Have you seen all those awesome looking focus walls all over Pinterest? Me too! But I teach preschool, so the kind with written out objectives and all that jazz won’t work too well for me. So what’s a teacher to do? Improvise, of course! Keep reading to check out my preschool focus wall and the research behind it!
This is What Happens When You Use a Preschool Focus Wall
What Is a Preschool Focus Wall?
A Preschool Focus Wall is Practical
It’s colorful and fun! My kids already love circle time, so adding something else special to it was exciting for them.
Plus, now they’re able to look at the board any time and see what we’re learning about this week.
And, it only takes up a small bulletin board. My classroom is small, so a focus wall that only took up a little bit of space was important to me.
My focus wall includes a letter, number, shape, color, and sight words of the week.
A Preschool Focus Wall is a Visual
I am such a visual person! Seriously, you can tell me anything and I’m likely to forget it unless I write it down. But, I can read something once and recall it years later.
Sometimes I forget that my preschoolers need visual aids, too, since they can’t yet read. But this focus wall has been a great tool for giving them something to focus their eyes on during circle time. The organization of my board helps them recall the information during discussions.
Plus, parents can quickly and easily see what we’re working on! Since preschoolers shouldn’t be doing many worksheets (save those for kindergarten!) and are doing lots of play, parents can get the idea that we’re not learning. Using a preschool focus board shows parents that yes, we are learning!
A Preschool Focus Wall is Repetitive
In this case, repetition is a good thing! Using the same routine day after day helps students to recall the information on the board.
Most preschool objectives can be met through play. Foundational math, science, and literacy concepts, as well as creative expression and social skills are all mastered through experience.
But, letters are something that really takes more focus and memorization than any other preschool standard. Which is why mastering letters should not be the focus of your preschool program!
Yes, you can play games with letters. And you should. In fact, here’s a free phonics game you can download from my blog!
But when it comes down to it, letters are memorized. They’re not a concept to learn through experience, like how preschoolers learn measurement and quantity by playing with measuring cups in a sensory bin. Or learning weight and length by building in the block center.
However, I’ve found that my focus board allows me to introduce the alphabet to my students in a natural but effective way. We use the focus board as part of our circle time routine. Since I keep my routine short and engaging, they are eager to talk about the focus wall with me.
A Preschool Focus Wall is Effective!
How I Use My Preschool Focus Wall
As I’ve mentioned before, letters shouldn’t be the biggest focus of your preschool curriculum. It’s definitely not in mine. We play a lot and I try to meet the children where they’re at with their development and interests. I throw in information and vocabulary and encourage them to use their skills throughout the day, whatever we’re doing.
I spend maybe five minutes a day reviewing our focus board. As we talk about each card on the wall, we say them together. We talk about the letter sounds and draw them in the air with our fingers.
We stomp, clap, or jump the number of times the number card shows. For shapes, we draw with our fingers or think of things that look like the shapes. And then we scan the room for items the color card shows. We also read our sight words a few times over.
And that’s it.
But, you know what? I started noticing that my kids were remembering the letter names and sight words! I’d catch them during free play using my pointer and reading the words from the board.
Or one of them would notice some environmental print and say, “Hey, that’s a letter A.”
So why does a 5 minute focus wall make such a difference? Because of Cognitive Load Theory! Let me explain.
Preschool Focus Wall and Cognitive Load Theory
Have you heard of Cognitive Load Theory? I hadn’t, even though I knew some of the principles from my education and experience.
Here’s the sum of why my preschool focus wall works according to Cognitive Load Theory:
- Short lessons have a greater impact than long lessons
- Daily practice makes the routine familiar and easier to learn
- Combining visual aids with auditory lessons are more effective
- Small, infrequent changes to the board shrinks gaps between concepts
- Simple design eliminates distractions and keeps focus on learning material
Basically, there’s only so much learning a kid can do at one time! Breaking a lesson into small chunks, then allowing time for play, as well as for the brain to file away the new concepts, actually provides for better lesson retention.
Plus, repeating this process daily means that the children can process the extra labels and such on the wall at first. Then, after that information is filed away in their long term memory, they can more easily focus the parts we want them to.
In addition, combining speaking with visual stimuli, like when you talk about what’s on your focus wall, is way more effective than just talking or using a visual example.
Also, since the board only gets changed once a week, it’s not like we’re presenting entirely new information with each lesson. The kids still know that this is a letter, a number, a shape, color, and sight words. They can build upon their understanding of the letter A to create understanding of the letter B.
Finally, this focus wall doesn’t use any fun patterns or clipart. That’s not because I don’t love fun patterned paper and cute animal images! It’s because extra details distract kids’ minds from the learning information. It gives their brains more sensory information to process instead of letting them file away the more important concepts.
For example, if there was a lion on the letter L card, the kids would all remember the lion after one lesson, but shortly forget the letter name.
Do You Want To Try My Preschool Focus Wall?
You can download this Preschool Focus Wall with all the letter, number, shape, color, and sight words cards from my Teachers Pay Teachers store!
Here’s What’s Included:
♥ “Weekly Focus” Banner
♥ 5 Headers: Letter, Number, Color, Shape, Sight Words
♥ 26 Letter Cards
♥ 20 Number Cards
♥ 8 Shape Cards: Circle, Oval, Square, Rectangle, Triangle, Heart, Star, Diamond
♥ 11 Color Cards: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Pink, Black, Brown, White, Gray
♥ 100 Sight Words Cards (First 100 Fry Words)