Thursday, July 10, 2014

Daily Schedule... {This is How we Do It}

...I was only 7 when that song came out, but either way, you're now reading this title with the tune to that song. #missionaccomplished

I frequently get asked on comments or through messages what my daily routine looks like in the classroom. I love seeing daily schedules. When creating the perfect schedule and routine for your classroom, you need to bounce around some ideas and suggestions. And where else better to get those suggestions than from other teachers?!
In most grade levels you might not have as much wiggle room when it comes to creating your daily routine as we do down in pre-school. Your reading and math RtI times are set by your administrators and you've got to include 'x' amount of time in this subject and that subject. Some of the decisions are already made for you. But for me, I have full flexibility with my schedule. Even for lunch I can pick whatever time I want since my kids eat in the classroom, not the cafeteria with kindergarten.

I also am free to chose when I take my lunch and my paras take their lunch. It's awesome to have such flexibility! But that still doesn't make figuring out your schedule/daily routine any easier.

I usually end up with a few rough drafts on paper with various times and arrangements before making a final decision. My final copy is then transferred over to the classroom schedule and individual student schedules. A copy of it is also included in my welcome packet for the parents.

The next step is plugging in the students. I always, always, ALWAYS am tweaking our schedule after the kids start. Whether it's changing the order of something or adjusting the times, something is guaranteed to change. Usually by the third week, it's set in stone. Then I send home a revised copy to the parents. They probably toss it, but I like for them to have it just in case they have to pick their child up early one day, or make a doctors appointment-- they know what their child will miss.

For the 2013-2014 school year, this was our schedule. I may have tweaked our times by 5-10 minutes here and there, but didn't make new cards to reflect that.

As you can see I display it right by our carpet area. We re-group here following most transitions so it's a perfect location. You can also see on the job chart that there is a schedule helper. This person helps to move the clothespin down our schedule throughout the day. This pocket chart is so perfect for our schedule. I actually have 2 of them because I didn't think our full day schedule would fit. I was able to make it work though by combining some things (center time and clean up time) and doing just a dismissal picture for when it's time to get back packs. Because once they get their back pack, we don't come back to carpet, so we'd never move that clip down again.

And yes, I FORGOT to put a lunch picture on the lunch/bathroom part of our day. I kid you not, I left it that way all year #teacherfail I did at some point realize the picture was missing, I just never took the time to fix it. Whoops.

There is also a piece of velcro on top of the outside picture. This is for when it rains. I velcro a gross motor room picture on there. This is essentially a small gym right across the hall from our classroom.

I'm sure if I ended this post here I'd be flooded with questions about what we do in each part of day so I'll go ahead and elaborate on that for you. If you didn't think this post was already long enough, it's about to get LONGER! Go grab yourself some coffee or a latte--maybe even a snack!

I'm sure some of this self-explanatory, but everyone does things differently, so let's dive in! **Please note that outside and lunch should be flip flopped! I put the schedule back together just to snap these photos and just now noticed that mistake!**

Arrival/Bathroom: Students come in the classroom at 7:50. Upon entering they complete their arrival routine of hanging up their name tag, back pack, taking out their folder, signing in, and then completing the work box at their seat. After they finish their box, they put it away on the shelf. Then they are allowed to play at what we call "table time." These are specific toys and puzzles on 2 tables. This is the only area they can play in at this time. Or they can look at books on the book shelf, which is located in the same area. Students are sent to the bathroom one at a time after they finish their box and are at the table. At this time one adult will go the cafeteria to get our breakfast.

Breakfast: The schedule says 8:00, but realistically this wound up being 8:30. By the time everyone uses the bathroom and we get back from the cafeteria, we sit down for breakfast. Each child has an assigned seat at the table and a placemat that they made. Everyone gets germ-x, we sing "open shut them" and then they are told the breakfast choices. Every child must ask before they can have anything --whether it's with words or pictures. Some students are even served bite by bite to make them request more. Communication is the goal! Anything to promote it! As they finish breakfast, they go back the table time toys. Anyone who still needs to use the bathroom will go after breakfast. When everyone is finished, we turn on the clean up song to put away our books and table time toys. Then students transition to the carpet.

