I've moved! You can now find this blog at www.teachingthelittlepeople.com. Please bookmark this new site and come on over!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Day #3: My Themed Unit Boxes

In my last post I talked about the Unit Theme Numbering System that I inherited from my mother, and how much it helps me keep my teaching materials organized.  I file all of my papers and books with this system.

However, I have a number of teaching items that I do not file with the number system.  These are my larger items, such as all the puzzles, things to sort, props, etc. from each theme.  These I put into my Theme Unit Boxes.

My favorite type of boxes are the clear, plastic boxes that can actually hold hanging files.  However, they tend to be a little expensive.  A few Christmases ago when they were on sale I used some gift money to buy about 20 of them.  However, I always seem to be gaining stuff, so I quickly fall back on cardboard boxes for all of the overflow.

Here the clear plastic boxes are, all stacked up and ready to go in my garage:

As I mentioned above, I usually find myself accumulating more stuff than will go in one of these boxes.  So while I am waiting to buy more plastic boxes (or until I sort out enough stuff to make everything fit together in one box), I will put extra themed items in cardboard boxes.  While doing this, I find that these are two of my favorite tools: Post it label tape and a Sharpie.

Here are the tape labels in action:

What I most often do when I find that I need another box is to make the cardboard box a temporary one.  I add a label with the post-it tape, and then add a second label that tells me that this cardboard box is one of two boxes that I have for this theme (in this case, one of two farm boxes).

I then stick another label on the original theme box to remind myself that I have two farm boxes now:

If later I decide that I really am going to keep two or more boxes from one theme, I add the "1 of 2" or "2 of 2" markings to the actually "fancy" theme label, as shown here:

The theme labels are ones that I made  on the computer.  After I made this first set (shown in the photographs), I later went back and re-designed them. The redesigned ones I now sell in my teacher stores.  Here's how they look:

You can purchase these labels here and here, for only $2 for all 29 labels. 

Those are my unit boxes, which help me keep my bigger teaching items in order.  

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Day #2: My Teaching Unit Numbering System for Preschool Units

I am one of those lucky preschool teachers who is still able to teach from unit themes - and themes that I as the teacher can choose.  We do "Back to School" and "Fall" and "Apples" and all kinds of other themes.  I think it's wonderful, because we can spend a week or two focusing on a subject that I know is relevant to the Little People, and then we move on to something else. If we really like something we might stick with it for a little longer, and if they kids seem to have some special interest we can switch and spend some time learning about that.

As a result, most of my teaching stuff is theme-related.  It's how I organize my teaching files, my books, and of course my unit boxes. To make this organization easier, I use a Teaching Unit Numbering System.  I got this from my mom - perhaps I should ask her where she got it from.

Basically it is a list of common preschool teaching themes or units assigned a number.  Then I use these numbers to organize my teaching paraphernalia.

Let me give you the list, and then I can talk more about how I use it.

My Teaching Unit Numbering System

Manners (002)
Science – General (010)
Colors (015)
Sound/Music (017)
Mechanical (020)
Math – General (028)
Math – Counting (030)
Math – Shapes (031)
Math – Patterns (032)
Math – Sorting (033)
Math – Comparing (034)
Math – Money (035)
Math – Position Words (036)
Math – Time (037)
Math – Fractions (038)
Plants - General (040)
Plants – Seeds (041)
Plants - Trees (042)
Plants – Flowers (043)
Animals (050)
Birds (051)
Insects (052)
Bears (053)
Dinosaurs (054)
Water Animals (055)
Pets (056)
Reptiles (057)
Spiders (058)
Stories about Animals (059)
Water (060)
Fish (061)
Jungle (062)
Zoo (063)
Ecology/Ecosystems (065)
Rocks and Minerals (070)
Moon/Stars/Space/Night (075)
Days/Months (078)
Seasons/Weather (080)
Autumn (081)
Winter (082)
Spring (093)
Summer (084)
Days/Sun/Sunny Weather (085)
Wind (086)
Rain/Storms (087)
All About Me (088)
Body/Bones (090)
Taste/Touch (091)
Ears/Hearing (092)
Eyes/Vision (093)
Growing (094)
Feelings (095)
Care for Bodies (096)
Feet (097)
Hands/Touch (098)
Mouth/Teeth (099)
Five Senses (100)
Stories (110)
Poetry/Rhyming (111)
Alphabet/Letters (112)
Mother Goose/Nursery Rhymes (113)
Fables/Folk Tales (114)
Songs (115)
Food (120)
Apples (121)
Clothes (130)
Quilts (132)
Castles/Knights (134)
Pirates (136)
Community Helpers (140)
Farm (141)
Ranch/Cowhands (142)
Dentist (143)
Police Officer (144)
Grocery Store (145)
Houses/Building/Tools (146)
Firefighters (148)
Doctors/Hospitals (149)
Safety (150)
Cities (155)
Mail/Post Office (156)
Transportation (160)
Families (170)
Back to School (174)
School (175)
End of the School Year (176)
Friends (181)
Helping (182)
Sharing (183)
Sports (184)
Special Days (190)
Birthdays (191)
Circus/Fairs (192)
Halloween (193)
Thanksgiving (194)
Christmas (195)
Valentines (196)
Easter (197)
African American (198)
Hispanic/Cinco de Mayo (199)
Multicultural (200)
Disabilities (201)
Maps (202)
Wordless Books (300)
Everyday Words (318)

