Congratulations to the winners of our Early Childhood Winning Ideas Monthly Contest! Each of these entrants - teachers just like you - won $50 in Scholastic products for sharing their ideas. Thanks to everyone who submitted to the contest. And remember to check the latest contest topic for more chances to win!

1. Friend Book

by Cheryl Smith

After we have settled in the first week , I send home a posterboard strength paper (about the size of half sheet of poster board). I let the child choose the color. Along with this are instructions for the parent to help their child create a "me " page. On the instructions I tell the parents if they need to borrow, magazines, glue sticks, stickers etc. to just ask. At the top of the page print the child's full name & birthdate. Attach a baby picture, current picture & family picture (if possible). If the parents do not have photos I volunteer to take the current & family photo for them. Then add  the child's favorite foods, favorite movie, favorite thing to play, etc. Add pets & other members of household. They return these the next week or 2, if they need more time. I laminate all of these & attach together with a ring. I make a page for me also. The cover page says "Friends".

The kids love our special book and at family gatherings the parents love to look at it also to get to know each other.

2.Treasure Hunt

By Maureen Ryan

We like to play a treasure hunt game where I will hide in the room some pre-made feeling faces and have the children come in the room and search for a face, then find the classmate that has the same feeling face as them (happy, sad, excited, etc...), come back to circle talk with their friend, and then share as a group a time they felt that way. It is a fun game to follow up a book about feelings, such as How Are You Peeling. I teach kindergarten and the kids always have fun with this activity.

 3. Learning with Graphs

By Pat Petrino

I teach kindergarten, and use songs like "Mary Wore a Red Dress" and "Good Morning" using the children's names in the songs. We also play a name game with a squishy ball, which I throw to a child while saying his/her name. They throw back to me, and we continue until everyone has a turn. It's very simple but they ask to play it over and over.

I also use graphs to incorporate some of our math standards into the getting acquainted period. We make large graphs on butcher paper, a different one each day. Some examples of our graphs are "How We Get to School"(bus, car, or walk); Favorite Color; Number of Letters in our Names (I give them a strip of 1" grid paper to write their names, so they will be uniform for measuring); Favorite Fruit; Number of Brothers and Sisters, and so on. The possibilities are endless. While making the graphs, we are counting, sorting, classifying, and comparing. We learn the meaning of words like "most" and "least." The kids draw pictures of the favorites and dictate so I can label their pictures as part of these graph projects. This is a fun way to learn more about each other while learning math and language skills, too!

4. Me Bags!

By Natalie Fitzgerald

I start out each school year by introducing myself with a "Me Bag". I include pictures of my family, pets, favorite food and favorite outings, my favorite book, my favorite color, items I collect, etc. I pass each item around for the students to observe and allow each child to ask me a question. Then, I teach the children my name. I have it written on a sentence strip and also have a magnetic letter for each letter in my name. We say each letter, say each sound, count the letters, clap for the syllables, then match the magnetic letters to each letter in my name.  Finally, my name goes on our word wall along with my picture. 

I send out a "Me Bag" for each of my students to put together and we repeat this process with one child per day until all of the students have their name on the word wall and have introduced themselves to the class. At the end of our unit, we each make replicas of ourselves out of paper dolls which we display proudly on our "Classroom Family" bulletin board! 

5. Who Are You?

By Robyn Benjamin

I teach special needs kindergarten so we must spend a little more time learning who is in our class. The first day, I take close up face shots on the digital, transfer them to a word doc. with all faces on the page, put first names under each child and lines across the page for cutting out. Then print out enough copies for each child. The kids cut them out and put them on the table in front of them in their small groups time. I say, find "Lucy" and they hold up the picture. After a few rounds, they glue the pictures on a large pre-printed bingo board. I call out a name, and they put a chip on the correct picture. The boards are good for play all week. We laminate the boards for durability. They are then stapled into the front of their daily take-home folders, where they will remain throughout the year. This way, parents can also learn who the kids in our class are with their child.