Learn what every preschool classroom needs to fulfil the academic and social needs of 3-5 year olds.
No two preschool classrooms look the same. However, there are several basic components most rooms will need. Here are some ideas of what to have in your preschool classroom.
Whole Group Area
The whole group area is a meeting place for the entire class. It is typically on a carpeted section on the floor. This is where the teacher runs morning meetings, calendar and weather, reads stories, and plays class games.
Be sure to have a music player nearby for singing and dancing fun as well!
Kid-sized tables should be set up with enough room for each child. This is where the students can do whole-class art projects, language arts, math, snack, and other activities.
Small Group Activity Area
This is where the teacher can work with a small group of students on a lesson. The other students are doing different centers that do not need direct support from the teacher. The teacher must run the small group activity while supervising the entire class unless a co-teacher, aide, or parent-helper is present.
Small group activities are usually led at a table in the back of the room or away from major distractions.
Some of these stations can just be a table or shelves where items are stored for the following subjects. Students know where the items are and are expected to help keep the stations organized. They can take items from the station back to tables or free space to do language arts, math, or art work. Here are what some of your stations could include:
Language Arts- pencils, paper, erasers, magnetic letters, and any age appropriate phonics or letter sounds games.
Math- manipulatives to count, sort, and stack; puzzles, magnetic numbers, and math games
Art- wide variety of paper, scissors, glue, crayons, markers, craft items
The following stations may take up a little more space than a small table or shelf:
Science- This station can have many different things depending on what the class is focusing on at the time. Here are a few suggestions: a collection of nature items the class found, sand/water exploration table, aquarium/terrarium, magnifying glasses, ant farms(ant, butterflies, etc.).
Dramatic Play- This is an area of the room designated for make-believe play. Preschool age children learn a lot through playing and having dress-up clothes, kitchen sets, dolls, puppets or any dramatic play items can help the students explore and gain valuable social and communication skills.
Computers- If the school provides computers for the class be sure they are not placed in direct sunlight through the windows as this can be damaging.
Every classroom absolutely needs a library. Many teachers place the bookshelves to form a cozy room that is separate from the rest of the room. Place carpet, pillows, and maybe a small rocking chair in the area for independent reading. Devise some sort of organizational system with your books so students know where to find the books that are on their level or genre of interest.
The classroom teacher should have space (probably a desk) for lesson plans, student assessments, first aid items, and important contact information. The teacher deserves a little personal space in the room for his or her belongings. Classroom assistants should have a place to put their things as well.
These ideas will help you create a productive preschool environment. There are many more components to consider based on the needs and interests of you and your students.
Now it is time to pull the look together and decorate the room. The rest of this series will give theme-based ideas for decorating a preschool classroom.
For more information on classroom organization and setup, click here.