FAQ

Have a question? Be sure to skim these FAQs before you email me!
I may have answered your question here already!

CHALKBOARDS:


What chalk marker do you use to write on your chalkboards?

I use the Bistro brand chalk markers.  I have both the fine tip and broad point and use both depending on the size of my chalkboard, but use the fine tip more often.  I buy them at Michaels.

Where do you buy your chalkboards?

I buy them at Dollarama and Michaels.  Although, I do have to say that I've noticed that the quality of the chalkboards at Dollarama have been declining over the years... If you can afford it they are more expensive but I recommend the Michaels chalkboards.  They last much longer and the chalk marker comes off much easier too!

How do you get chalk marker off of your chalk boards?

I use a little bit of VIM (the cleaner) and a soft sponge.  If it's not coming off then I rub in circular motions and if still needs more I sometimes use the rough side of a sponge gently.  If you can't find VIM, dipping your sponge in a bit of Coca Cola works too, but be sure to rinse well as any residue will make it sticky.

CENTRES:


How do you run your learning centres?

Our goal during centre time is self-regulation and independence.  We teach and model centre expectations throughout September both as a whole group or by joining them in their play during centre time.  Once the students are able to explore independently, we start pulling guided groups based on diagnostic assessments.

We allow the students to choose any centre they want.  I don't worry about what centre they are visiting because they will get guided time for specific skills they need to work on with an educator throughout the week.

We have a snack centre students can visit to eat as they are hungry during centre time.

The centres I have in my classroom are: sensory bin, computers, iPads, lego, dramatic play, painting, book shelf (reading centre), 2 carpet centres (usually building with big blocks and another centre like trains, gears, puzzles etc.) and table top centres.  Table top centres are literacy based in the morning and numeracy based in the afternoon.

Table top centres I always have out in the morning:

1. Writing Centre: A variety of writing papers (blank, lined etc.) + sight word booklets for the sight word of the week + any specific writing invitations for the week

2. Creation Station: GOOS (good on the other side) paper, construction paper, glue, scissors, art supplies

Table top centres I always have out in the afternoon: Nothing specific, but I always try to have a variety of strands out at the same time so at least one number sense activity, one patterning activity, one sorting activity, one measurement activity and one geometry (2D shapes/3D figures/symmetry) activity.

I set out table top centres based on my assessments and what I know the students need more practice with.

I have all play centres open during all centre times.

How many centres do you have open?

I make sure there are enough spots for at least 10 more kids than we have in class.  For example if I have 25 kids in our class, then I would make sure to have 35 centre spots available and open so the kids can easily move around and have some choice when doing so.

Do you limit the amount of people at each centre?

We do limit the number of students at each centre.  If the centre is full and they want to play there, we teach them to ask a friend who is playing at that centre "I want to play here, can you call me when you are done?" and then go choose something else while they are waiting.

How long do you keep your centre activities out for and when do you switch them out?

I keep activities out for as long as they are engaged with them.  Sometimes that means a centre is only out for 2 days and sometimes it means that it is out for months!  If I am switching them out I do so after school.

ORGANIZATION:


How do you organize and store your centres and manipulatives?

For the centres I am using that week I put them out on our open shelves so I can pull them out and set them up easily at the end of the day.

I store my centres by subject/strand in large clear bins in my cabinets.
I have a cabinet for literacy materials, numeracy materials and art supplies.
For my literacy and numeracy materials I use these Tuff store 19.4L Clear Utility Box from Home Depot.

You can see how I organize my cabinets in my Classroom Reveal 2017 blog post.

PLANNING:


What do you do on the first day/week of Kindergarten?

I have a blog post about that! You can read it here:
http://www.apinchofkinder.com/2017/08/first-day-week-of-fdk.html

Can you show me your day plans/weekly plans?

Here is a link to my weekly plans from 2018:
http://www.apinchofkinder.com/2018/03/weekly-round-up-march-2.html

Here is a link to some other planning templates I have used in the past:
http://www.apinchofkinder.com/2016/10/planning-templates-for-fdk.html

What order do you teach phonics/reading strategies/math units etc.?

You can see the order I teach all subjects (except for inquiry of course) in my FREE long range plans.  You can download them here:
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/FREE-Kindergarten-Long-Range-Plans-2723709

Do you use a phonics program or do letter of the week?

I do not use a specific phonics program or do letter of the week.  I don't focus on letters and sounds in depth during whole group lessons because some of the students will know them all already and I don't find it to be a good use of whole group teaching time.

This post is old but it gives you a general idea of how I run my morning literacy whole group instruction.  You can read it here: http://www.apinchofkinder.com/2015/04/shared-reading-independent-writing.html

The kids who need extra practice with letters and letter sounds I meet with in guided groups.  First I do a letter/sound assessment to determine which letters and sounds the students need more practice with.  I use these Alphabet Intervention Mini Books during that time and only call students who need more practice with the letter we are working on that day.  So depending on the letter, I may have only 2 students in my group, other days I will have 4.

You can read about how I run my alphabet intervention groups in detail here: http://kindertribe.blogspot.com/2015/10/alphabet-small-group-intervention-tools.html

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