Kari's Kindergarten Classroom

Welcome to our room!
Isn’t the beginning of the year great?  The freshly sharpened pencils, the rearranging of furniture, and of course (most importantly) the students and their smiling faces.  
When putting a room together, I love to create little spaces here and there.  I want it to look welcoming and exciting, yet also have enough open space to put up student work and let them leave their mark.  
Let’s take a tour of our room!  I’d like to point out 5 parts of our room that we find very useful and absolutely love.  

#1- Our chair pockets
My mom made these chair pockets for us and we love them.  While we share some things with our tables- pencils, crayons, glue, and scissors- having chair pockets gives our students a bit of independence in taking care of their things.  In our chair pockets you will find our writing folders, handwriting books, and rest journals.  

#2- Closet Chalk Boards 

We use these chalkboards as a place to keep track of our reading stamina, ideas for writing, and names of our friends.
They really perk up our room!  

#3- Our classroom library

Such a rich part of any classroom, a classroom library is the home for stories and books about the world.  I worked in a children’s book store in high school and college and have had a slight obsession with books- children’s books specifically.  
Our library is organized by topic.  I wanted the kiddos to have a large part in deciding this, so last year we talked about how we wanted our library to be, how we wanted the books to be organized, and how it should be labeled.  I did the writing for the labels and they did the illustrations.  

#4- The Kitchen

We are very lucky to still be able to have Free Choice as part of our day in Kindergarten at our school.  This is part of a Kindergartners education that is going by the wayside in many schools.  I feel very lucky to be in a place that embraces this time and all the skills it supports- communication, cooperation and collaboration, problem solving, independence, etc.  The list could go on forever!
This is our Kitchen area- by far the hottest choice during our Free Choice time this year.  It is a place where kids who wouldn’t normally play together now do, and they enter an imaginary world where they get to try on different roles. It is one of my favorite parts of the day- listening to and watching them at this time.

#5- Our schedule time line

This part of our room is such a small part, but it does so many things.  At the beginning of Kindergarten, the days seem so long for our little learners.  They are wondering when lunch is, when they get to play, when they will go home.  The schedule above our SMARTboard helps us  tremendously to answer those questions and ease any worries.  We move the star along our schedule as we go, so they can see what’s coming next.
We build the schedule cards together, so they know what the pictures mean if they can’t read the words.  
It helps the kiddos continue to work on their left to right work which will carry over into reading and writing.
It also acts as a memory bank for our year.  Whenever we have a special event, we make a card for it and put it in our schedule for that day.  When the day is over, I keep the card and at the end of the year when we’re reflecting on what a full year it has been, we pull those cards out and take a look at all the special things we did in addition to our very full typical days.  The cards are also useful when thinking of topics to write about (for example: narratives about special class trips or a how to book about how to make applesauce).

So there’s our classroom in a nutshell.  I love to try to make it a special, uplifting, and well-designed space for us in which we spend our many hours together.  

What parts of your room are your favorites?  Which parts really carry your ‘fingerprint’ as a teacher?


Classroom Reveal: #2getherwearebetter

Well hello again!  Happy September!  

I have joined up with Angie from Lucky Little Learners and Ashley from Shroeder Shenanigans in 2nd for their monthly #2getherwearebetter linky.  This is my first one and I am so excited to be joining in on the fun!  

As we get our year started, we JUST started yesterday September 1st; this month's theme here at Our Elementary Lives is our classrooms.  So, all of us will be blogging about our very own, special classrooms.  

I'm going to start this month off with my FIRST GRADE BUSY BEE classroom.  I'm gonna be honest, this is a #reallifeclassroom right here!  I didn't clean it up to look perfect for all of the pictures, I have a theme, Bees-and have had it since being in the classroom, AND it's probably not teacher publication worthy, BUT I love it.  

Here is a picture from the door.  This was taken right before Back to School Night so you can see the tables are full of information and goodies for my firsties.  I have a HUGE window right by my desk which I love.  I made and put up bee curtains (which are fireproof sprayed, don't worry) that just make me smile every time I come into the classroom.  

You can see that our rooms aren't very big, which is fine.  It's bigger than the 10x10 room I had once as a classroom teacher, so I'll take it.

Here's a look from over by my desk.  You can see my library and sink in the back corner.  That yellow bulletin board is kind of a hodge-podge of things.  It houses are months and days of the week posters, our behavior system (I use a strike system-like baseball, 1-2-3) and the paper trays for our writing center.  I also put up our writing anchor charts up there too.     

This is the back of the room.  I typically only have 4 kids tables because I've only ever had 16 students, but this year I have 18, so I needed to add a table.  I'm not sure I like it butted up against the other table, but it will work for now.  I'm hoping to get some flower, octagonal tables with a Donor's Choose, but I haven't created the project yet.  

About our small class sizes: we are a SAGE (student achievement guarantee in education), now called AGR (achievement gap reduction) school.  This means we get state funding because we are a low-income school.  This means we have to keep our class sizes small with no more than an 18:1 student to teacher ratio in kindergarten through third grades.  It's awesome and gives kids the small class size, individual attention they need.  

Here's my word wall and small group tables along with my beloved easel.   You can see my ABCs above the word wall.  We use Handwriting Without Tears so I don't have a cute one-just the one provided.  By the end of the year, that word wall will be loaded with so many sight words.  Under the word wall are my math cubbies.  They house all of our math manipulatives and make them easy access for the kids to use whenever they need them.      

Here's my messy #reallifeclassroom desk.  It's always a mess, even though I'm a super organized person.  If it's a school day, it has stuff all over it.  Also can you see my bee and flowers on my window.  LOVE THEM!

Here is our carpet and smart board area.  I don't have a cutesy rug (not because I don't want one), these were provided by our school because we just got tile last year and I haven't invested in finding a different one yet.  To the left is my daily schedule (blue pocket chart) and to the right is my whole class incentive beehive.   Our classroom seasonal/anchor bookshelf is by our smart board as well as our Busy Bee Helpers.     

And lastly here is my classroom library.  It's the only thing I really took a close up of because it is my work-in-progress, always changing, favorite thing in my classroom.  I have worked really hard on getting it to be how I like it.  On the top shelf in the big red and blue bins are my leveled library based on text bands and reading levels. These mostly have fiction readers.  Below that, in the other slots, are my genre and theme baskets.  These include poetry, nonfiction animals, fairy tales, weather, space, class made books, etc.  Isn't my shelf awesome?  It was in my very first classroom at this school and it has followed me around to all the other rooms I have been in.  My Dollar Store baskets fit perfectly in it and I love how it works for my library.   All the papers on the white board are the sign ups for Back to School Night (volunteers, fall conferences, holiday parties, etc.)

So that is my first grade classroom.  I spent no more than 3-4 days getting it set up this year.  I have a toddler and I would much rather spend my last summer days with him so I leave up as much as I can and leave a lot of space to add student work.   

Do you have any questions about my room or the routines I have?  Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for stopping by! 

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