How We Do Rug Time!

The Question:
I have a REALLY small classroom. My classroom has one of the big rugs meant for K or per-K classes that has letters, numbers, shapes, etc… I am seriously considering NOT using my big rug this year, but using those rubber place mats instead. I bought enough for all the kids in my room to each have their own placemat. I was going to number each one and let them keep them in their seat sack or maybe in their cubby. I know I would need to mark places on the floor so they would know where to sit. I just had a lot of issues with my big rug. First, it was kind of old and the janitors only professionally clean it during the summer. It does get vacuumed daily, but still looks pretty dingy. The janitors complain every day about how dirty the rug gets from the kids coming in from outside. Like I said, I have a small room so the rug is going to get walked on because there is no other way around it without walking on it. Also, I had a lot of problems with the kids not sitting right or complaining about others touching them, or lying down when they were supposed to be sitting up, etc… We would go over and over the rules of the rug but for some of the kids they wound up being kicked off the rug because they wouldn’t follow the rules. I’m wondering if any of you have not used a rug and used something like place mats where they have their own personal space during group time? I would love any suggestions or ideas. The rug just seems more of a headache than anything. I’m wondering if the place mats would make a difference.
The Answers:
Amy Hofferica Ryan
 Can’t wait to hear ideas! Getting wood laminate floors this year and thinking about alternative cushions myself! 🙂
Trixie ‘Mitchell’ Andrews 
I wouldn’t use anything that can move. Recently, I have used the large interlocking, foam, puzzle-like mats. (Bought from Sam’s.) They work well, but do get dirty & need to be occasionally cleaned.
Mariam Farhat 
What kind of flooring is underneath? Could you tape down different color lines. I’ve used Duck Tape to mark certain spots in my class, it comes in many different colors.
Connie Rohrer
 Are you thinking of using actual placemats or the little single carpet squares? The only thing I have found is that kids tend to futz with the edges of individul mats/carpets…which may be distracting,too! I guess you pick your battles, hey?
Bethany Charlebois Arsenault
 Use duck tape to make squares for all the kids to sit in. It will not hurt the flooring if it is a tightly woven carpeting. I have used it for 5 years now.
Kristen Pullen Jones 
The individual mats definitely require a lot of training. I have used both and prefer the large one instead. The children have a tendency to sit better on the larger rug than the smaller.
Kat Cranford 
I like Miriam’s idea…there are so many cute designs on duct tape! There is another type of tape too, one that may be less of a mess. Our gym teacher uses it to mark up the floor in the gym.
Julie Speck
 I called a local carpet place and gave them the poor teacher spiel and ask if they had any extra carpet squares (like the floor room samples) and they were able to donate to my classroom. I left the rugs on the floor for the first few weeks (we had 1/3 of the room carpeted) to help train with “personal space” and then put them up and they knew where to sit on the carpet after that. But now that I have a tiled floor with a rug, we just use the rug everyday! I do assign rug spots though, so I avoid certain kids sitting together. I think having them put the rugs/mats away after each use would drive me nuts, but each group of kids is different! I know what you mean about the dingy, dirty rug that gets a good cleaning once a year! I’m in the same boat there!
Bethany Charlebois Arsenault
I tape my floors with Duck brand tape so that each child can easily find their space on the floor for group time.
Cheri Dodson Smith 
I used small carpet squares one year….and I agree that they are tricky to use! I have a rainbow carpet now that is divided into 20 squares that I love! Before I had that, I used permanent marker to mark spaces to sit!
The Kindergarten Chick 
I used plastic placemats but we ran into problems when we would stand up to move (which we did a lot), they liked to use them to twist and slide. What I ended up doing was using them at the beginning of the year (labeled ABC). After awhile they just got themselves in ABC order according to their letter. I would have to help a few, but the majority helped the majority and they knew. Here is a blogpost about it. My post reads that I taped it to to the carpet but I ended up using plastic placemats instead.
