We always start out with breakfast. I love this because it gives the kids a chance to come in an socialize and share with each other. It also helps them become independent with many life skills that many cannot do when they first come like serving themselves, opening up food and drink cartons, and cleaning up after themselves.
After breakfast, the kids clean up, scrub the tables and join in our meeting area for a morning message. I write this message in front of them and either model or think out loud writing strategies that I want them to focus on or I write it, then highlight sight words, blends, chunks, little words inside of big words, and any other reading strategies that will help them decode the message themselves. It only takes 5 minutes but packs some powerful reading and writing lessons!
On our longer days with no specials, we then have a lesson that has something to do with our inquiry. We may find out what they know and wonder about a subject they want to dig deeper in, read a book, watch a video, do an experiment and have meaningful discussions about we read, did, or had seen.
Most days we have two large blocks of Play-Based Learning Time which we call "Thinking, Learning and Discovering." This is when the kids are seeing, thinking and wondering about what is set out for them to explore. It is also where most 21st Century Skills such as team work/collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking, creative thinking and communicating skills are being used. They learn to be productive, take initiative, take leadership roles, and listen to others ideas and opinions. These need to be practiced in every grade! Not just Early Childhood! I set up experiences for them to explore and they make their thinking visible through plans, documentation, observational drawings, notes, data collection, and so much more. Some areas for them to explore are building, engineering, art, clay, science, creation station, library, dramatic play and math/literacy experiences. This is also the time when most of our small group inquiry investigations and projects happen.
We have whole group lessons to introduce new reading, writing and math skills that they need. These new skills are practiced and used during Thinking, Learning and Discovering time and materials are set out to specifically practice the reading, writing and math skills. We also have a specific time where they are specifically working on Literacy and Math stations to help them achieve their goals.
Our Literacy Lab is one of the most helpful resources that we have in our school. I feel so lucky to have this available to us! Our whole class goes into our Literacy Lab where the kids are divided into groups based on their needs. The kids who need intensive literacy intervention get it here. There are three teachers including me and four groups (In the past when we had Teaching Assistants we had 5 smaller groups). One teacher for intervention, one teacher for a guided reading group and then there are two groups that alternate between working with me in a guided reading group and an independent table with literacy experiences. With this set up, we meet with all the children in guided reading groups and literacy experiences within 30 minutes. That means I can focus my small groups in my room on those who need intervention and enrichment.
Of coarse, we go outside anytime the weather permits. The 21st Century Skills I mentioned above are used and practiced when the kids play outside. When outside play is taken away, their chances to problem solve, collaborate, take risks, be creative, socialize, take leadership roles, observe and discover are also taken away. It saddens me how little kids can practice these important life skills because so much of their play has been taken away from them in their schools when in actuality, the skills they need most in life are practiced as they play.
Our reflection time is another one of their favorite times of the day. Here we pass a "Sharing Stone" around our circle of friends and share something we did, made, discovered, or even something that happened to them that day. They are only allowed to talk if they hold the Sharing Stone. If kids have questions about what a student shared, they may raise their hand and that student will call on them. The kids are so respectful and quiet during this time. This time is very special to them and they take it very seriously!
Calendar is how we end our day. This is a traditional calendar where we quickly do the date, count the days of school and study the 100 chart, and sing songs about math concepts we are learning. We also talk about the daily and seasonal weather as we graph the weather each month.
Hopefully this post will help answer the many questions I get about what my typical day looks like in a Reggio inspired classroom in a public school system. Just remember the beautiful thing is that you can make a schedule that works for you. If you don't have time for two blocks of play-based learning because of curriculums mandated by your school or you are mandated to spend a lot of time pulling out guided reading groups, try to squeeze one in instead! I had to take some risks to make room for those times and they have paid off! For example, Independent Writing time did not need to be as long since they were using writing skills during other parts of the day, so I cut it in half.
So that is my day! I do have to say that we do not always stick to our schedule! Often learning opportunities pop up that we have to grab onto! That is part of having an emergent curriculum! This does provide a base for how our day might look. I have provided my schedule below for you so that you can see the whole schedule at a glance.