL appropriate. I could see what she knew just by observing, playing and talking with her.

After I knew what she knew, I could start providing her with the experiences/tools she needs. For example, if I want my child to feed herself with a spoon, then I have to provide the spoon and model how it is used. Without the spoon on the tray, she would never explore it and eventually learn to use it. If I want my child to be able to say 'more', I have to use the word over and over when the child wants more.

You may be thinking, this all seems common-sense like. It is, but being a caregiver is hard and tiring. Why not take some of the guess work out of it?! You can grab this resource- the same one I created to use with my kiddos- for free. There are checklist for ages 0-36 months.  Enjoy!

This freebie appeared first as a part of the Take and Try Bi-Weekly Newsletter.  Have you considered joining?

Join the take and try newsletter for early educators and get an idea to take and try in your classroom every 2 weeks!
Join the take and try newsletter for early educators and get an idea to take and try in your classroom every 2 weeks!

Holiday Happy Notes for Kids

holiday-happy-notes-square.png

Fa la la la la..... We set up our tree- Yippee! Pumpkin spice has been replaced with Peppermint Mocha and my kids have been circling the whole...Target...toy....catalog (you feel me?). Helllooo Holidays!! I love when you arrive! But, to be honest- you also stress me out. The amount of things I need to get done in the next month is... well... riDONKulous! To combat some of the ridonkulous-ness I like to start planning early. I want to have all my preschool Holiday planning done. Lesson plans, gifts for kids to make for parents, Holiday party and gifts for my students. I need to get it planned out before the late-December-stress-storm hits. Cause if I don't - well..let's not even think about that!

One thing on my Preschool Holiday to-list is Happy Notes. I LOVE to let the kids in my class know just how special I think they really are. With a class on 8 students, I can really get to know them and love them for who they are. So, every Holiday I send home hand written notes from the heart. I feel it is UBER important that my kiddos know that I am their biggest cheerleader!

This year, I have made some cute little Holiday Happy Notes for me and you! Just print off these notes (I like to use red and green paper) and hand write how much you care for your kiddos!  Simple, easy BUT leaves a big impact.  Who knows, maybe your Happy Note will be saved in a box for the kiddo to find on graduation?!

Let your students know how special they are to you by writing them a Holiday Happy Note!
Let your students know how special they are to you by writing them a Holiday Happy Note!

This freebie was part of the Take and Try Newsletter back in November.  Have you considered joining?

Join the take and try newsletter for early educators and get an idea to take and try in your classroom every 2 weeks!
Join the take and try newsletter for early educators and get an idea to take and try in your classroom every 2 weeks!