Jessica Abrams
 I have a big blue carpet and I put masking tape “spots” which are just their names so they each have their own personal space. They know they have to sit criss cross and their bottom must be on their tape. It helps when they have assigned spots and routines are practiced.
Johnna Beckett Taylor 
I would hate to get rid of my rug! The duct tape idea above looks neat! Anything else that might move around might be a distraction.
Pam Burnett Lehman
 I’ve used the cushion sit-upons and a rug. I prefer the rug! The children focus better without distraction and transitions are smoother! We like to keep our rug clean by playing “human vacuum cleaner” at the end of the day. It’s amazing what 23 little pairs of hands can pick up in a few seconds!!
Diane Trepiccione Dean
 I bought some plastic carpet runners and cut them in half down the middle and then into 2 student pieces with a strip of duct tape dividing it into 2 places. I put the hook side of Velcro on the back to hold it in place. It works pretty well but some do pull the corners up. I leave it down most of the time, but pick it up occasionally so the carpet can be vacuumed properly!
Sheila James Cockerill 
I had to check the name of who asked because I thought you were talking about my school!! I had a nasty ugly carpet that I rolled up towards the end of the year because I couldn’t take it anymore (dirty, disgusting, way too busy, the kiddos couldn’t find their personal space on it). I went to WalMart and bought a class set of green vinyl placemats. The kiddos called them their lily pads (after we did our frog lesson). I allowed them to sit anywhere as long as they weren’t going to be tempted to talk. The kids loved the lily pads and the freedom. But this was at the end of the year. I am planning on using them again this year. I would love a nice carpet but it just isn’t going to happen anytime soon. I had tried 3 different kinds of tape and the custodian’s vaccuum took it all off. I gave up. I’m all for the placemats!!!
Lisa Gugliotti Flanagan
 I took away rug privileges this year and put down masking tape in strips.
Sharon Poll Feldman
 I use the big rug. It has letters, pictures, and numbers. I had the kids pick their spot of the day and whenever we were on the rug they had to sit on the same spot. My rule was that there had to be a spot in between each child. I also had a set of identical twins( and we wear uniforms) so I assigned one of the girls a spot and that was her spot all year. Her sister could not sit near her. It worked great. I tried carpet squares, but  then there was fighting over colors.
Karen Burnat 
If you use tape on carpet, be aware that it will leave a film on the rug. Our custodians flip out if we do that!
Cheri Dodson Smith
 The sad thing is, when I started teaching twenty years ago, I did not NEED individually marked spaces. The kids were able to self regulate….and keep their hands and feet to themselves…not so much any more….
Lee Speigner Blount
 I have the same large rug issues and no tape sticks to it for long (when I put name tags). One year I used duct tape on the business grade carpet and it ruined the spots when I removed it at the end of the year…it was the best at sticking, though :-}
Patricia Beitz Mcnichol 
I put little pieces of masking tape spread out so no one touches. Some years I put names on the tape or give special ones permanent spots—it works well . I stagger the tape each row in between. I sit as I put each tape down to make sure there is room. This works when we run in place or hop in place etc. they stay on their tape.
Cheryl Dycio
 I have used both rug and placemats over the last few years and I prefer my carpet. The kids tended to play with the edges of their placemats and distracted others or did not pay attention themselves. What I would love to have is a “wiggle seat” for each child.
Shelly Hutton-Brennan
 I agree with Cheri. We didn’t have those issues a few years back. So what’s up??
Jen Nedrebo
 I use velcro on the carpet. The self adhesive dots are perfect. Actually attach the adhesive side of the fuzzy piece to the carpet. They stick really well but come off without leaving any adhesive behind even after being down the entire year. The janitors can easily vacuum over them. At the beginning of the year I attach the hook side of the velcro to a star or other laminated paper with the student’s names, but that generally only lasts a little while until they can remember their “spot” easily. Just be sure to have a couple of kids help you by sitting criss cross so you can space them out enough.
Erika Hunt Roper 
This is my first year in kinder…I was going to get small letter cards and clear tape them to the carpet in an array then get small numbers and create a circle on the outside(clear tape them down) for two different configurations. Do you veterans think this will work out?
