How to Set Up a Preschool Classroom

Setting up your preschool classroom doesn’t sound that daunting… at first.

But, year after year I find myself determined to find the perfect (as if it exists) flow. After changing my mind about a billion times, I usually land on a setup that seems to work for me, but (more importantly) is conducive to little learners that learn through play.

Maybe I’m just weird… but, the thought of drawing out a diagram with all my centers and such is super exciting. Sometimes I want to just jump right in!

But, I’ve found that creating a successful layout isn’t just me drawing squares and labeling them on my ‘map’. Making the environment conducive to my little preschoolers takes some planning.

Here are the steps I now take to map out the physical space in my classroom:

  1. Inventory the furniture: Yep, I really do. What pieces of furniture do I have to use for centers? Tables? Shelves? Pull Out Drawers? Tubs?

  2. Decide on the areas needed: Which...

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Preschool Classroom Jobs  

You can give every student in your classroom a job easily and fit them into your preschool classroom!

 Kids love feeling special and I love helping them feel special!  That is why in our preschool classroom each and every child has a special job every day.  For us, having preschool classroom jobs is not just about children helping out in class.  Jobs help cultivate a feeling of community.  Plus, when each student gets a job everyday he or she fills a special spot within that community.  For preschoolers, jobs are super fun! Some of our jobs even work on skill building (win-win)!

I like to create jobs that fit easily into our day.   Some of the jobs I assign are carried out through the day.  Some examples of these jobs include: 

-Door Holder

-Light Helper

-Snack Helper

-Lunch Helper

-Materials Helper

-Line Leader

I also like to incorporate some jobs that promote learning and community that we carry out during our circle time....

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Organizing Your Preschool Small Group

Whether you love or loathe organization, the act of being organized in our classrooms make us more effective teachers.  When we don't have to spend time and frustration looking for materials or lesson plans- we feel better. And when we feel better- we teach better.

This is no different when doing small groups in your preschool classroom.  The organization piece is what keeps all the ducks in a row. << Cause we all hate the feeling of squirrels at a rave!

Organizing small group can be broken down into three buckets: 1. Organizing Activities 2. Organizing Data 3. Organizing Materials

I love to plan (what I can) ahead time... before the year even starts.

So, I put together notebooks for myself of skills that I would most likely teach in small group and store my activities within them.

I have 10 activities per notebook/skill and I can just pull a notebook out and have an activity ready in no time flat.

By front-loading these small group activities I have saved myself so...

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My Top Tips for Preschool Small Group

Here are THE 3 THINGS that have helped me have successful small group time again and again.  These top tips may seem small- but they are mighty!


TOP TIP #1: Have a Plan

 Plan for what you can control.  Many things may be out of your hands until your students are in your class and assessments/observations have been made.  But, that doesn't mean you can't plan anything small group related.

Start by planning...

  • what skills might need to be practiced during small group (use prior experiences to help you decide) and come up with activities you could do in relation to those skills.
  • how you want to monitor student progress. What is does your data collection look like?
  • how students move in and out of groups. Which missing skills receive the highest priority when grouping students?
  • how you will handle students that don't want to come to small group.
  • how you will handle students who aren't in the skill group, but want to play too.


TOP TIP #2 : Be Flexible...

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Preschool Small Group Activity Ideas

Welcome to the Preschool Small Group 5-Day Series! It's Day 3!

If you haven't already, check out Days 1 and 2:

Day 1: Five Reasons to Have Preschool Small Group

Day 2: How to Effectively Group Preschoolers for Small Group

Now, let's get started!

You know the benefits of having small group time {check}

You've got your groups all grouped up {check}

Now it's time to figure out what to do when you call those groups to meet together!

First and foremost- decide on what skills you will focus on. These should be skills that you have assessed and want mastery.

For an example, I have used the following focus skills in the past:

  • 2D Shapes
  • Colors
  • Name Recognition
  • Name Writing
  • Counting
  • Sorting
  • Patterning
  • Numeral Identification
  • Letter Identification
  • Number Sense

But, you could have any skill that you see a need for with your current group of students.

