This year, I’m getting an iPad cart with iPads for all my students – yay! Knowing that I would have this set of iPads was definitely important in setting up my room this year.
Having iPads means I can better individualize instruction for my students – in other words, assign them apps to use based upon their individual needs. I hope that this will help my kids work independently for slightly longer periods of time, paving the way for me to devote more time to small group instruction. I’ve always used small groups for guided reading, but I’m also going to try teaching math almost entirely in a small group this year.
To prepare for all that small group teaching, I set my room up accordingly, with a dedicated table and seats for my small group. I saw an idea for milk crate seating on Pinterest and found instructions on various teachers’ blogs. Honestly, though, I wasn’t into cutting plywood and using foam to create seats, as most bloggers suggested.
Instead, I took an inexpensive and simple route – I asked a local ice cream store to donate milk crates, added super cheap chair cushions from Ikea, and voila! Eight little (comfortable!) seats for my students. The chair cushions velcro underneath the milk crates, so hopefully they should stay put. This sure beats having the little ones drag their chairs over during small group time. I want my small group rotations to run smoothly, and five year olds bringing over chairs just doesn’t scream “smooth.” My kids have kangaroo pouches on the backs of their chairs, so everything falls out, and chaos ensues. These seats will definitely be worth the time and little bit of money!
You can’t really see it from the picture of my small group table, but I have a ton of counter space right behind my small group table. That space is perfect for keeping my materials ready for guided reading and math groups! These are just simple storage crates from Walmart, turned on their side. Nothing special, but they give me the storage I need at very little cost.
While I’m working with small groups, I want my other students engaged in high-quality activities, not just busywork. Even though they’ll have the iPads to work with, it’s so important that they still use real materials and manipulatives – as kindergarteners, they’re still developing their fine motor skills. Here are pictures of my math manipulatives, organized with labels:
See the black tubs on top of the math manipulatives shelves? I place materials for games and activities in them, and the kids bring them to their tables to work. If a game/activity requires one of the materials from the shelves (like dominoes), I just put a picture of the material in the tub, and the kids know to bring it out themselves. This promotes independence and cuts down on prep time for me. I just print out duplicate sets of the materials labels and stick them in the tubs as needed. Easy! I usually put the labels through a binder ring to keep them organized, because sometimes an activity requires more than one material. Here are what the binder rings in the tubs look like:
I think that’s all for now. More soon on setting up the iPads! To see the educational technology ideas I’m collecting on Pinterest, click on the image below to follow my “Educational Technology” board. Happy teaching!