Nadine Inglis Berger
 I will happily take your rug. Desperately need one.
Kristen Fuller 
In the “old days” before I had an actual carpet with squares for each child, I just used painters tape to mark a spot for each kid. Worked like a charm. I’ve used the individual mats and it was short-lived– they tend to wiggle, play with their mat, and not stay in one place…
Andrea Fink 
I know the rug you’re describing, it was in my room when I first started teaching K, gross! I had them get rid of it, and the PTA bought a new one for me that I picked out in a smaller, brighter, size. If that can not be the case, I know I am extremely fortunate to have a supportive PTA, Target always has great small area rugs for $25 in August during their college back to school sales. I bought one with spots on it and use it during guiding reading, it helps with placement of kids, and they don’t have much to distract them. Good luck!!!
Diane Parizo Nicholls 
I am doing just the opposite this year!  I’m going from individual carpet squares to a alphabet oval rug. The carpet squares always seem to cause issues for me ( kids move them and play with constantly!). I am hoping the carpet will cause less issues! Good luck with your placemats. I know each teacher has their own preference.
Kimberly Crowder
 I have never used a rug in my classroom. There just isn’t room. Some years i use red duct tape and make four straight rows for the kids to sit on, but only if they need the guidance. I also assign where they sit if necessary to avoid problems, or you could call it strategic seating. I have very few problems with my children when they are on the floor because we spend so much time at the beginning of the year going over how we look, sound, and act on the floor. We even make a chart of those rules to refer to and i reward like crazy with stickers those first few weeks of school.
Kelli Smith
 I LOVE my carpet… and yes, it does get dirty, but it is worth it! I can bring in a carpet cleaner of my own at Christmas, and the janitors can clean it in the summer; other than that, a daily run-over with the vacuum is just fine!
I have a letter carpet (with a few pictures on it in the corners) that my kids sit on and I have found a successful way of using it for daily seating!
Every day, I have a “letter person” (it is one of my jobs- it’s actually a weekly job, like my teacher’s helper, so I don’t have to choose a new person each day). The “letter person” takes index cards and passes them out, without looking, to all of the other students. When you get a letter, you sit on it. Once every person is on their letter, the “letter person” gets to pick the cards up… since they are the helper, they get to choose their spot. At this point, I always say, “If you’re not sitting in a responsible spot, please move” and I close my eyes and count to 5 so they can move away from someone they will talk to.
I love this because every day, each kid gets a new spot and they also get new elbow partners! This also teaches them self-management skills. Also, there is always the option for me to have students switch spots.
The kids love this!
Jill Shearburn-persinos 
As a veteran teacher my experiences have taught me that each year is different, the students are different and administration is sometimes different. My biggest goal is to remove any obstacles to my students learning. Since I do Daily Five for Math and Reading I find the flexibility is very important for my classroom. The KEY is to keep the children from participating in a “sit and get” too long. Studies show that 15 minutes is stretching the effectiveness of your whole group instruction, (for some 15 minutes is too long) the brain needs movement to sustain engagement. Any configuration you choose will work if you remember to keep the children alert and engaged through monitoring the time spent sitting still and attending a lesson.
Sarah Van Tine
 I love my rug which is divided into squares for each letter of the alphabet. To keep it clean and looking like new even after three years of daily use, I easily roll it up and stand it in the corner close to our rug time. It takes seconds and no one walks on it during the other times of our day. Problem solved!
Dolores O’Malley 
Erika, I have a rug that has the letters of the alphabet around the perimeter and numbers from 1-10 on clouds inside. Sounds a little like what you’re describing. Just make sure your letter cards aren’t too small. Good luck! Lots of good ideas here.
