Sunday, July 18, 2010

Environmental Print

Students and their families are able to see their rooms and meet their teachers the afternoon before the first day of school.  I have some environmental print labels already up before their visit, but during the first week of school, I ask students what other labels they'd like to have hung up on our word wall and around the room.  In addition to their names, they usually ask for :  SMART Board, television, globe, floor, wall, alphabet, numbers, puzzles, journals, dress up, speaker, computers, plant, window, and of course, "Mrs. Sommerville."

What items or places do you label in your classroom or school?


~  Don't know what to do with Duplo blocks your children have outgrown?  Perhaps you've found an inexpensive set at a yard sale and are wondering if they can be used for more than just fine motor manipulatives- check out Filth Wizardry's **AWESOME** repurposing idea utilizing Duplos and white stickers... brilliant!

~  How do your students use their schools supplies?  Do they have their own pencil boxes or are the crayons, scissors, glue and pencils put into shared tubs?  There can be some interesting debates over what's developmentally appropriate for young children: having ownership of their crayons, pencils, glue, and personal space (which as most kindergarten teachers know often results in I-have-these-and-you-don't verbal interactions during times when it would be more appropriate for students to be exploring and using curricular vocabulary, concepts, and teamwork) or learning how to share, respect, trade, and negotiate materials and tools without daily replays of my-pencil-is-cooler-than-your-pencil interrupting every activity.  Pros and cons: individual pencil boxes take up valuable space; communal tubs not only bank pencils, crayons and scissors, but germs as well.  Kiri8 over at Elbows, Knees and Dreams organizes her students' supplies communally but away from desks (I love the environmental print and cuing shapes!).

In my room, materials are shared in baskets left in the center of each table.  Some parents like to write their child's name on every single marker, pencil, eraser, etc., and occasionally our supplies must be used in the art room as well.  Sets of crayons (out of boxes) are put in our desk baskets with pencils and glue that parents have NOT labeled at the beginning of the year, share and share alike.  Their markers are put into individual zip-top plastic bags so they can be carried to and from art class or center activities in our rooms.  Watercolor sets, marker sets, and crayon sets used in art class are kept in tubs on our art cart.

As the year progresses, and our sharing manners are in place, I replenish the desk basket supplies with the pencils, erasers and glue that parents have labeled with names.  Children love it when their friends recognize their names, pass items around, and try to sort pencils so that all of the "M" names are in one basket, or all of the boys' names can be found on one side of the seating area.  Gloating and teasing, no.  Sorting, classifying, reading, and sharing, yes.

How do you organize your students' supplies?

Want to pretty-up some pens for your writing center?  Lisa shares an easy and fun flower topped pen tutorial at Celebrate CREATIVITY in All its Forms...


  1. I'd love to see pictures of the baskets once the school year starts! :) Sounds to me like you really cultivate a love of sharing well!

  2. What a neat idea with those blocks! Last year, in DK I had a basket at each table with cups inside that had each child's name on it. They had the basic colors in it with a pencil. Glue, scissors and markers were kept in containers that everyone could share from, when we needed them.

  3. I do a shared basket of crayons and pencils for every 2 kids. Each table then has a box for glue and scissors, because I want them to have close access to them, but not THAT close, especially in the beginning of the year.

    I have the environmental print...but read somewhere that it is more meaningful to have it in a sentence. "Here is the easel." "I see a flag"
    Have you heard anything about this?

    And I just changed my facebook status to see if anyone had DUPLOS they don't want anymore. Genius! Even if it's a rainy day thing, sounds like fun!

  4. Excellent point Sara! I initially have objects labeled in the classroom, but also have a pocket chart with basic prompts written on sentence strips to introduce the words: I, see, the, my, like, a, can. My students can then bring the labels from around the room (and extras I keep in a basket within easy reach) to construct and read sentences, " I like _____," "I can see the __________."

    Ah yes, let's do an all-call on Facebook and Twitter to track down Duplo donations!

  5. I wish we'd had such a wonderful environment WAY-back-when when I was just a "L'il Bit" in kindergarten. We had fun, but there was none of the sharing and communicating ideas you've outlined here.

    I hope you have a great new crop of kids this Fall!


  6. Oh! This made me miss being a teacher! Visiting via your comment at Teacher Tom's today. So nice to meet you. wishing you a wonderful year of Kindergarten : )

  7. Love Love Love the Duplo block idea! I am running out to get stickers first thing in the morning!
    Our school subscribes to the Responsive Classroom philosophy, which suggests that classroom supplies are stored so they may be used by the entire classroom community. A co-teacher used individual pencil boxes last year and it seemed to work well so I'm considering switching over.

  8. This is such a great idea, and I love that you get student input on the labels. I posted here about doing the same thing at home:

  9. I've been reading your posts about setting up the classroom, Michaela, and I stand here today in amazement and awe. I'm not much of a planner myself, so it's incredible to get an insight into how the other half lives! You work so hard and so thoughtfully. I'm humbled. =)

  10. I decided to google kindergarten blogs to get some inspiration for the upcoming school year and yours was at the top of the search results. So happy about that because I was debating switching to individual supply boxes instead of the communal table baskets I've always used until I read your post. I think I might start the year with communal baskets, shift to partner baskets, and possibly individual supplies in the spring when they are used to sharing. Great blog.


As always, thank you for your comments, tips, suggestions and questions!