There is nothing like a catalog. Not for us in the administration. Not even for the teachers as they dream about what they would like to have in the classroom. For the children! They love catalogs. Want to see a group of children sit at a table for possibly hours on end, without fighting, and all talking to each other? Put a couple catalogs in the middle of the table. Some types of catalogs (Avon, coldwater creek, oriental trade) will get conversations that talk about what they like. They discuss the pictures; and just plain enjoy looking through them. Other catalogs (Discount School Supply, Lakeshore, Kaplan) are great fun. They not only talk about what they see and like, but they begin to make connections to what is in the classroom. Most of the time, in my experience, it quickly goes from "Hey this is the same carpet we have" to "Miss N, can we get this?" They make that cognitive connection that the things in their classroom are the things that are in this catalog; that must mean that there is a possibility to have more!
I am always impressed with the language and conversation that comes out of this simple thing. They develop so much language, conversations, social skills, and everything from a simple catalog. They even develop small motor skills (turning pages), literacy skills (which way do the pages turn, what are these words, etc..), and, in an older group, math skills (how much would we need to have to buy these five things you want to get?).

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