Julie Benson Southwick Silva
 We moved into a brand-new Early Childhood wing in our building and the new carpets were fantastic! Since we didn’t order big rugs, we just use strips of large white Velcro and write the kiddos’ names on the flat side. It’s nice and easy to make your own seating arrangements…and when there’s an issue, just peel the Velcro and move it where you need them to be! ; )
Lisa Wishart
 I bought a rug scrap that was extremely long but not as wide as I would like. Purchased it at the Home Store (Habitat for Humanity Store). I am going to spray paint word wall words for my students to sit on. We will id letters and sounds and count number of letters in words jumping on words etc. The rug scrap only cost $10. Try your local habitat store.
Amy Kress 
I guess I’m in the minority- I have two different rugs that I use- a 6X8 (for morning meeting and guided reading) and two of them taped together for whole group (story time, gross motor, and whole group lessons). I tell them that as long as they are respectful and on task they may choose their own seats. IF NOT- they get their name on a piece of tape by my foot. I figure it’s a life skill that they better start practicing now. I had 19 students this year and the small rug was tight by the end- but I only had to put two kids on tape all year, and it was up by Monday. ( Everyone gets a clean start on Monday.) I think the key is consistency. I personally couldn’t deal with them sliding around on placemats- flipping and peeling edges, unraveling carpet squares, and the extra transition and storage clean up of anything more. I have too much else to worry about in a given day. I also think it teaches them to be flexible. One day you might get to sit with your BFF front row center- and sometimes you might get stuck between the nose picker and the kid with gas in the back. . . and guess what- you survived, you made the best of it, and the world didn’t stop turning.
Jessica Keim
 I’ve used individual mats, and never had a problem… I wouldn’t let them have their mat touch anyone else’s mat. But, they really were fine. I have also used the foam alphabet… I prefer the mats.
Beth Binyamina Kleinman 
Wow. I have been in your situation. I did use my rug, even though it was huge and my classroom was tiny. And I had the same exact problem with cleanliness. I always begged the office staff to have it cleaned over spring break, too. But, I did like having it for students to sit on, and never tried being without it. I do have one tip: say “I like the way X is sitting” and say all names until everyone is sitting nicely. You probably have already done this… Also, my behavior system was a chart with numbers one to five. Each student started his/her day on 3 and could go up or down. All students wanted their clothespin moved up, so they tried to sit nicely on the carpet. Of course, this required reminders and usually a daily reminder before carpet time that their clip can go up or down and it is their choice.
Beth Binyamina Kleinman
 I actually did try individual rugs once and did not like them. The children played with them. But, I am sure some teachers use them successfully.
Elizabeth Powers Paul
 I have used area rugs and we roll them up when we aren’t having group.
Lynne Murray Smith
 You might try having them sit on beach balls, with just a couple of puffs of air in them. The are comfortable and give good sensory input for kids who need that. You can get them cheap at Oriental Trading and you can get the small ones.
Laurie Leahy
 I am enjoying all these comments, and thinking, YIKES, does anyone who is not a kindergarten teacher have any idea how much mental energy needs to go into every little decision??! Another real challenge that seems like it should be simple: NAMETAGS. Argh!!!!!!!!!!
Bethany Munoz Osorio 
Along the sensory line, I use lots of calming techiques from S’Cool Moves that have made a world of difference in our circle times, while giving the kids great strategies that they can use individually anytime when their bodies are feeling out of control. I started using for a specific student and the strategies are good for all my kids.
Diane Tetzner 
Julia Cook has written a book about Personal Space Camp. I purchased it this summer along with the teacher idea book that goes with it. I plan on trying some of the ideas the start of this school year.
Elaine Werner Diane, The Personal Space Camp book is great! I have been using it for 2 years.

2 thoughts on “How We Do Rug Time!

  1. I have enjoyed reading this! This year, I bought small carpet squares at our city weekend regional market for very cheap and when I get more I will go for just 1 color.

  2. I have this exact rug! It has been in this classroom for at least 15 years. I cleaned it this year for probably the first time ever! It has faded quite a bit and isn’t vibrant anymore. I am going to spray paint it black and divide it into squares for this year because i can’t afford to buy another rug at this time.

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