My kiddos love and need the sensory bin. It is great for increasing language, working on social skills (sharing, talking to each other), practicing academic skills and gives them the necessary sensory input they need. I have themed sensory bins and one of the favorite themes is our first one...back to school. 
It is shredded paper and items that the students will be using on a regular basis (scissors, crayons, erasers, gluesticks, etc.) When I use this bin I have my aid show the students how to use it appropriately and they will either pick out items and record them on the recording sheet or she will ask them to find an item, say the item and record it on their recording sheet. You can find the recording sheet here. 




One of our end of the year sensory tubs I made this summer is a yarn and ribbon sensory tub. I am going to be using this at the end of the year and putting watermelon letters in there for the students to match up. 
You can grab the watermelon letter match up here


What are your kiddos favorite sensory bins? 









Typically I do not keep the blocks or legos accessible to the students because this can be VERY distracting for the kids. If they are left out they want to run over there and try to dump them all over. So I pull out the items that they will be playing with on that day. 

Initially the block center has only the blocks and not all of them out. A lot of my students have to be taught how to use the blocks. For my kiddos the block center can be VERY overwhelming! There are a lot of pieces and they do not know what to do with them all. Instead of building with them they throw them, step on them, or will just sit amidst most of the blocks. On Wednesdays I am very fortunate to have a volunteer in the room for the day. She will sit with the students and teach them how to build with the blocks. She will model how to make something and they will do it or she will show them hand over hand. As the year goes on we add animals and/ or dinosaurs once the students have had the opportunity to play with those items by themselves. 


Another time that is great to introduce the block center is at table time. The blocks are on a tray and  there are not as many of them for students to explore and it is not as overwhelming. 

Adding some structure during this center is key to my kiddos appropriately building with the blocks and having fun!
The importance of blocks is to help develop creativity and imaginative play.

 It teaches my students how to problem solve to get something to fit together.

It helps students learn how to interact with their peers by having to request items, problem solve together, and imaginative play with them.

Academic skills (literacy and math skills) can also be incorporated as another way for students to become exposed to these skills and to practice them in a more hands on way.








Large cardboard blocks

Legos

Dinosaurs

Animals

Cars, Trucks

I have also made some task cards for students when using the legos. This adds more structure to the activity. Grab them here.  
You can also find some ABC lego cards from Wildflower Ramblings here. My kids love these! 


During blocks play my aid, volunteer or myself will sit with the students and teach them how to build with the blocks. We will model how to make something and they will do it or she will show them hand over hand. Once the kids seem to be able to build independently the adult working with them will move away from helping so much. 
What are your block center must haves?!

Hop on over to Preschool Wonders for more block center ideas!






Here are some back to school ideas I am loving and will be prepping before we go back. 


I love this sensory bin from Learning 4 Kids. It is great for the beginning of the year and simple to prep. Check it out here.
Learning about shapes in a sensory bin activity:


This is on my tpt wishlist and I will definitely be purchasing soon. I love these name folders from Play to Learn Preschool. 

Preschool Name Folders:

 

Last, but not least I love stuffing the scarecrow. I think this will be super fun for all my kiddos! 
You can check it out here at Kindergarten Rocks!
Scarecrow Stuffin:

Link up or check out more back to school ideas below!


When I started teaching ECSE my students were way different than they are now. When I started I was able to use a lot of my Kindergarten materials and do a lot of my kindergarten activities with the kiddos with little differentiating. Fast forward three years later and my kiddos coming in were changing. They were coming in with more delays (physical, emotional, academic, speech). So slowly I had to start creating different materials. I was getting larger gaps between my students (Severely CI to students with Aspbergers). I had to figure out how to meet all of my students needs while also meeting the curriculum needs and prep them for Kindergarten. What I am getting at is fast forward to going on to my seventh year of teaching and many of the things I use in my room now that I can't imagine not having are things that took time to make, lots of trial and error and is still a constant work in progress. 
Through all of that I have compiled a list of ECSE teacher Must Haves for a First Year Teacher. I have a list of items you will definitely want to prep ahead of time and a list of items that if you get the chance you can create or down the road make in the future. 
What can I not live without?!

If you can get access to a core vocab board this has helped immensely in my room and I would strongly recommend to increase language! 









You can read more about my circle time folder here  and pick up some other great freebies.







Check out these great morning work binders from Ashton at the Special Education Station.  







The next three things take a lot of time to prep and I would suggest starting to do once the school year starts and this won't happen all in the first year. The next three things have taken me at least four years to slowly create. I have created as I went depending on the students' needs and in priority of what is needed the most for my group of students. 



You can find some social stories here











You can find lots of adapted books here




Well, I think those are all of my Must-Haves. What are some things you can't live without?!


Make sure to check out the Back to School sale at tpt for 28% off! You can check out  my store here

Some items you may want to check out that are great for the beginning of the year are...


ABC Mega Pack


Social Story Bundle

Back to School Mega Pack Pre-K and Kindergarten

Back to School Name Activities


Have fun shopping!





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