Friday, April 1, 2016

Quiet Boxes

     For those of us who teach Pre-K, one of the stressful times of the day is rest time. Many of your students sleep, but then there are those who just can't be still or can't be quiet. After all, they are 4 or 5 and their minds are growing and curious! Who can sleep with so much going on?
     There is a solution to creating a quiet rest time. We all know that is the teacher's time to get stuff done! The way I approach it in my classroom is that my students have to rest quietly on their mat for 'half' of rest time (15-30 minutes). Then I pass out boxes with quiet activities in them. While this concept is not my own (I heard it at training many years ago in the Georgia Pre-K Program), I have made it my own, and based on my students' interests. I have used items such as shoe boxes, baby wipe boxes, small food storage containers, and most recently, baby formula cans, to store these quiet activities.
     You may be thinking "I can't do this. It costs too much!" I am here to tell you that it can be very cheap, even free!  All you have to do is collect old containers (food storage, baby wipes, formula cans, cereal boxes, etc) and fill them! You can easily purchase items from either "Dollar Tree" or use items you already have on your shelves! With kids this age, when something is used in a new way, it is exciting!
     I created mine using old formula cans. The newer cans are plastic. Back when my first child was born, (over 10 years ago) the cans were cardboard and round. Now they have a fun oval shape and are a durable plastic.  I covered them one summer in the only contact paper I had at home, which happened to be zebra print. Then all I did was fill them! Below are some ideas you can use that are free (using items in your classroom).

      1. Laminated word cards and Dry Erase Markers (below  is one of my higher students. She enjoyed writing the words and putting them in alphabetical order.) For lower students, they can practice reading the words and using fine motor skills to trace the words.  

     2. Foam blocks/Unifix cubes: The student below first sorted them by color, then created patterns, and finally built with them.
      3. Shape Erasers: First this student sorted them into piles. Then he stacked them by kind. Finally he acted out stories with the various shapes.

     The possibilities are endless! Below are some more suggestions of how to fill your Quiet Boxes:
                      -Word cards and magnet letters to spell out the words
                      -Counting games
                      -Note pads and writing tools
                      -Small puzzles or various sizes (24-100 pieces)
                      -MINI BOOKS: I copy mini books based on letters, numbers, themes, or sight words. Some years I send them home. Others, I have students keep them in a small food storage box and they can use them at rest time to color, read, or circle sight words.

     The option to my students is simple: You get one box for rest time. You can either use the box and be creative and have fun, or you can close it and rest. I have enough boxes so that my students don't get the same box twice in a month. When they are faced with sleeping or using a box creatively, the possibilities are endless!

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