Jennifer White teaches kindergarten at Appalachian Elementary in Oneonta, Alabama. She believes learning should be both relevant and fun. “My classroom is an extension of this, and it is my home away from home. Even on the dreariest or most stressful day, my students and I enter our room and smile.” White shares her ideas through Instagram and on her blog, First and Kinder Blue Skies. Sharing ideas “has taught me almost as much as my 20 years in the classroom—there is no substitute for learning from other teachers!”
Write Now! Door
Each Monday we start with a clean door, and during the week, as we read words, we write them in colored chalk. Kids scour books from their bins to try to find words they haven’t written before so that they can add them. Cleaning the black chalk–painted door is a breeze!
This is the kids’ favorite place in our classroom. It’s stocked with books and games, and comfy pillows and beanbags make learning a relaxed experience. It isn’t limited to reading and station activities. We also use the loft as a stage for Readers Theater and as a math station choice.
Book Buddy Bin
Kids can borrow a “buddy” to read to while in the loft or at their seat during certain periods. The buddies also inspire writing. “I’m going to write a story about the adventures of Spot and Pig today!” said one student. “I wonder what they learned at your desk,” another said.
Students write on sticky notes about what makes the books here “must reads.” One note says, “I like this book so much. The girl is funny!” Kids take ownership of their reading by sharing their recommendations, and readers love choosing books based on their friends’ opinions.
We use our brightly colored interactive number chart to count the days in school, to identify numbers that come before and after, and to do skip counting. Students can also come up to the board and take a number card to their seat if they need help writing or identifying numbers.
It can be difficult to keep up with who has had a turn and who hasn’t during class activities. Students’ names are on the backs of the Lucky Ducks. When you have had your turn, your Lucky Duck is put aside until everyone else has had a turn, and then they all go back in the bucket.
Photos: Rob Culpepper