Creating a Preschool Schedule in Just 5 Steps

Creating a class schedule can be one of the most important plans you create for you preschool classroom.  Setting up your day to run smoothly takes some thought and consideration.  Because the truth is... your schedule can make or break the classroom behaviors you see.

Just think about it, if you schedule and execute a 30 minute circle time at the beginning of the year... then you will, most likely, have little rolly polly children on your carpet. Or, if you don't schedule snack time in between arrival time and lunch you are going to be having some 'hangry' students because snack or lunch is too far away! How about movement activities... If your outdoor time isn't until the end of the day and you have no movement activities built in, then you may find wiggles to be bursting at the seams!

So, to create a schedule that helps with positive behaviors and works against negative ones is the goal.  But, it takes being intentional.

Through the years I have found a...

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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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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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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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10 Ways to Boost Attention Spans

Have you ever been here…. you get out a floor puzzle for a child that requests it and as you and the child are working together to assemble the puzzle, the child abruptly leaves, moving onto to something else. The child lost interest in putting together the puzzle, their attention was up!

It happens quite often in preschool classrooms because of the smaller attention spans that young children have. If circle time is too long- they roll on the floor. If a board game is taking too long- they quit. If something else catches their eye- they leave the activity and go to it (squirrel!). If you work in a preschool classroom, you know exactly what I’m talking about!

It is important for us to help our children build up their attention to task. We want our students to be able to focus on an age-appropriate task and complete it. Completing a task from start to finish helps children feel accomplishment. It also helps build independent little people!

So, how can we, as educators,...

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Righty or Lefty? Hand Dominance in Preschool

When I was a Parent Educator, I had many families that asked about when their child would show a preference in hand domination.  I personally, am right handed.  Can't do a darn thing with my left!  My best friend from childhood is a lefty, but she could do lots of things with her right hand.  Lefties are far out-numbered, many say that we live in a right-handed world...and we probably do :)  So, when will you know which hand is your child's dominant hand?  Keep reading to find out what I've learned!

According to Marianne Gibbs from Write Out of the Box, children generally develop hand dominance between the ages of 4 and a half to 6 years of age.

So, this means that some Pre-K students may have not developed hand dominance yet.  Each student is different and it is important to embrace the differences.

As parents or teachers it is important that we do not force our hand dominance onto children.  Is the world a little easier for right-handed...

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Preschool Teacher's Data Collector

One day I was getting ready to do a whole group alphabet activity.  It was a simple 'swat the letter' game where you call out a letter name or sound and students take turns whacking the letter card with a fly-swatter. I was trying to decide which letters I wanted to focus on for this activity. I knew that I couldn't focus on all the letters of the alphabet because that would become too tiresome and I would let loose the ants in my kiddos pants.  

But--- which letters do I choose?

I needed to know, as a whole, which letters my students were struggling with the most.

That sounded like a data nightmare. -data is not my favorite thing, fyi-

But, now my curiosity was peaked.  Which letters on average were giving students trouble?  While were at it... which numbers, shapes and colors were learning curveball culprits as well?

So, even though -data is not my favorite thing- I made it work.  I created a template that can be used in Adobe Reader (free btw)...

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