During first two weeks of the school year I like to keep the environment very basic.
I use sunflowers, seashells, watermelon, or other summer type themes. It is summer when we start school and to put out apples and fall leaves now just doesn’t feel right. I think it is important for the children to appreciate the season we are experiencing at the time. Summer things are out to begin the school year with and fall things begin to appear in September, when fall actually begins! Focus is on going over classroom and playground rules. We will also begin talking about character education and have activities that relate. I like to continue with daily reminders about caring for each other and our classroom.
Songs at circle time will be those that encourage learning the name of our friends. Start demonstrating some grace and courtesy lessons (talked about in Practical Life section) during your first circle, such as how to greet others. Discuss rules for circle time; walking around the circle, raising hands, being polite listeners. Talk about work time and the rules for that; walking feet, not disturbing others, how to watch your friends working, one work at a time, rolling up a mat. Go over daily schedule with children, perhaps have it written out with photographs (Circle for circle time, a shelf for work time) and post in on a wall in classroom so children can look at it and know what is to next in their day.
Involve children in helping to make list of the rules for the classroom and the playground. Use a poster board to write them down and post in the room and perhaps by the door used to go outside for playtime. Go over name cards, folders for finished work and unfinished folders for work to be completed at another time.
Have a camera and begin taking photos of each child individually as well as some of them together. Individual photos can be made into a matching work (concentration game also) or a three part matching work including the name of each child. I like to buy small frames and have a shelf that has a plant or flowers on it along with picture frames with pictures of the children. These are changed throughout the year to allow for each child to have a few turns to be on the shelf during the remainder of the school year. Frames can also be changes to correspond with the season. For fall you could have orange, brown, yellow and red frames!
These can be used for discussion of classroom rules. They were part of a poster board and I decided to cut them and make them into cards. I made two sets so they can be put out on the shelf for a matching work.
Friends: caring for each other and our environment.
Review songs, rules, read stories, art activities. On the second day, I would choose a work from practical life and demonstrate it at circle time. You could also demonstrate an art work. This will help pave the way for the lesson during each morning circle that will begin during the second week of school. An idea to also consider, is having new work demonstrated on your last circle of the day and it can be put out the next day. This isn’t always able to be done though when the new work will correspond with your lesson for the day. It is especially helpful with new Practical Life activities or art work. Sometimes the children are so excited about a new work that they tend to ‘stand around waiting’ for their turn and have a hard time concentrating on other work.
I like to have a name card for each child’s first and last name. We use at times for dismissal at circle to go to work, to save a child’s work, and to use with tracing paper to practice writing their entire name. I have also seen other teachers put the front name on one side and the child’s last name on the back. This is good for those younger ones who may feel overwhelmed when trying to trace their entire name!
A little poem I like to have the children say before they get off their chair to put their work away is “Stand up, push in, put away.” This provides just a little help to be sure they push in that chair before putting work away. I also like to have group snack and then introduce a snack table after a few weeks. Beginning with a group snack provides opportunity to talk about polite manners while we are eating. Be sure to take advantage of these times as it builds a pattern of good manners for the child when eating at the table.
During the work time period for the first week, I spend my time guiding the children in their work and helping them to go about the environment. Always be an example of using slow feet and having a calm demeanor in the room (especially when the little pitchers of rice spill all over the floor).
Read the story "How a Book is Made". Discuss the different roles of the author, illustrator, publishers etc. Discuss that the books in our classroom library will be mostly books that are fiction or non-fiction (if you have the space to provide one shelf of each, label the shelves accordingly, if not, perhaps label shelves as fiction or non-fction, so books can be ordered in such a way). Talk with the children about how special books are and the rules for for taking care of the classroom library and respecting books.
Name , Name
Name, name…I’ve got a name and you’ve got a name
(as you go around the circle one child at a time says their name)
Lisa, LI-SA (clap for each syllable and say each child’s name according to syllables in the name while singing LI-SA
(repeat) Name, name I’ve got a name and you’ve got name
Continue around circle until all children have had a turn that would like one.
Everybody has a Name
Everybody has a name, everybody has a name
Lisa, Lisa has name, Lisa, Lisa has a name.
(Continue around circle, and end song with…..)
Everybody has a name, everybody has a name.
The More We Get Together
The more we get together, together, together,
The more we get together the happier we’ll be
For your friends are my friends, and my friends are your friends
The more we get together the happier we’ll be.
Variations: ...the more we play, work, share, or care together...
Materials for lesson: “The Peace Rose” book and a fake rose inside a vase that can easily be taken in an out of. After reading story show children the classroom peace rose and discuss how it can be used in the classroom. Perhaps act out different scenes that show examples of two children with a problem and one decides to go get the rose off shelf and takes it to their friend to work it out.
A great little song I found on MyMontessoriJourney.typepad.com to also introduce during this lesson is called "The Peace Rose Song."
Peace Rose (tune: Oh, Susanna)
Oh, when I have a problem, I know just what to do
I go and get the Peace Rose, and bring it right to you
I hold the Peace Rose in my hand, and tell you how I feel,
You say, “How can I make it better?” and then give me turn.
We declare peace, oh we declare peace.
We take the Peace Rose to the vase with a smile on our face.
Peace Corner / Shelf
This is a good time to talk about ‘helping hands’ used in the classroom.
Discuss ways in which we can help each other and take care of the classroom. Make a “Helping Hands” poster or a “Friends Care and Friends Share” poster by tracing each child’ hands and glue them all onto poster board and label.
Friendship bracelets: Provide beads and string and children can make a bracelet for another child. Tie a bow to connect and that gives it a nice finish.
Here are some pictures of some of the works that are on the shelves in the beginning of the school year, just to give you some ideas. Remember for me, it is still summer when we start school so I have a hard time putting out fall things in the summer.
1-10 Shell Counting