Knick-Knack Hunting

July is a month of vacation; late night runs to an ice cream parlor, sleeping in and garage sales. The last thing on our minds is setting up our centers or interest areas. Yet, as a teacher our summer vacation is not a vacation from our teacher mindset. We are always in teacher mode and without a doubt, when we go out to garage sales or resale stores we tend to, without planning, think about what knick-knacks to buy for our classroom. Therefore, I decided to prepare a list of items for you as you do some shopping this summer.  


As Piaget specifies in his preoperational stage (ages 2- 7), kids learn through experiences. At this stage they begin to skillfully use symbols and role play to make sense of the world around them. For that reason, placing a variety of stimulating items out in the writing areas will, undoubtedly, foster a culture where students collaboratively play and learn together.  


The following list has stimulating knick-knacks that would be ideal.  


Writing Area Material List


  • Tweezers

  • Cards

  • Beads

  • Sand trays

  • Rice trays

  • Shaving cream

  • Dry erase markers/ boards

  • Key board

  • Ziploc with gel

  • Sensory materials (rice & sand)

  • Letter links

  • Stickers

  • Feather with paints

  • Receipt books

  • Old business cards

  • Appointment cards

  • Thank you cards

  • Gift cards

  • Play dough

  • Fasteners

  • Environmental print

  • Wiki sticks

  • Post-its

  • Blocks

  • Notepads

  • Clip boards

  • ABC chart

  • Laminated calendars

  • Unused invitations

  • Christmas cards (thrift store)

  • Glasses

  • Notepads

  • Phone book

  • Tape

  • Word bank

  • Return envelopes

These are great items that can cultivate and encourage students to visit the writing area. Yet, how you set them out should be intentional. The following are three things to consider when placing these items out:

  1. Student interest

  2. Student social, emotional, and cognitive development

  3. Usage and excitement of the writing area



The NAEYC position statement clearly outlines; “Children are active learners drawing on direct physical and social experiences as well as culturally transmitted knowledge to construct their own understanding of the world around them” (1997,7). Our focus should be to encourage our students to write and develop their understanding of becoming a writer; therefore, enhancing a writing area that provides social interaction with their peers is important. So, as you go through your summer, be on the lookout for some of these stimulating materials, and be prepared for a wonderful school year.  

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Training Spotlight

1st-3rd grade educators worked together to learn engaging ways to develop number sense. Students will develop fact fluency while playing games that use their number sense strategies. By learning their facts in this way, students are not merely memorizing, but rather learning to work with numbers flexibly.  “Low achievers are often low achievers not because they know less but because they don’t use numbers flexibly – they have been set on the wrong path, often from an early age, of trying to memorize methods instead of interacting with numbers flexibly.” Jo Boaler,  Stanford University, 2009


April 8, 2019

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