When first setting up a preschool classroom, knowing all the materials and equipment needed can be daunting. Even for those already running a functional classroom, it is helpful to know what the recommended items are to have on hand. Being familiar with the basic equipment and supply needs of a preschool classroom can help make sure your classroom is the most prepared environment for the needs of your students.
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A basic preschool classroom needs to be furnished with basics such as store cabinets for teacher supplies and cubbies for children's belongings and coats. It should also have chairs of varying heights for both children and adults, and it should have tables that are preferably both round and rectangular. To alert parents of news, it should have a notice board. It should also have storage shelves and plastic tubs to keep all the supplies. As for basic needs, it should have serving dishes as well as dishes, cups and utensils from which to eat. Finally, it should have a large number of cots or sleeping mats for nap time. For basic classroom use, you should also outfit the classroom with a pencil sharpener. Make sure to have an adult stapler and adult scissors around for the teacher's use and cleanup supplies. Many parents want to be updated on what is going on in the classroom, so it is a good idea to have a camera. For everyday use, have a chalkboard or whiteboard. To save paper, have Magna Doodles or writing slates for the students. Otherwise, make sure there is plenty of paper and pencils for them to use. Be sure to have an up-to-date first-aid kit.
The art area of a preschool classroom is one of the most comprehensive sections. You should have a double easel, wall hooks or peg trees to hang painting smocks and drying racks. According to the book "Setting up the Preschool Classroom," essential materials include liquid tempera paint in black, white and primary colours as well as liquid starch. Liquid starch, when mixed with the liquid tempera paint, can be used for finger paint or even glue. You should also have at least two paint cups per child. Have plenty of paintbrushes that are both stubby and long handled and washable watercolour paint sets. Buy sufficient finger-paint paper and newsprint for the easels. To keep the children clean, buy one vinyl smock per child. For craft activities outside of just painting, have plenty of glue bottles, child scissors, tape dispensers and child staplers. You may also want to have string, yarn and masking tape. Be sure to have abundant markers and crayons.
A library area is an important part of any classroom. For a preschool, outfit the library area with a bookshelf stocked with many picture books and reference books. This is also the place where you can put posters and charts, puzzles, alphabet cards and puppets to help tell stories. Buy a variety of books such as story books, number books and nursery rhymes books reflecting a diversity of cultures and backgrounds.
Dramatic play requires several materials but is essential in helping develop basic social skills and learning about everyday life. For dramatic play, a preschool classroom should have homelike furniture such as small tables and chairs, a child-sized refrigerator, a small couch, a doll bed and carriage or plastic food. There should be plenty of props that represent different occupations such as police uniforms or a doctor's stethoscope, and props such as telephones.
Though children are not yet learning astrophysics, a preschool classroom should help them explore science. The amount and type of materials depends on your budget and desires, but a basic classroom should have science tools such as magnifying glasses, plants and soil, magnets and pulleys and gears. A water and sand table, in which children pour and measure materials, is a popular item in preschool classrooms. You can also have prisms, shells, funnels and mirrors.
Tactile and sensory development is important to any preschool classroom. To help your students hone these skills, keep plenty of blocks, Legos and Play-Doh in your classroom. You can also have wood blocks, cars, houses and train sets in the block area. Foam blocks and PVC pipes and connectors are also useful. Small play toys in the shape of cars, farm animals, zoo animals and people are also good additions.
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