I think that sometimes when I tell people that I teach preschool, and then go on to explain that it is in my home, they doubt its legitimacy. I get a lot of raised eyebrows and questions such as, “so it’s a daycare?” No, it’s not a daycare. No, it’s not in a dark room in my basement. It is a real preschool where real learning takes place through play.
These classroom pictures have been updated in 2017. Please click HERE for an updated tour of our school!
Maybe a few pictures will help?!
The circle time carpet is our main meeting spot. It’s where we do our morning work, sing “Hello” and have our mini-lessons. It also houses our extensive classroom library, helper chart, calendar, and daily schedule.
Our Pre-K students love to have jobs in the classroom. The cards for this chart are from PreKinders (here).
Over the years, we have tried different methods for sitting on the carpet. This is what works best for us… labeled squares. It’s routine and predictable, and the students thrive on routine and predictability. Plus, it has the added advantage of defining a clear personal space so we rarely have kids sitting on top of each other.
Most of the students’ time is spent working on centers. The teachers set up the centers with learning goals in mind. Some centers change daily, some are weekly, and some stay the same for most of the year. The students are free to choose their centers and move around the room at their own pace during center time.
This collage shows our basic Block center set-up: large hollow wooden blocks, colorful cardboard bricks, and standard unit blocks. During the course of the year, we add lots of things to this center: traffic signs, cars, trains, people, animals, etc.
The bathroom shower is used for storage. We have three of these hanging “Fangst” shelves from IKEA. Each one is labeled with a student’s name and holds a complete change of clothes for the child. Behind the hanging storage, we stock extra paper towels, TP, wipes, etc. (We have to make every available nook & cranny count!)
This is one of the areas that is still very much in progress. On the left is our Science Center. We change it weekly. This idea also came from PreKinders. She has so many perfect science center ideas for preschoolers.
The writing center has paper, envelopes, pencils, crayons, magna doodles and more. The students seem to use it more at the end of the year, so we are working on introducing it now. You can also see a bit of our painting easel on the other side of the writing center.
Here’s grand central station. I hesitated to post this picture because it shows our mess. But then I thought, guess what… it’s preschool. It is a bustling, busy place run by 4-year-olds. It is messy! The teachers’ desk is on the left. Our sign-in sheets and plan book are always there. Most of the time we have to move piles of books and papers to get to them.
I adore the ceramic plates that I have received from each graduating class. They have little pictures of each student, with a sweet message on the back. They might be my favorite part of the room. On the right is our working counter where we prep snack, set out art supplies and other materials. The door to our scary storage closet it also on the right. It’s a catch-all!
Very early on, we got tired of answering the “What’s for snack?” questions 10 times per day! The students refer to this board all the time, and the snack helper uses it to determine how many cups and napkins to get out when it’s his turn to set the table.
Finally, when it is time to go outside for recess or to go home at the end of class, this is how we line up. The older Pre-K kids have numbers next to their job on the helper chart. They stand on that footprint on the floor. The younger kids find the color of the footprints on the bottom of their cubby (where they store their shoes during the day) and stand on a matching color. Then the partners hold hands. The first year of preschool (2005-06) we did not have this system and getting the kids to line up was like herding cats. This works much better!
Finally, I want to share a picture of my beautiful classroom at the end of centers on one particularly busy, fun day. The students were selling apples at our market stand. I just didn’t want anyone to finish reading this post and think that it is always shiny and clean. 🙂
So that’s the end of the tour. I hope that it shows that Play to Learn is a real, not-a-dungeon, not-a-daycare, preschool. 🙂
If you’re local to Loudoun (Leesburg/Ashburn), we would love to invite you to come in and see it for yourself. Click HERE for more information!