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Sunday, July 31, 2011

So many ideas, so little time!

Teachers, it's Target time again! And a little Dollar Tree thrown in for good measure :) Here are some of my finds:

SIGNS! (Target- $1.00 for 2 pack) I thought the line up and clean up ones would be good for jobs to let the kids hold up. The other 2 I will probably use at circle time. I might try to find a rhyme or chant to go with it and write it out on chart paper for them to learn.

These next 2 items ($1.00 ea @ Target) will be excellent for my writing area.

Number Stamps (Target $1.00) These will be great to help the children trace their numbers.

ABC banner and puzzle piece jumbo border ($2.50 ea @ Target)- The caterpillar ABC's will most likely be used as my word wall. I just love the jumbo border, especially for those times when you just can't find enough to fill up your bulletin board- LOL.

Weather chart (Target $1.00) Circle time wall. I like that it has 3 arrows. My kids are always coming up with multiple answers for the question "What's the weather today?" Now they can document them all!

Number Tape (Dollar Tree- $1.00) Though we don't have desks, I like to put these in various places around the room where children will be counting and/or measuring. For example, the math or science table and the toys and games or manipulative table.

Last but not least, my trading card protectors ($1.00 @ Dollar Tree). Now, you might ask, what can you do with those? Well, scroll down and see...

Here are some matching activities I made using them. You could also use these for a tactile activity and fill the pockets with things that have different textures such as sandpaper, a feather, a piece of felt.

Found anything good at Target? Head on over to Target Treasures to link up for Fab Finds Fridays:

"Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story" Review

Ok, so Harry Potter is not exactly a preschool book, but I thought other teachers may be interested in this, plus it is all about creativity which is what makes great teachers great. So... now that I have justified my post, I will begin. LOL

I thought it was a good story about Joanne Rowling's life. I especially liked how they showed all the things she imagined and dreamed up for the book and how she came up with it in her everyday life. For example, the goblins in the bank, the liver on the candy cart on the train, and the candles floating. What an awesome imagination! I also thought it was interesting to find out the reason she used the name J.K. instead of Joanne was because boys don't generally read books by female authors.

This was an inspiring story of how Rowling went from being homeless to being a world famous author. I also thought it was interesting how so many publishing companies turned her down at first and how the agent kept telling her that people rarely make any money in children's books. Joanne's determination especially in the midst of so many negative things happening in her life was fascinating. She surely showed everyone that you can truly accomplish your dreams under even the direst of circumstances. And as far as being a children's book, I started reading the first book in collage for my children's lit class and never put them down until I got to the last one. They are as much for adults as they are for children. My mom even told me the other day (The same person who told me the books were satanic) that she is actually starting to like the movies.

I would recommend this movie to anyone who likes the Harry Potter books. Congratulations to J.K. Rowling and all her success!

Friday, July 29, 2011


Well, Summer is winding down. Time to start thinking about organizing your classroom for another wonderful school year! Which means, back-to-school shopping with all those crazy deals that a teacher just cannot pass up. Well in the last month or so, there have been a couple new hobbies I have taken up, and Target dollar shopping. Both of which are GREAT resources to use for organizing.

First of all, I stocked up on Target's plastic crates (not in the dollar section, but caught them on sale for $3.00, so a bargain nonetheless). I have used them just for storage so far. They are great because you can use hanging file folders in them. But also, they fit perfectly in the shelving unit I already had and I use them to store craft items mostly. They would be great to use in the classroom for books, etc.

Here is a wonderful example I ran across on Pinterest of how a teacher turned crates into seats, so they can be used for storage as well as seating.

Also, I found some dollar deals including a mini pocket chart and some lined dry-erase board strips. I am going to use them for circle time or small groups to have the children write something on their board and then they can come up and display it in the pocket chart.
Some other uses for the mini-pocket chart I found lying around...

Dr. Suess was well-represented in the dollar section of target, from erasers to markers to silly bands to pins. None of which I bought, but I did think the vinyl bags were a great value for a dollar, so I have picked up one of each, The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who, Red Fish, Blue Fish, and Green Eggs and Ham. These I will use to make activity bags that will include the book itself and some activities that go along with it. For additional ideas about Dr. Suess, go to

Pinterest has given me soooo many ideas that I wanna do them all, but I know there is no possible way I can. At least not this year...  One thing I really like about it too is that the things I repin almost always lead me to new blogs. I would like to share a blog called Target Treasures, which relates back to my other newest hobby. This is a blog all about things a teacher buys at Target and uses for the classroom. Great!

Another Pinterest find I came across is Printable Labels for Book Bins. Pretty self-explanatory, but click the link to see photos and to print out the labels!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Promoting Autonomy

As many of you know who have studied early childhood or child development (especially at The Ohio State University), autonomy is a major factor in teaching young children. One reason for this is to teach children problem solving skills that they will use their whole life, not only academically, but socially as well.

But how do we begin promoting autonomy as early as possible? Today, as I was feeding baby food to my baby with a spoon, it dawned on me that it is never too early to start. Even if it's just modeling the behavior, that is a good first step. Allowing the baby to watch what you do as you explain what you are doing is beneficial even if the child does not fully understand what you are saying. Children absorb a lot.

The next step would be allowing the child to get at least some hands on experience with the task. In preschool, we do "hand over hand" with the children when we are first teaching them how to pour their milk at breakfast and lunch. (We do family-style meals in which our goal is for the children to become completely self-sufficient at serving their own meal). Basically with the "hand over hand" technique, we are at first doing almost all the work of actually balancing and lifting the milk carton to pour the milk, but the child is holding onto the carton alongside us. Gradually, we give the child more control in allowing them to do it by themselves. You would be surprised how quickly they learn with this type of hands-on experience and scaffolding.

So, I decided to begin this process with the baby eating the baby food. I let him grab onto the spoon as I helped guide it to his mouth. As you can imagine, this type of teaching can be very messy, but children actually love doing things themselves and get that much more gratification from achieving a goal because they were active participants.

I think this is sometimes where we get caught up as parents or teachers by saying, oh it will be easier/faster/etc if I just do it myself. We must be very careful about doing this. I have seen too many 3 and 4 year olds walk into a preschool classroom who were not able to (or didn't think they should have to) do the simplest tasks on their own because mom and dad have always done it for them at home. It is a real eye-opener for those children coming to Head Start. But with the help of the other children and modeling from the teachers, they catch on quickly.