A group of four friends and I started up a preschool co-op we run out of our homes. The reasons for participation varies for each mother from lifestyle and educational beliefs to time and finances. We all appreciate giving and receiving input about our child’s education and working together to educate as we feel best, both as trained and experienced professionals and mothers alike. Working within specific guidelines set forth by the members in our group, each mom takes a turn teaching preschool out of her home for two months as a time. Unfortunately, none of my friends, nor myself, have a room in our homes to dedicate solely to preschool. Whatever room class takes place in must also serve as a genuine living or play space during non school hours, so in our preschool we have no bulletin boards or centers that are permanent. Because of this, and because the preschool location rotates, our classroom must be mobile.
Our solution to needing a mobile classroom begins with the circle time bulletin board. Since I’m first in the teaching rotation this fall, I volunteered to put this bulletin board together. I’ll explain the decisions I made in putting this bulletin board together first in a more general sense, and then I’ll get more specific.
Because even the bulletin board must be mobile, I selected a tri-fold presentation board to make our circle time board. There are five kiddies in our preschool co-op, sometimes six if the teaching mother invites a younger sibling to participate, so this smaller bulletin board is the perfect size for our small class. I love how it folds away and stores nicely under a bed, in a closet, or in my case, between the piano and the wall. Just a tip if you want to try this, buy the thickest tri-fold presentation board you can find. After passing this around to a few different houses, or even through regular use, it will start to look a little worn by the end of the year. I promise you will not regret spending and extra few dollars on the thicker, higher quality board.
There are four sections to this bulletin board. Along the top are alphabet cards. One the right side is math, including the calendar. (Here, the calendar serves an opportunity for more math instruction rather than instruction about time). The center is for phonemic awareness and phonics practice, and the left side is weather and the days of the week. The weather and days of the week printables I found at Confessions of a Homeschooler.
Each day we sing the alphabet song, allowing the students to point to the letters as we sing them. I chose cards will real photos and laminated these cards, even though they were glassy card stock, because I know the children may use them as manipulatives. I lined this portion of the bulletin board with contact paper and used permanent double sided clear tape to adhere the cards. This does not actually make the cards permanent, but it does keep them where they belong, but the contact paper and lamination make it easy to remove the cards if needed, such as when you want to emphasize the focus letter.
The right side of the tri-fold is for math concepts. As a group we decided not to have a focus letter or shape of the week, but to integrate those concepts into our daily curriculum. (More posts to come about how we plan this). Research shows that in preschool practice in one to one correspondence counting is more important than number recognition, and that one to one correspondence practice does not have to relate to a specific focus number.
Back-dropped in red polka dot paper is a graph. Each day the students will check in and participate in recording information via graphing. This is as simple as students giving their opinions of which farm animal they like better: cow or rooster. They will place a marker for their opinion in the appropriate place on the board. At first this will be heavily guided, but after a month or so the children will be able to fill out their vote on their own and class time will be used to discuss the graph outcomes, as well as practice more counting.
The calendar is just a printout I made in a word document. It is in a clear protective sleeve so that it can be changed out monthly. Laminated and seasonally colored number cards will be added as we work our way through the month. Special events, birthdays, and holidays will also be recognized, as well a preschool days. Also during calendar time is when students will receive a daily dose in patterning practice.
Phonemic Awareness and Phonics
The middle portion of the tri-fold is for phonemic awareness and phonics. (Sorry there is no close up picture). The three squares backed in green polka dot paper is for sound position identification. (Post to follow with specifics and a how-to). The large blue gingham outlined rectangle will serve as a place to put the photos used for phonemic awareness. Also, since it is covered in contact paper, it can be used as a white board. More posts will follow about how I teach phonemic awareness.
Weather and Days of the Week
The left side of the tri-fold is for weather, seasons and days of the week practice. The days of the week review the terms “yesterday”, “today” and “tomorrow.” I found all three of these printables at Confessions of a Homeschooler. One thing I might add a piece of poster board is a weather chart that graphs the weather all month long. This would make a great class project and provide excellent and realistic practice in larger one to one correspondence amounts.
A Few More Tips
- Print everything on card stock for added durability, even if you don’t think it will be necessary. You won’t regret using tough card stock, while you might regret using regular printer paper if that something gets torn or bent.
- Print in color. The kiddies enjoy it so much! Color is inviting and provides tons of opportunities for extra teaching. Back your paper in color, too! It makes a bulletin board more inviting and gives it a “real classroom” feel.
- Laminate everything! Never underestimate how rough kids can be on things. Even if something isn’t meant to be handled by kids, the students will get to it (or a younger sibling), so you may as well laminate it.
- When you first introduce a bulletin board like this to the kiddies, be clear in establishing some rules and expectations. I don’t believe in bulletin boards that are “hands off.” But I do believe in teaching children behavioral expectations when using my teaching tools. So, this bulletin board can only be used with an adult and can only be used in the specific ways in which it is intended.
- For storing all those little pieces for the calendar and weather, laminate a few pages of blank or scrap paper. Send them through a three hole punch and put them into a binder. Now that they are laminated you can use that double sided permanent clear tape to stick those pieces in a binder. I find this especially helpful because everything remains organized and visible. It’s great for the kids, too. When discussing the weather, you can pull out the weather pages and ask them to match the card with the weather outside, or use the cards to help them identify if is is closer to windy or cloudy, or both. Note: more cards are on the back side of the paper in the picture below. And, I also use this same system for the month names and numbers.
- Finally, and most importantly, there are hundreds awesome circle time bulletin boards to look to for ideas, but which one is right for you? Decide on what you’d like to include based on the needs and level of your child(ren). Do what you feel is best.
Please feel free to contact me or leave a comment if you have any questions or would like more information about something in particular.