During Small Group

It is extremely important to keep your small group time engaging and fun.  No one is going to want to come join you...

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Preschool Small Group Schedule - Timing is Key


Welcome to the Preschool Small Group 5-Day Series! It's Day 4!

If you haven't already, check out Days 1, 2 and 3:

Day 1: Five Reasons to Have Preschool Small Group

Day 2: How to Effectively Group Preschoolers for Small Group

Day 3: Preschool Small Group Activity Ideas

Let's chat scheduling.  No, I don't just mean when on your schedule you do small group (we will get into that too).... having an effective small group schedule is more than that!

Let's dive in!

>>> When in the school year should I start small group?

This totally depends on you and the class you have... but- you should NOT start at the beginning of the school year.

Here's why... children who are not coming to your small group are playing in play centers.  Before you can release them into the wild of play centers, you have to teach them how to properly use each center.  This takes time and a lot of your attention.  You can't just be trying to have small group and expect four year olds...

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How to Effectively Group Preschoolers for Small Group

Welcome to the Preschool Small Group Series!

It's Day 2 of our series. Check out the post from Day 1: 5 Reasons to Have Preschool Small Group

One of the biggest obstacles when planning for preschool small group is figuring out your groups.

Once you start planning, questions start festering up, like...

-What is my criteria for breaking students into groups?

-How many students should go in each group?

-How long does a student stay in a group?

-How should I refer to my groups?

details... so many details!

Creating Groups...

If the purpose for small group is to help children gain skills they are missing then we have to do one thing first... assessment.

>>Assessments or Observations tell us (for the most part) what a child does and does not know at that specific moment in time. When we know, what they don't know, then we now know how to group. - holy moly that was a lot of 'know's!

So, start cross-referencing assessments. Can you make a group of at least 2 students that all need...

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5 Reasons to Have Preschool Small Group

Do you have small group time built into your preschool day?

If no - why not? This post will give you 5 really good reasons that you should consider adding it in.

If yes - how is it going? do you love or loathe small group time? 

Or... are you required to do small group, but don't really know the benefits?

Read on my friends- small group has some BIG benefits!

#1. Differentiation : Meeting children where they are at. 

Small group allows you to help each child focus on the missing skills he/she needs specifically. In comparison to whole group, where a blanket of topics are taught, whether or not every child is ready for it.

#2. Connection Building:

Creating relationships is one of the most important (if not THE most important) thing you can do in your classroom. A child who likes and trusts you will learn from you.... and small groups help build that relationship. Playing and learning together with smaller groups of children will help you get to know them better. When you...

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The Guide to Pre-Reading Skills in Early Childhood

Preparing students to read doesn't start in kindergarten.  There are many skills needed for students to start on the reading path.  We can help our children gain some of these pre-reading skills starting as infants!  If our children have these pre-reading skills before reaching kindergarten, learning to read will be a successful experience!

Six Pre-Reading Skills

  1. Print Motivation

  2. Print Awareness

  3. Letter Knowledge

  4. Phonological Awareness

  5. Narrative Skills

  6. Vocabulary


    There is a free guide at the end of the blogpost that re-caps this blog post


pre-reading print motivation.png

What is Print Motivation?

Simply, it is being interested in and enjoying books.

Print Motivation starts at a very early age.  Even the youngest of children can be read to by a caregiver.  Usually this reading time is a calm time for you and your child to cuddle around a book.  This creates a positive and warm feeling of reading time.


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Quick and Easy Preschool Circle Time Games

Raise your hand if you struggle to ‘fit it all in’.

Yep, me too. I was finding that relying on small group time to fit in all the things that preschoolers need to know just wasn’t cutting it.

The problem was… since we have small group time during free play, there are many distractions. Not only do some children not want to leave their play to come to the small group table, I’ve also found that sometimes I am needed for conflict resolution.

You know, like when one child is whining to you because another will not share the blocks, all while you are trying to play a learning game with a couple of friends. Little people don’t wait well. They also don’t solve their own problems well either. They still need me to help them walk through the conflict resolution process in an appropriate way. And this is important- teaching social skills in the moment is really important.

But, while I’m taking the time to help students in the social setting,...

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