Getting Ready
The first weeks will go MUCH more smoothly if you prepare as many of these tools as you can BEFORE the first day. That leaves you free to get to know your children and fine-tune your plans rather than scramble to prepare things. Click on the links for samples. They are suggestions - you may have different pictures or templates that work just as well.

  • Class Lists and Name Cards: Prepare large format name cards with a child's first name - in large, size 96 font of "Century Gothic" or "Tw Cen MT,"or other font that uses primary letter formation (not a or g). Cut them out with a cutting board, ready to laminate. Laminate if you are sure your list is accurate. For Threes, it helps to add a visual clue such as an animal or common object, which over time can be faded, as they learn their names. Some teachers put pictures on the back as a way for children to check. Use them in group activities, and eventually place a second set in the Library at a writing table. A few extra classlists (Last name, First name) will be useful as you keep things that are coming and going home straight.

  • Feet Cut-Outs: 15 pair, fastened to the place you will have children line up. These provide enormous opportunities for math and language practice, fun transitions, and thinking skills. Teachers add pictures of target vocabulary, providing another opportunity for practice of shapes, animals, colors, etc.

  • Home-School Interactive Attendance Chart: This tool helps children understand concepts such as "before", "now," the movement of time and space, number, presence/absence, whole/part, beginning data reading, and problem solving. Consider using the same icons in your Weekly calendar, especially for Threes.

Here is an example:


  • Weekly Calendar Icons: an appropriate tool for teaching days of the week, the past, anticipation of future, home/school days, and lots of MATH!. Here are files that you can use to prepare one: INSERT Please note that the size is important - it must be large enough for all children to see when in a large group, and to fit icons that also are large enough for children to see. You will have to insert a photo of your school on the Monday through Friday pages. You will need the extra house/weeknd photos to place over school days that become holidays or other closures.


Trim the pages slightly to fit uniformly on a piece of bright construiction paper (all one color), THEN laminate. It will
last longer and be easy for young eyes to locate. Velcro in WHITE, 2 spots on the bottom (use the size of your
icons as guides) and one at the top.

Some teachers also use icons for lunch foods, a bus for field trip days, a cake with 3, 4, 5 candles for birthdays,
etc. Some of these are here; feel free to use your own, or add your own ideas. The "welcome" sign is for a day a
guest is coming.

5th birthday TBD



This weekly calendar replaces the inappropriate primary monthly calendar so easily available in catalogues.
Also recomended is that you obtain a large, traditional calendar. In small groups, add the birthdate of each child.
Here are some ideas to guide you, including a home connection:



  • Weather Reporting Chart: You might prefer to keep a wetaher record separately from a clandar. Use weather icons of a size large enough for the group to see, strong enough for children touse. Some teachers place the icon into their morning message as a rebus, some into their calendar (also see example, above). An example:


  • Hand-washing Icons: You have no idea how not providing enough consistent teaching and practice of this procedure FROM DAY ONE can ruin your classroom asessments (not to mention the added illnesses) . . . laminate and place these above your sink to help YOU remember, as well as the children: Handwshing Picts for Sink.doc

  • Whole Group Behavior Reminders: icons for quiet, looking, listening, thinking, speaking. Silence is a powerful tool - use the icons, notice out loud how many remembered what the icon means (no names!), get up and touch gently those who are otherwise engaged. See ( link in progress) for more strategies for building a cohesive group and developing a child's "executive function".

  • Jobs Chart: eventually, everybody should have a job! Look here for ideas: Possible Jobs.doc

  • Your Timed Schedule: on regular sized paper near the door, for visitors to see. Include adult lunches and names and times of regularly scheduled staff; include before and after-care staff, and if these children move to another room for before- or after-care, note that room as well. See the HOME page for current materials.

  • Emotions Pictures: one of the first things we teach, and revisit all year long; especially needed for shy children or those learning to communicate. There are very good commercail posters available.

  • Choice/Planning Board: There are many ways to do this. The Planning Board can be used for the first choice into Centers. One good strategy is to ask 2-3 children each day what they plan to do in the center of their choice, put it away until after clean-up, and then bring it out to remind them of their first plan and ask how it went. This fosters language development, memory, and confidence, and provides achievement-based recognition to build honest self-esteem.
    Some teachers have had success with using smaller pictures of the Center Management signs in the number of children allowed for that center. Children choose the card of the center they want to visit first, until the are all taken.

  • Center Signs/Management Boards: The center signs are a management and problem-solving tool for children, once in centers. They also help children "read" charts, locating information important to them.
    • Use the same pictures or style for your planning board as you do for the center signs/management system. Be careful not to make them too small, or place them too close together on the Choice Board, especially for Threes, who will be using their beginning skill of matching. Make two of each of the 10 centers, laminate and attach enough velcro for the number of children that can be safely in the center. Black velcro contrasts best with most backings - do not put white velcro on white backgrounds, as children may become confused if they don't see it. Learning to use centers is complex enough, so always think about what children SEE. This system provides opportunity for working through disappointment, managing wait time, and problem-solving by finding alternatives.

    • Some teachers use large photographs of real students, past or present, to make these tools. some use cut-outs from catalogues, and there are commerical ones out there to purchase - but it's hard to match them to all 10 Creative Curriculum centers and names. Here are some made of web-based free photos. You are welcome to use the signs provided on the home page.
    • Also see this website for a user-friendly system to make your own posters. Membership is free to use the system. (This site also has other pictures and labelling things for you to use.)

PLEASE NOTE: Not all centers are opened at once in September. Follow the plan in The Beginning of the Year Teaching Guide. Even FOURS need an introduction to the name, use of, and care for each material. There should be enough materails for children to play with, but do not fill centers - these first weeks, materials are planned for and introduced gradually.
  • Children's Photos: As children are comfortable,but as soon as possible, take pictures of them and make copies for a total of 5-7 each: one for the cubby, one for the Home-School Attendance Chart, one for the Choice Board, one to move around during centers, and extra for the inevitable loss. Another one could be added to the large name cards for games, perhaps on the back.
    • One idea that works for photos is to place two children next to each other against a PLAIN backgrround. Take the picture so that the children fill the frame from just below the shoulder line up. If you print 4x6s, you will have a good size (2x2.5 inches) for gluing to a slighly larger card, adding the first name below, ideally in an appropriate font, and laminating. . If you glue to a card stock backing and laminate, they will last a long time. Keep the one used at Center time in a laminated folder, and teach children to gather their picture and place in the folder. One idea that has proved useful for some is to use TWO folders and by so splitting the class, both adults can partcipate in the first choice conversation, and kids get into centers more quickly. Use velcro in the folders as well.

A common issue is "The Velcro Problem" - you have all soft pieces or all loop pieces, and none of the other. That can be solved in two ways: 1) buddy up with a partner and be organized about each of you using the opposite side for "destination" charts, which uses more than the pictures, or 2) buy more each year and you'll catch up with yourself eventually over time.