Greeting Time: This did not start at 8:30 either. More typically it was anywhere from 8:50-9:00 before we sat down. We do 3 things during greeting time and I have these 3 things on a small schedule that I move another clip down on so the students know the 3 tasks we do at that time. (Sorry I don't have a photo of this!) We start with our Hello Song. Each child is holding a name tag. We sing hello to each one and we practice spelling their name before they give me their name card. For some this might include the first letter, then gradually build up to their full name throughout the school year. Next, we do our message board. Messages are on the easel in our greeting area. Most often we have 2 messages, and on Thursday, 4 messages. Our standard 2 are "jobs" and "outside." We review who has what job, and then whether or not we will go to the playground that day. Following messages, we move on to the song book. Each day there is a child's name on the cover of the song book. That child gets to pick the song for us to sing as a group. They LOVE the song book! (That's another blog post in itself!)

Earn/Gross Motor: Following greeting time we have earn time. It says gross motor because in the beginning of the year that's where we go for about 10 minutes instead of the students making a choice between 2 earn items. We do it this way just to make the correlation between the yellow star and special activity. After about 2-3 weeks we will start counting our happy sticks and making an earn choice. We'll be here for days if I elaborate on happy sticks. I have another post about it here, although that's also due for an update because a lot of things were adjusted/tweaked with those throughout the course of the year. Once everyone has made their choice we set a 3-5 minute timer. When the timer beeps, earn is over and we go back to our spot on the carpet. Earn choices are typically small sensory items that they can play with in their spot. If we have bubbles they might move around some, or some messy goop they'll transition to the table behind the carpet for that.

Centers/Clean Up: Following earn time we are ready for centers. Halfway through the year I added task box schedules for the students before centers. I will probably adjust our schedule for this next year. (This is also another blog post in itself!) The students who have task schedules are given a picture to transition them to do their work. Following their work they can earn centers. Students choose a play center to go to at this time. During centers I may call students to work with me one on one on IEP goals, work on PECS exchanges with students, and all students use the bathroom again. Following a 5 minute warning, the song helper will turn on the clean up song when it's time to put away our toys.

Earn/Gross Motor: Again, same as above. We count our sticks and get our earn.

Large Group Time: This can be a variety of activities. It almost always starts with a story read aloud that's engaging. Students either have story boards to follow along with or a manipulative to hold on to and/or sequence along with our story. We may also sing a thematic song during this time too. While we are doing this one adult goes to get our lunches from the cafeteria. If we finish our large group plans before lunch arrives, then we turn on the smartboard for activities while we wait.

Lunch: Once lunch is set up at the table students will transition there. We follow the same routine as breakfast. After they eat they use the bathroom and then play with table time toys again. Once everyone has finished lunch they should all be at table time. We will clean up table time to transition to outside time. Because an adult gets the lunches for the students, we make our choices using this lunch book. This is excellent for your non-verbal students, but I use this for all of mine.

Outside: Weather permitting we go outside to the playground. We try to clean up our table time toys at 11:30am to line up for the playground. If we're running behind, we just extend our time once we get out there. We stay out for about 20-30 minutes. When we transition back inside we get right on our cots for quiet time. Typically a teacher has set up cots while students are eating lunch, or stays behind to set them up while we go outside.

Quiet Time: Some of you may be shocked that we're doing quiet time and wondering how in the world we do it. Don't give me any gold stars yet because I have a trick. It's called the Smartboard. We play preferred tv shows via DVDs on the smartboard during quiet time. The students don't sleep anyway and this is so much more calm and manageable than when I tried "quiet time baskets" with quiet activities. We have to have a quiet time to allow all the staff in the room to get their lunches. This is what makes it the most manageable. Quiet time will last for 45 minutes. Before the students get up a staff sets up for snack.

Snack: We turn the lights on to signal it's time to get up. Students put their pillows and blankets under their cot sheets and go to the snack table. A teacher puts away the cots. The snack helper passes out placemats and we proceed with snack the same as our other meals. However, now, when they finish snack they may go to any of the play centers. They do not have to play with table time toys. This is great since some students either do not want snack or finish snack early.

Centers/Clean-Up: This is the same as above. In the afternoon centers will run for about 1 hour. Again, I can pull students to do one on one activities with me and some students will complete a second task schedule for the day. We follow the same procedure for clean up.

