Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Circle Time Jobs (Part 2)

Last week I posted about our morning circle routine and talked about the jobs that the children have in the morning.  Today I'm going to finish that post (which is a week late) and show you the rest of what morning circle holds.

We've already talked about the flag holder, song leader, elephant question jobs and the next job up is the mail carrier.  This job initially was named because I have a mailbox in the classroom and each morning one of the children's job would be to check the mail and find a letter addressed to himself. He would open the envelope (not an easy task) and remove the letter and I would read the letter to him.  It might say something about what we were studying like,

Dear Johnny,
I see you love strawberries. 
What other fruits do you like?
Love, Mrs. Lee

This little letter would mention something that I had noticed about the child and ask a question for him to answer.  It is a very simple way to make every child feel noticed and give them a voice in circle.  It would also extend the theme of whatever we were working on, for instance, what is the difference between fruits and vegetables and our recognition of them.

As we spent time with the letters the children loved it but to change it up a bit we also have added the "brain quest question". 

We still call it the mail carriers job but the child comes up and I choose a brain quest question for him to answer and he then gets to share the answer card with the class.  The kids love this!

The next job is the weather bear. 

This child comes up and puts clothes on the weather bear to match the weather outside.

 I've attached velcro to all of the clothes so this is very easy.  The child then places the arrows on the weather wheel and I ask, "Johnny, tell me about the weather today."  The child responds by saying "the weather is __________". It might be hot and sunny, windy and rainy, cold and cloudy etc... It is the child's idea and the only thing I say "no" to is snow.  We do live in Florida after all. Some of the children have taken to listening to the radio in the morning to hear the weather report and that child might dress the bear in his rain gear because the weather man said it is going to rain later.  I love this.

After weather we take care of our calendar.  That child comes up and answers any number of questions I might ask about what day it is, the month, what number comes next, what is tomorrow, etc... I know the abilities of my little learners and each child is asked questions that they can answer with confidence.  I do not want the children to dread coming up front and then to feel alone or uncomfortable because they do not know the answers to my questions. 

The children also really enjoy putting the number on the calendar and figuring out what comes next in the patterns we use with the number.  We do not start the year out with patterns on the calendar but wait until patterns have been introduced and the children feel confident in that also. 

So, those are my circle time jobs.  We start with a little exercise to get our bodies ready to sit in circle.  It takes about 30 minutes to do circle in the morning and that includes all the jobs, a couple of good morning songs in different languages and reading a book (or two) with some great discussions.  It's a fun way for the children to share and learn. 

The rest of the jobs on the chart are taken care of through-out the morning including our pet feeder, who feeds and waters the hamsters, our line leader, door holder, my helper, who takes care of any job if children are absent and is also in charge of carrying my clipboard if we leave the room, and then the caboose who brings up the end of the line and also turns off the lights.

I don't know what I would do without my little helpers.  If I can give any advice it would be to make sure and pay attention to your little people.  If they are active and fidgety then change things up.   I sometimes suspend all jobs and have a short circle and extra outside play.  If that's what the kids need then that's what we do because if they are not going to be able to sit then no-one is going to have a good time and learn in the process.  This is pre-k, remember these little guys are only 4 or 5.  They will learn all this stuff when they are ready. Our job is to make sure they think school is FUN! So  HAVE FUN and be silly, the kids will love you for it and you never know what they are learning in the process!

What do you do in the classroom to encourage growth in the children's independence? I'd love to hear all about it!

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