Thursday, August 27, 2015

Classroom Tour

If you are like me, the first week of school was a total blur!
After weeks spent preparing, I finally met the 18 sweet little ones that will be my world for the next 9 months. We've spent the last week and a half  learning about each other, our classroom procedures, and having lots of fun playing together.

Since we are beginning to settle into a routine of sorts, I feel like I can finally squeeze in a few minutes to post the photos of  my (almost) complete classroom.

I say "almost" because my classroom d├ęcor will evolve during the year as I add more student-created art and projects.

Every Junior Kindergarten/Preschool classroom should look like the little ones who call it their home-away-from-home.

With that in mind, here is what it currently looks like:

There are two metal bookshelves placed side-by-side beneath the bulletin board. I use them to house my teaching curriculum and student portfolios. The curtains I made have two jobs: 1.They keep all my important goodies from curious little hands
2. They make me happy.

I've wanted to have a Focus Board for a while now, and decided to create one this year. I found some gigantic wiggle eyes at Joann about a year ago and literally gasped when I saw them. Then I bought them. I'm 100% obsessed with wiggle eyes...and... I think it's pretty clear that gigantic wiggle eyes are the best kind of wiggle eyes. There was no question that they would be mine.

One year later, I finally found the perfect spot for those cuties.

Last year, I ditched my huge teacher desk in favor of a horseshoe desk.
I'm so glad I did.
I use it as an extra space to work with my students, and I hide all my stuff (my rain boots, an umbrella, my teacher bag, and a myriad of other things) in bins and shelves behind the table skirt. The best part is that I'm not storing a bunch of junk I don't need inside those cavernous drawers.  

The bookshelf next to my desk houses the one million smelly markers that I can't stop collecting.
Can't. Stop. 
It also holds my papers and supplies for the week.
Our classroom rules are posted on the wall next to my teacher desk.
I used my two large, wooden shelves and the sand/sensory table to divide the room into sections for quiet centers and louder centers.
As a preschool teacher, I realize that there is no such thing as "quiet" centers.
All are one volume.
But the attempt was made.

Currently, this area is being used as a Writing and Listening Center. I keep crayons, papers, and supplies on the rack/shelf next to the table. I plan on changing the words on our pocket chart seasonally and according to what we are studying.

You may have noticed that our classroom has a "Pete the Cat" theme to it. My little guys are obsessed with Pete. Our classroom incentive/behavior chart is Pete themed too. I'll talk more about that in future posts.

The Housekeeping/Pretend Play Center is kind of a work in progress. A table and chairs has been ordered for my classroom, but they haven't arrived yet. The bright side of their delayed arrival is that the students have lots of room for play in this center.

Can you believe that I found that mirrored window at Marshall's? I completely freaked out when I found it. Then I looked around to see if anyone else saw me.

It is perfection.

I catch the girls looking at themselves in their dress-up clothes all the time. It's so cute.

This little Reading Center may be my favorite place in the whole room. I mean, look at that itty bitty furniture. I die.

I added a few snuggly reading buddies in a large, plastic bin from Michael's, The tiny lamp is from At Home. I hot-glued a little pom-pom fringe to the shade to make it cuter. I'm planning on turning the lamp into one of those "touch" lamps later so that the students can turn it on when they go to Reading Center.

Finally, there's this:

This is the first thing that I see when I walk into my classroom every day. Those three little posters help me focus on the things that are really important about my job. It's easy to let the day's stress and activities keep me from focusing on the real reason that I do what you do. I find that surrounding myself with a few reminders really helps.

That's it.
For now.
Thanks for taking a peek!

blue cat clip art
shapes posters
alphabet anchor charts
blue/yellow plastic baskets and bins
class rules
calendar pieces
alphabet posters

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Rainbow Rice

It's Summer and I am feeling delusional, y'all.

Summer optimism's got me feeling like I can do all kinds of things.
Things like starting a new blog, working extra hours at summer camp, finally cleaning out my fridge, actually cooking a real dinner for my family, washing AND folding and putting away all of the laundry, organizing my school supplies into neatly labeled boxes, reading a zillion books, and doing loads of school crafting. There's more on my list, but you get the point.

I will most certainly live to regret this crazy summer ambition when August rolls around and I have a million incomplete projects sitting on my dining room table, but for now, I'm pushing ahead with my delusions of grandeur.

This year, I will transition from teaching a Senior Kindergarten class to a Junior Kindergarten class. Junior Kindergarten at my school is a full day 4-year-old Preschool class designed to prepare students for Kindergarten.

In anticipation of my upcoming adventure, I've pinned approximately one million pins into my Sensory Play Board on Pinterest.
I may have a problem.
I can't stop the pinning. Can't stop.
If you don't believe me, check it out.

This week, I decided to quit pinning and start doing (even if I do it wrong).
First project: making a batch or 10 of Rainbow Rice.

Ready for the good news?
You can't do it wrong.

Here's what I gathered for the project:
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Food Coloring (basic and neon)
  • Long Grain Rice (uncooked in bags)

Additional Items (not pictured):
  • Gallon Sized Zip-Lock Bags
  • Plates
  • Parchment Paper

The Easy Peasy Directions:

Pour 2 cups of rice into a Zip-Lock Bag

If you're a Smarty Pants, you'll measure 1 teaspoon of your choice of food coloring before pouring it into the bag of rice. If you are like me, you'll just squeeze a bunch of drops in until it looks like this:

Measure (or don't) 2 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol and pour that into the bag with the food coloring and rice and seal the bag closed. Be sure to release all the air from the bag before sealing it.

Get a super cute helper to squeeze the bag until the color is completely blended into the rice. If, while you are squeezing, you notice that the color doesn't appear to be as saturated as you were hoping, just add more food coloring and rubbing alcohol.

It will be OK. I promise.

Place a sheet of parchment paper over a plate and let the rice air dry for a few hours. Make sure that the parchment paper hangs over the plates just a little bit.

When the rice is dry to the touch, you are ready to pour it back into your zip lock bag for storage.

Grab three of the corners of the parchment paper and make them meet in the middle to form a funnel. This will make it much easier to pour without spilling the rice everywhere.

 And there you go.

So nice and easy and soooo pretty!

Stop by later and I'll show you all the fun ways we use Rainbow Rice in our classroom. I can't wait!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

About Jennifer


I'm Jennifer Tillman. I'm a pastor's wife, mom to two precious kiddos, and an Early Elementary Educator living in Memphis, Tennessee.

I've taught in First Grade, Preschool, and Kindergarten classrooms during my teaching career and am currently teaching Junior Kindergarten at a private Christian school.

I love creating opportunities for my students to dive into learning through play. I am passionate about teaching little ones to love learning, love others, and love Jesus.

Some of my favorite things are: being with my family, really good conversation, crafting, Christmas, reading a great book, watching reality T.V., meeting new people, pinning all the pins on Pinterest, scented markers, and all things Dolly Parton.

And now you know it all.

Thanks for stopping by! Let's be friends! Join me on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.