The Importance of Sign-In
Setting up a sign-in activity for children in your preschool classroom is easy and may improve your classroom in more ways than one. As children are coming in to the classroom for the morning, stopping at a sign-in table will give each child the opportunity to have a few moments of one on one time with a teacher.
These early morning connections are important because they give the teacher a chance to observe the child for any sickness or mood changes, as well as give the child a chance to connect with the teacher in a quiet and personal way. Each child will enter the classroom having had a personal greeting, as well as a quick once-over by a teacher.
There are also many developmental benefits to providing an activity for preschool class attendance. Ideas for sign in activities can easily be changed to complement a theme or lesson plan. Sign in activities should be developmentally appropriate for the children in your care, but also focus on skill-building and provide a challenge.
The main idea to consider when planning sign-in activities is to be sure that the activity is relevant to the children and their school day. Provide activities that piggy-back what is happening in the classroom that day.
Cast Your Vote!
One simple idea for sign-in is to gather votes. Perhaps there is a new class pet and the children are having trouble deciding between three possible names for the pet. Before children arrive, gather a large poster board with the three name choices written at the top. Using colored dot stickers, allow each child to vote one time for his or her favorite name. Bring the results with you to your early morning circle time activity and have the children help you count the votes, revealing the winner.
For a more challenging sign-in activity, using the same basic posterboard design, craft stickers with each child's first name displayed on them. When children sign-in, see if they can pick their name from the group, and cast their votes that way. When children are adept at picking out their first names, try using last names. As children grow and are able to sign their own names, have them cast their votes by signing their names in the correct column.
If your classroom has a limit on the number of spaces available at each learning center, try this sign-in activity.
Have Popsicle sticks available with the name of each child in your class written on them. Label clean, empty soup cans with the names of each learning center in your classroom. As a sign-in activity, have children find their Popsicle stick and choose their first morning activity from the available centers. Be sure to show children which centers have space available and which are closed.
Doing this activity as a way to take attendance will free you from having to do it during your morning circle time. You can use the Popsicle stick method for deciding on classroom jobs for the day or week, also. Have children decide which job they would like to do for the week and place it on your classroom job board.
What Do You Think?
Many activities that can be done in a large group circle time can also be done as a one on one sign-in activity. For example, your class is discussing farm animals this week. You would like to introduce the concept by discussing what is a farm animal and what is not a farm animal. Using a large piece of posterboard, draw a dark line down the middle, separating the poster into two equal sections. Label each side "Farm Animal" and "NOT a Farm Animal". Provide several photos or magazine cut-outs of familiar animals. As a sign in activity, have the child choose an animal and decide whether the animal lives on a farm or does not live on a farm.
This activity will allow you to assess the developmental understanding of each child in the classroom, as well as give you ideas on how to proceed with your lesson plans. If the children have trouble distinguishing farm animals from non-farm animals, you know you will need to begin the theme in a very basic place.
Having an activity for sign-in every day is more than just a way to take preschool class attendance. Ideas are only limited by your imagination.