How I use this system:

Filing Papers:  I will copy and paste these units and numbers into a Label template in Word and then print them off on label sheets.  Then I add the labels to file folders so I have a folder for each theme (although some themes end up with more than one folder).  These are organized in my filing cabinet in numerical order, making it easy to find which unit I need.

Books: I also label all of my books with these numbers.  My mom used to just write the number right on the book, but I put the numbers on small white labels and put the label on the front left corner of the book.  I used to put the on the top right corner, until I realized that when I pulled a book out of the bookshelf, I couldn't see the number until the book was almost all the way pulled out.  So then I switched to putting the on the top left corner.  Now I can see them right away when I thumb through the books in the bookshelf.

Here you can see a book with labels on both corners.  I need to take that top left one off.

Book Database: I also use these numbers as a field in my book database, as well.  I enter in that theme number along with the title, author,  and format (regular-sized or big book).  Therefore, whenever I am at the computer and want to know which books I have that have to do with Farm, I just do a search for 141 books, and there they all are!

Big Books: My big books are also labeled with numbers, as well.  As you can see on the book below, I finally settled on the top right corner of the big books as the location for the number sticker.  

That's because I store my big books in a large Rubbermaid-type container, and most of them lie on their spine.   So when they're in the container, I can see the numbers easily when I flip through them:

Multi-Subject Books:  Sometimes it is easy to assign a book to a category, and sometimes it's not.  Sometimes books have more than one category.  Take "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", for example.  It's not only about insects (052), but also about days of the week (037).  What I do for books like these is to put both themes on the label, but to write the theme that I'm most likely to use the book for first.  Therefore, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" would say 052/037, and I would file it in the (052) section.   

This is often an issue for ABC and counting books.  I almost always file these by their theme subject (if they have one).  For example, if I have a book of A-Z Transportation vehicles, I will label it 160/112, and file it with the Transportation books (160).  That's because I like to have A-Z books for as many themes as I can, and will use that book with that theme.

You have my permission to copy this list and make it your own.  Perhaps you have some themes that I don't have, or the other way around.  Hopefully it will help you organize your materials and make all that Teacher Stuff a little less overwhelming.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Oh, all the Teacher Stuff...

I've been spending a some time in my garage lately...working with the teacher stuff.  Not too much time, mind you, because it's very hot right now where I live and the garage becomes officially uninhabitable after, say, 7:05 every morning.  Well, actually it's okay after that if you have several fans on out there, but eventually I just find myself standing one spot to absorb as much air as possible, which is not terribly productive....

But I digress.  I'm sure I'm not the only teacher who gets overwhelmed by all of that Teacher Stuff.   Especially at the end of the school year, when I find myself loading up my van with all the odds and ends that I've carried up the classroom over the months.

However, I've come to believe Teacher Stuff if pretty much necessary if you want to be a good preschool teacher.  Even if you have a school district that stocks your classroom well (which I do), there is still extra stuff for sorting and for counting, and for dressing up in...

Therefore, I think that a lot of the issue behind the Teacher Stuff is how to manage it - not whether we should have it at all.

So over the next few days I'm going to talk about organizing the Teacher Stuff - what I find works and what I find does not.

Here's my plan for the next few days:
Day #1: My Teaching Unit Numbering System, which I inherited from my mom (Thanks mom)
Day #2:  My Unit Boxes
Day #3: How to make lesson plans to maximize the use of the Stuff you have
Day #4:  Suggestions for sharing a classroom with another teacher

Hope you'll stop by the next few days!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

New on the Store Shelves: How to Make a Classroom Tree out Paper

Well, the tree tutorials are completed and are on the store shelves.  The first part is "Making a Classroom Tree":

The second is "How to Decorate a Classroom Tree":

Both are full of very detailed instructions and lots and lots of pictures.

You can find ‘Making a Classroom Tree” here  and here, and “Decorating a Classroom Tree” here and here.  Thanks for looking!

As I mentioned before, I will have a Tree Kit Giveaway soon - the plans are to begin the entries on July 23.  Stay tuned for details!