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!

by Elisa Sanders

We always start out the day with our "Good Day" song: "Good day everybody, good day everybody, good day, good day, good day! Let's Smile everybody, let's Smile everybody, let's chase those frown's away!  Shake hands everybody, shake hands everybody, let's make new friends today!" While singing this they smile, put their "frowns" over their shoulders and hold hands as a group. Both of my classes of 3 and 4 year olds LOVE this song. It is a great way to start our day!  We also feature a "Star of the Week" (each child gets a turn at least twice per year) where the "star" will lead us through the calendar, the weather, and we count how many friends are here today (attendance).  Attendance is taken by holding up a card with the child's name (4 year old's) or name and picture (3 year old's) and once the child recognizes their name, we sing: "John is here today, John is here today, we all clap together John is here today!" The kids really love it when their card comes up and the kids sing for them. Our group time features a LOT of singing. We have a "days of the week" song, a song for every month (courtesy of Scholastic), and a song for the weather. The more interactive the group time is, the longer I can hold their attention!

by Denise Hull

In my classroom (16mos - 3yr olds) to start every day we look to see who our class helpers are going to be for the day. I open up my direction center, and we all sing "Twinkle, Twinkle little stars look at who our helpers are". Then we name off who will be the door holder, the line leader, the calendar helper, the weather person, and the special helper for the day. They all know that they will all get a turn to do each job, as helpers names are rotated daily.  The children are excited and eager to participate by doing their "job". The calendar helper gets to lead the group in counting the number of days and selecting the correct colored card to complete our pattern (changes monthly). We sing "What's the weather, what's the weather, what's the weather like today?, is it sunny, is it cloudy, tell us (insert helper's name) what's the weather". The weather helper then turns the dial on our weather spinner to the correct picture and tells their friends what picture they chose. I also break up circle time by adding in Dr. Jean's "lettercise" so children are not sitting for the entire time. We stand up and punch out the letters with Dr. Jean while I turn cards programmed with letters of the Alphabet. 

by Jayne Cobern

We start every day with circle time beginning with a rhythm song. The song starts slowly and an action is built in each time you sing. This helps student to focus and get moving and brings a smile to their faces. After this, we pass around our kindergarten bear (or other object) and students say something based on a prompt (tell me about your weekend, your favorite thing to do in the snow etc.). Then we get up, wiggle and turn to the board for our morning message. It's a great way to start the day. I am here and you are here and we are here together I am here and you are here and we're gonna have some fun (clap on last 3 words) We're going to clap our hands (clap on last 3 words) I am here and you are here and we are here together I am here and you are here and we're gonna have some fun (clap on last 3 words) We're going to clap our hands (clap on last 3 words) We're going to stomp our feet (stomp on last 3 words)   repeat the last group but add... We're going to shrug our shoulders (shrug on last 3 words) repeat last group but add... We're going to wiggle our fingers (wiggle on last 3 words)   end with I am here and you are here and we are here together, I am here and you are here and we'e gonna have some fun (clap on last 3 words)  

by Delsheree Gladden

Every week we learn a new letter. To practice the sound and build vocabulary, each week I have several cards with the picture and word of something starting with the letter we're learning. I hold up the cards one at a time and let the students take turns telling the class what it is and sticking it to the chalkboard. As we learn the new words we practice saying the letter sound and the students try to think of other words that start with that week's letter. Later in the week we use the same pictures and words to play memory-matching the pictures only for my youngest preschoolers and the word to the picture for my older ones. 

by Noreen Ann Traxler

As my Kinders enter our room, they place their homework folders in a designated bin and go directly to the rug and sit down. They chat with their friends for a few minutes. I then begin to sing to them, "Good Morning to you"  (same tune as Happy Birthday) in a very soft quiet voice. I often add verses to indicate special events. For example, I might sing, "We're having a birthday today. So get ready to eat cupcakes!"  or, "Today is our gym day. I hope you have your shoes!" Once I begin to sing, the children become very quiet and listen.  They then respond with their own "Good Morning" song. We spend a few minutes sharing things that have happened, allowing all who want to share to do so.  Next on the agenda is the recitation of the ABC's saying the letter, sound, and a word with the same beginning sound. My children all have jobs (and there are 30 of them!) One of the jobs is for a child to use the "big" pointer and point to the letters, another child leads the class in the recitation. We then sing our "Days of the Week" and our "Months of the Year" songs while two other children lead these segments.  We then do the calendar - using patterns, number sense, ordinal number recognition, and date writing in the air!  Next, we do our phonemic awareness activities - onsets and rimes or rhyming words or word families. We end our rug time - 15-20 minutes - by lining up for the bathroom and then onto our special classes. I call my class to line either by letter or by sounds. For example, I say, "If your first (or last) name starts with the /d/ sound, you may get in line." I continue until all are in line. My Kinders love routine! This one goes very smoothly and we are learning about letters, sounds, numbers, and one another all at the same time. P.S. The 30 jobs span the week/day and do not all take place during Group Time!