Earn/Gross Motor: Again, same as above. We count our sticks and get our earn.

Dismissal: After clean up from our final earn for the day it's time to pack up. Students are sent to the cubbies to follow their pack up routines (in visual form for most) and then we sit down in our cubby. Our busses come the pre-k wing door and we can see the busses as they pull up from our classroom. As a bus pulls up I call those students to line up and walk to their bus. We do this 1 bus at a time. On nice days we will go outside and play on a small playground until our bus is here.

SHEW we made it to the end of the day! Are you exhausted yet? Teaching full day pre-k is LONG. I have done it for 2 years now and will start my 3rd year with all day in September. I LOVE it. I do have some students who will be with me for a half day though. They leave after AM centers. We will sing a goodbye song to that student(s) after we have cleaned up and a teacher will take that student to their bus and the other adult continues with the routine with the others.

I mentioned 2 things in here that I could elaborate more on in other blog posts. If you want to know more about ANYTHING, just comment below! I will definitely be doing posts at some point this summer on our song book and an update on happy sticks---that is so overdue! I hope you got something helpful out of this!

**Update: I have created {editable} schedule cards just for you! You can use these in a pocket chart like mine, or display them however you choose! Head to my TpT store to check them out!



Jessica F said...

Hi Erin! Thanks for sharing, it's great to get to see other people's daily schedules in detail, especially since I'm headed back to Pre-K next year. I'm excited to learn more about the Song Book!

Fun in PreK-1 & Kinder

Kate said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! I also love the happy sticks. I was planning on changing to a similar system, but I love your earn it system and may do that instead.
Fun in ECSE

lulustudio said...

I want to hear more about the song book too! I am working on songs at this very minute!

Mrs. Dixon said...

AMAZING! Thanks for all the great info! I have all young babes this year, so my schedule will look very similar!! :)

Teaching Special Thinkers

Morgan said...

Thanks so much for the detailed description of your day! When the kids go to centers, are they free to go where they please or do you have them on a center schedule? I know you are pulling students during this time.....I appreciate your help!

Erin Lukas said...

Morgan- They are free to go where they choose. This doesn't mean that we don't try to encourage students to visit new centers they wouldn't otherwise go to. I have some plans for next year to try and increase play in certain centers. I'm not crazy about the forced play in certain centers. For some students it can lead to behavior problems that can otherwise be avoided. However, that doesn't mean you can't individualized this for some students. You may have a child with an attention to task goal so you want them to stay in a certain center for 'x' amount of time. In those scenarios, then yes, we will work on staying somewhere specific. I also make them go to the center they request. They can't say they want to play in the house area and then go to blocks, they must go to the house area at least for 2-3 minutes before leaving. I hope that helps! You can always email me at if you have more questions!

Unknown said...

Hi Erin,
I was wondering where you got the picture clip art. I have the same pictures for autistic children I teach but was given these. I'd like to have them on my own computer b/c some of the pics I have lost or have gotten damaged. Can you help me with this?

Unknown said...

I love this! I am wondering where you got your "jobs" signs? I love the board maker images and that you only have a few jobs. I am hoping to do this in my classroom and can't find anything like these.


Katrina said...

Erin, I love your schedule, but I would really like to get my hands on your job chart! I've looked for it in your store on TPT, but couldn't find it... Could you please let me know how I can get the file?
Thanks so much,

Unknown said...

Do you have a copy of your job cards?

Unknown said...

Thank you so much! It will be my first year teaching pre-K this year so this breakdown of the schedule is helpful!

Anonymous said...

I'd also love a copy of your job cards!

Anonymous said...

Wow....i absolutely enjoyed reading your blog. I would like to know more about time spent playing outside in the playground. I teach 4 to 5 years and i would spent about 30 minutes. However...we are three classes and the other two classes play outside for more than an hour. It bugs me because maybe i am doing something wrong. Please advise.

Rhonda G said...

Just downloaded your Editable schedule cards, however, I am not able to edit them. Help please.

Unknown said...

How do they earn their sticks??? I'm looking for a more consistent way for my students to earn.

Unknown said...

I think you should have shared the pictures you used to make the schedule.

Angie said...

Hi! I purchased the editable version and I cannot edit! Please Help!

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