Planning for two classes and with children with a variety of needs can be kind of tricky, but once you find the system that works for you it goes much more smoothly. This is something else that has taken a lot of trial and error and time!
First, I make a list of what the theme is monthly and then break it down to weekly.
You can find a copy of this year's here. This hasn't changed a ton since I initially made it my first year (6 years ago!), but I do rotate through some different themes (like every other year we do Nursery Rhymes or pirates or fire, etc.). 

Then, I go through and label in blue or black activities I had wanted to do the last year and never got the chance too. I made a little note here of what is what. 

Once I have my must haves down I go through month by month and jot down the fine motor and academic/ language activity for that day on a calendar. 

Then, I fill in my lesson plan. How do I differentiate? I am fortunate that my young students 2.5-3ish are in the am and the pm is the class that is 3.5-5. The pm class has also been with me for a year already. So when deciding activities for the pm class I already have an idea of what they know, what they don't and what they could really work on. The am class I have 5 returning students this year so even for half of them I have an idea of what they are able to do independently and not. A lot of times I may do two different activities for the am and pm or simplify or make the activity more challenging if I want to do it for both. 

That is also what I do in the am or pm activity. I simplify or make it more difficult depending on the center group. I group my students in centers by ability, but this changes depending on what we are doing that day. One group may be able to write the letters or numbers, the second group may be able to trace, and with the third group I may have to do hand over hand or not have them do the writing portion at all. When doing a language activity (flip and stamp words for example) The one group may try to repeat the word, the next group may identify the word, and the last group may be doing a simple sentence. All the students do the same activity, but just differently. 

Once I have the lesson plan created I place the papers/ activities we are doing directly behind it. That way if there is a sub they know what we are doing too. 

I keep everything in a binder. I have found this works best for me. I like it because everything is in one place and when I go to create my lesson plans for the next year I know what I liked, didn't (I keep stickies on the the lesson plan of never do again, do with pm next year, etc.), and what I would change slightly. I also don't repeat activities too much for the kiddos that will be with me for three years. 

If you have any other questions please feel free to ask! Do you have any planning tricks that work great for you?!

I have had a couple of questions about what does my schedule look like and how do I plan. I thought I would break this up into two posts. 

First, the schedule. We have an am and pm group. The am comes from 8:20-11:02 and the pm class comes from 11:37-2:15 (about 2.5 hours a day each). 

You can get a copy of this schedule here. 

This schedule has been a work in progress and last year I was really pleased with how it worked. It was just the right balance time wise for everything (not too long, not too short). We follow this schedule as close to the times as possible. I know it takes awhile to get to that point,but by the end of the year the kids knew exactly what and when everything was happening (which helps reduce challenging behavior). 

I will briefly go over what we do at time. 
Initially when we come in students take out their behavior folders, get their mail, and go to their lockers to put away belongings. The am starts table time. You can read more about that here and the pm class starts work boxes. The morning class are my little ones 2.5-3.5ish and we are trying to teach them independence that's why we don't do work boxes. The pm class we are prepping for kindergarten and trying to teach them to be independent. When we transition to circle we sometimes need to use a first/ then card with some students to make the transition smoother.

Then, we start morning circle...which is names, abc id and songs, counting, weather, days of the week, months of the year and calendar (we do calendar time with the pm on the smartboard). 

Then, we do some dancing usually 3-4 songs and story.

Centers I have the students rotate. The am class does two centers and switches (fine motor with my aid and language/ academic with me) for about 10 min. Then, we have group play so we can help teach the students to play with the toys and to share (we use visuals and social stories). The pm class again rotates through for each center (play, language/academic and fine motor) about 13 min. each.

We regroup for circle where we do a poem or song that goes with our theme and then they find their name to go wash hands and we have group snack. We have the same snack for everyone. (Parents send in enough snack about twice a month for the class. I send home a monthly calendar for this). 

Then, we have gross motor time or playground. I have the students get their belongings before starting, just in case we are running a little late it makes it easier and then it is bus time. It is a very quick day for both am and pm class! 

You can get a copy of my schedule cards here that I hang up at the front of the room. As we transition I say all done with ________ now it is time for _________ and by the end of the year the kids were saying it before I was or if I missed it (it happens!) they would do it for me. 

Any other questions feel free to ask! Or if you have something great that works please share!!!

This summer Ethan has been my little helper with seeing if some of the activities I have made are fun. He is super active so if these keep his attention then I know they will keep all of my 17 returning boys attention too!

Ethan loved the play-doh smash mats. We did letters and numbers 1-10. You can find these here.

The Spaghetti and Meatballs is available here. We practiced shapes and colors. We used a spatula which was really tricky. Next time I think I will use tongs. 

I got these Hot Dots Jr. for free and Ethan loves it! 

We made weighted sensory bottles. Madi loved putting the marbles in the container. You can learn how to make those here from Play to Learn Preschool. 

 You can grab this freebie here 

Have a fun Wednesday!

TPT has been a HUGE blessing! I love to create and have had the opportunity to find and create items for my students that I would never have otherwise found. It also has helped me financially (especially when my husband was laid off) and those not so little things come up that you otherwise couldn't afford. 

I have a lot of goals, but these are top ones. 

1. Pay off our debt. Our biggest right now would be student loans and credit cards. As soon as we are getting ahead we always have an expensive set back (septic field having to be replaced, car compressor, etc....oh the joys of owning your own car and home!) :) 

2. Buy a new house. With our son entering in Kindergarten in two years this is something we keep talking about. We don't want to be moving somewhere once he starts school and this house was supposed to just be a 'starter' home...well, six years and two kids later buying a new house is not looking possible. Especially since our teacher contract is up next year and we are not sure what will happen to my salary and other things (see above) happen. 

3. Travel! I love to travel and would love to start taking my kids on family vacations like my parents were able to do with us. 

4. Live comfortably. I am pretty simple person and I do not want or need a lot of things, but I just want to be able to live without worrying if something does come up that we can afford it. 

5. Donate. I donate what I can (time and money) and I would love to be able to do more of that. 

Link up what your dreams are with Sparkling in Second

I am linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It. 

1. I made a felt pizza for the pizza dramatic play center. This incorporates counting out 1-6. 

2. We made a frog...I have the spiders that we will use at work. The kids will use tongs to pick up the flies and put them in the frog. 

3. An Avengers t-shirt cape. I know no Avengers wear capes (my husband made sure to point that out), but that is what he wanted. 

4. Chicka, Chicka Boom Boom tree. Great for letter id and fine motor practice.  

4. Letter sensory bottles. 

 5. Father's Day cards.

This one is for grandma as I did not have time around Mother's Day to do it. 

6. Sensory bin...noodles and rices. I colored them with food coloring and a couple squirts of hand sanitizer. It dried quickly and my kids loved playing with it! The dinosaurs and super heroes all got a turn in there. 

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