Our daily routines are not only how we go through the day, it includes the preparation of the environment as well. If my assistant and I have prepared the environment in such a way that it actually assists with our routines, we are providing a sense of security for our children. They have come to expect the Daily Job chart will be ready for them upon arrival. After they say good-bye to their parent, they stop by the job chart and choose how they will be helpful to their classroom community. There are a few coveted jobs and so they are eager to clip their name on them before they are chosen by someone else.
As much as possible, we keep the daily schedule the same. This too, provides a sense of security as the children mark the order of their day by it. They may not be able to tell time on a clock yet, however they know that Jesus Time comes after lunch every day. They are also beginning to ask if it is the “end of the day yet?” Free reading time always comes at the end of the day, just prior to saying good-bye, so the end of the day has arrived, they only need reassurance.
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S.T.E.A.M stations, the job chart and our Morning Message board are set-up at the end of the school day so everything is ready to go in the morning. We believe that children need time to play out their ideas during long, uninterrupted periods of time. There is quite a bit of time for this type of play/learning prior to Circle Time and again afterwards. Our Mother Goose Time curriculum provides us with ideas to set up our S.T.E.A.M stations and we allow the children to access the materials all day.
A Word About Transitions
The light helper turns off the light when it is time to clean up and get ready for the next activity. This comes from having at least 45 minutes to an hour of free-choice activity time.
If I need the children’s attention, I will say, “Friends, friends.” The children know to answer, “Yes, yes” and look at me.
“Everybody Have a Seat on The Floor” is sung to gather the children to our Circle Time area.
Arrival and S.T.E.A.M Stations Open
As mentioned above, we set these up the night before. Here are a few examples:
We begin with the Circle Time song that came in our curriculum kit at the beginning of the school year. This allows children to get their wiggles out before having to sit and participate in the rest of Circle Time. We redirect children who may make poor choices such as pushing by saying, “Try this, Sarah” or “Can you do this with your arms, Drew?”
The Calendar Helper will add the next number, guide us through the Days of the Week song and the pattern on the calendar. The Weather Helper adds the appropriate weather piece above Mother Goose on our Circle Time display.
Morning Message and Who’s Here Today?
The Morning Message is read at Circle Time. Concepts of print are being taught as I read the message aloud, pointing to the words as I go. We place names of the absent children in the heart and say, “We will keep _______ in our hearts today.” The children talk about this one little part of our day quite often, so we can see that it is important to them. It isn’t unusual for a child to come to me prior to Circle Time and tell me that we should put someone’s name in the heart.
Snack is open for a period of time in the morning and children are encouraged to listen to their bodies. If they are hungry, they know what they must do: wash hands, get a napkin and serve themselves a healthy snack. We give a reminder prior to closing the snack table. Children who ate just prior to school tend to be hungry toward the end of snack time, so this works out well.
A few examples from our Egg day during the Baby Animals theme.
My assistant has the younger children and I have the older children who will go to kindergarten in the fall.
Father Michael is known to stop by and say hello while offering a helping hand.
We have Jesus Time in the classroom every day except Wednesday, which is when we go to Mass. We light a candle, signifying this is a special time. We sing “We Gather Here Together,” listen to a Bible story, do a movement based song, then pray and extinguish the candle.
Children rest on nap mats for 45 minutes to an hour.
In the fall and spring we go outdoors twice a day. In the winter, we only go outside in the afternoon.
We alternate the types of activities we do. If we worked on a math activity in the morning skill time, then we may do a handwriting activity in the afternoon. These activities are mapped out in the Teacher’s Guide in the “notes” section.
Snack is eaten together in the afternoon as we do not have the luxury of time as in the morning.
End of the Day
Books are “open” as we say in the last few minutes of the day and occasionally we will provide paper and crayons for drawing.
What a busy day, full of learning!
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