Back to School - Welcome to Preschool!
By Mary Jane Tenerelli

Summer’s over, and your classroom will soon be filled with children who are eager to learn, but a little unsure of the new classroom environment and their place in it. Ease the transition and set the tone for a school year full of fun and learning with the following activities.

 

Name Games

Help children get to know each other, and used to participating in group activities, with the following song (ideal for circle time):

 

Higgelty Wiggelty bumblebee

Who can say their name for me?

(child says name)

Let’s all clap and say it.

(child’s name)

Let’s all whisper it.

(child’s name)

 

Here’s another idea for making children feel at home in the classroom.

 

Using a color chart, have the children point out their favorite colors. Ask the children to affix name tags to the color selections they have made. Point out which children favored which colors, and briefly discuss how we are alike and different in many ways, including in the things that please or displease us (“Leah and Bob like red best, but Shaquan likes blue better than red.”)

 

Emphasize how important and special we all are by reading All I Am by Eileen Roe, illustrated by Helen Cogancherry; published by Bradbury Press. Afterward, encourage the children to complete the sentence, “I am...”

 

Finding Their Way, and Fashioning Rules

The following activities will both familiarize your students with their new classroom, and give them a hand in developing the environment they’ll be learning in.

 

  • All aboard the preschool train! Line the children up to form a train. Explain that you’ll be riding the train all around the classroom, learning about all the different learning centers along the way. Start off the fun by marching along with the children following. At each “station stop” briefly explain to the children what the area is, and what you do there. Give them a chance to ask questions.

  • Name and Match the Shape Game. Hold up a brightly colored shape and choose a child to name it (i.e., circle, square, or rectangle). When the shape has been correctly identified, ask the child to carry the shape to a specific classroom area, and find something that matches that shape (“Shaneice, can you go over to the science table and find something round like the circle you’re holding?”). Make sure everyone gets a chance to look for a shape, and don’t forget to lead the class in cheering the seeker on!

  • Classroom Rules List. Copy and affix some of the symbols to make a chart pre-readers can understand; or design your own symbols! Make sure to carefully consider everyone’s suggestions, and present any important rules that may have been forgotten (“Always wash your hands after using the bathroom.”) A child who is made to feel like a contributing member of the class is a child who feels at home.

Mary Jane Tenerelli is an experienced preschool teacher and freelance writer based in New York.