It is that time of year again- the days are getting shorter and the excitement is growing for the school year ahead. Our class lists are full, and our lists of things to do is long.
First things first- time to get organized! Before we can think about decorating our beautiful classrooms and welcoming little children, we need to process the end of last year and look forward to what is to come.
Warning- the following image may be disturbing!
The past few years, we have taken time over the summer to prepare what we call the “blue box” for all of our units. We put books, toys, puzzles, games, etc. into these tubs and label them with the name of the unit. I store everything in an upper room at our house and then transport the box to the school when that unit comes, because our storage space is so limited at the school. Our storage room (attic like space) happens to be off of our sons bedroom, which means my children sometimes get things out or throw their own items into the mix, resulting in a scene like this!
Having the blue boxes does help, but we noticed that sometimes materials are needed for more than one unit and then there are manipulatives or science materials that don’t go with any unit, but are needed throughout the year. We also have some units that are complete, but not necessarily on the list of units for this school year. So, this year I decided we would try something new- SHELVES!
And with the snap of a finger, it goes from crazy to organized… Ha ha, I wish! But honestly, it took the better part of a day and it is so much more functional. We have other units aside from this current year’s line-up, bins for manipulatives, shelves for our puzzles and games that don’t necessarily go with a unit, science and math materials, more books, dramatic play items, and all of our posters very organized and accessible.
Now, to the blue boxes!
I begin with the printed list of units from the Mother Goose Time website or promotional materials. This is our third cycle with this curriculum company, so many of these units are well prepared as far as books, puzzles, toys, etc.
Looking at the list of what we will be studying, I begin placing relevant items into the box for that unit. Sometimes I find books and materials from past units that are still usable and relevant to a new unit. This puzzle and the coordinating book, “Bella and the Umbrella” was from the “Community Helpers” unit (2016) I believe, but is perfect for the “Weather All Around Us” unit (October 2017).
After I get each box packed, I label the boxes with the month, title, the 4 weekly themes, and the letters and numbers that will be the focus of that month. Then I line them up in order and they are ready to roll!
Here is a little bit about what is in September’s box for “My Amazing Body”! The focus topics for this unit are “My Body Parts”, “My Five Senses”, “Staying Healthy”, and “Getting Dressed”.
All of these materials will be spread out between the three older classes and a few items will work for our Infants and Wobblers too.
We love to read, so we have a collection of books that will be divided among the classes and we will add books from the library from the Suggested Book List provided on the Mother Goose Time Website, and throughout the Lesson Plan books.
Some units have more books/materials than will reasonably fit into one “Blue Box” but once it is all packed up, we are ready to take it into the classroom!
Having this task of sorting and organizing done ahead of time makes it possible for us to switch out units quickly, keeping our children excited about what they will learn next. It is a good process to see what we have and maybe fill in if there is a unit that is lacking materials. Our program has grown a lot in the past two years, so the last time we did this year’s cycle of units, we had 1 class and now we have 5, meaning we may need more materials, or something that is appropriate for a different age group. Now we know what we have available and we have time to fill in what we may still need (and if my own children get into the preschool materials, we will at least know where they go back.)
It is a good regroup as we focus our hearts/minds on the children that will fill our school and the exciting year ahead!