Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Pocket Charts: Creative Ways to Organize Your Pre-K Classroom!

           In my elementary school teaching days, I used a lot of pocket charts. You know, the huge deep blue ones that cost a ton of money each. They were useful for writing things on sentence strips. They were also used for calendars and other classroom activities. However, when I switched to Pre-K, I found they took up space I didn't have, and I couldn't use them in the same way.
           Recently, I have fallen in love with the smaller, colorful, cheaper pocket charts. I find that they are more useful in a Pre-K setting. AND they are only $1 each! They are available at your local Target Dollar Spot for Back to School, or even sometimes at Dollar Tree in the teacher section. I have come up with several ways to use them in the classroom to aid in organization, as well as integrating them into the classroom routine.

            1. Job Chart
                *To make this chart, I bought the colored strips that fit this chart, also just $1. Then I found clip art online to match each job that I had. I attached the picture to the strip And then wrote the title next to each. I hung them side by side because of the location I wanted it to be. Then I added the "Helping Hands" border at the end.

            2. Schedule
                * This is a visual schedule for the students to manipulate each day. I started by writing down each main section of our day. I left off the clock time to allow for adjustment. It makes it easier to move the activities in case of an early release day or special events. Besides, most 4 year olds understand time as a sequence of events, not numbers on a clock. I added pictures of my students doing each activity to help them "read" each part of the day. To finish it off, I added a clock border. The student with the job of "Time Keeper" moves the car down the schedule throughout the day. I have it located near my circle time area so that it is easy for everyone to see.

         3. Small Group Organization
             *This pocket chart is located at our circle time. We review it each morning meeting so the students know which small group activity to go to for the day, following our morning meeting. I have the teacher names for the two teacher directed activities. Then I draw pictures of the independent activities. For the most part, every student does every activity through the week, though sometimes modified for their needs. Each day I rotate the activity cards by moving it up one row. I use the students pictures (index size and laminated) to make up each group. This makes it easy to switch out students so that the groups can be arranged by ability. I change groups at least monthly based on the growth of individuals.

         4. Center Signs
             *These charts are located in each center. For the first few months of school, they will be used to show the name of the center and show pictures of what can be done in each center. Pictured below is the one for the Block Center. We will go over the chart during the first few weeks of school during our small groups times. This is where we take a smaller group and introduce each center, the materials in it, how to use it, and how to clean up.

                *After we are well into the routines of the classroom (2-3 months into school), we will turn the center signs into various pocket chart games. I will post another article once we are into school to show different types of games I use.

         So RUN, don't walk, to your local Target to stock up on these great pocket charts! I mostly chose the blue charts to go with my wall color,  but there are more colors. Even if you still don't have an idea for them yet, get them. They do go quickly!