Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Finding A Center System That Works...

   I think one of the most overwhelming things for me when it comes to teaching Kindergarten is that there is sooo much for kids to learn and so much that needs to be done throughout the year.  The whole idea of center time and center rotations is a daunting task.
   I kind of knew how I wanted to introduce centers based off of some great blog posts from other Kindergarten teachers. I knew to start off the year by allowing my Kinders to explore what was on the shelves in the classroom, knowing that it was the best way for them to get it out of their system. So when the time comes for them to actually work with the materials, they will have already explored (aka played) with them.
   The other K teachers on my team shared with me the ways in which they run their center time. Two teachers suggested doing one center per day...really? Just one center? I thought they meant that they started her centers that way at the beginning... but no-- they meant one center a day... all year long. I couldn't imagine it or picture it, but I read that other K teachers did the same. But I know that I want more out of my Center Time... so I decided to start doing some trial & error work with my centers, to try and find what would work for my classroom and my kinders.
   We spent the first few days of school just exploring the centers, learning the names of each of the centers. I introduced 2 centers a day. For 20 minutes, half of the kids explored the items in one center and the other half explored the other center. I assigned certain activities that they had to complete (simple ones, like cutting and coloring) before they switched to their 2nd center.
   What I found was that the kids wanted (and needed) more time to work in their centers.
So then I tried placing center activities/materials at each table and the kiddos stayed at their table for 30 minutes; they had to complete the activity and then they could use the materials (puzzles, sorting games, etc)  that were at the table, when they were done. This seemed to work pretty well, as there was enough time to complete the activity and "play" with the other center materials.
   So that is what I have been doing... One center activity a day... It was not what I had in mind, but you know what? It works for now. I have 4 color groups.
   Each color group stays at their assigned table for that day. They complete the activity and upon completing it, they have time to play with the other materials on the table/shelf in their area. At the end of the day, I pick up each group's basket and place it on the next table. So everyday, each group is sitting at a different table, completing a different activity and playing with different materials.
  I use this center set up for my Literacy Centers in the morning, which run about 45 minutes and then after lunch, we do Math Centers, which run only about 20-25 minutes. They have been having a fun time working through some of these awesome Back to School Math Stations by  Differentiated Kindergarten the past few weeks!
Sensory Bin filled with shredded paper:
The task was to find numbers and put them in order from 1-10.
Play Doh Mats:
Everyone loves playdoh, need I say more?
Number Order:
 The task was to work on number order once again and use links to put them in order.
Count & Color:
(This one took awhile for the kids to do, but they did so well!)

   So, this center system works well for now. The kids get it and know the routine; they don't have to worry that they won't get a chance to work at any center.
   However, in the future, I do hope to have the kiddos rotate through two centers per day during our Literacy Center Time.

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