If you've been following MMMB this summer, you know that I have adopted a new mantra for the year. Every time I start to feel overwhelmed with the standards that my kindergarten students need to achieve by the end of the year, I simply remind myself to:
For the second time in 2 years, I have a little boy entering kindergarten and it is REALLY hitting home with me that, as smart as he is, the structure of school and learning is going to be an overwhelming new world for him. He is the sweetest little thing (see him below, so cooperatively demonstrating a classroom management technique I use at the beginning of the year-the "monkey face") but wants to please and do things the "right" way. Although he may not represent the majority of 5 year olds, I know he is like many, and my question is how do we make sure that children with this type of personality feel successful and happy in their new world?
If I have learned anything from my little boys, it is that if they have enough time "playing" with (a.k.a. exploring) something and becoming comfortable with it, then they will be prepared to execute higher level learning and functioning with it. Of course, these are all things we "know", but it is very powerful to have it demonstrated right in front of you on a daily basis via your own children.
It is so simple--take the time to allow your students to "explore" your classroom, your manipulatives and the future of their learning. Taking the time to do this exploration will buy you more time than you could ever ask for in management, learning and creating a happy, successful environment for your new students.
For the purpose of this article, I am going to focus on 4 centers that I will be using as "staple" centers all year long during both literacy and math center time. Having "staple" centers will help you in creating independent learners during center time because it is something they have already explored and feel comfortable with. Of course, the skills will increase over time, but, if done appropriately, the students will not notice the increasing level of difficulty, but will feel confident with the changes.
Stamping Math and Literacy Centers:
So, my darling little Dawson was the inspiration behind the following stamping freebies that I am going to share with you today. Basically, it is a somewhat structured way to allow the kiddos to explore the stamps, the ink and the paper before being asked to do any constructive work with them. Providing them with washable ink allows me to let them make hand prints and fingerprints the very first day. I tell them this is a one shot deal---trust me they will do it anyway, why not allow them to do it in a somewhat structured manner now instead when they are supposed to be working later on in the year? Have them put their 2 hands on a paper, along with their 10 fingerprints. You can call me nuts, but I would rather get it all over with one time when they have my permission than having to stop small groups 20 different times to discuss how they are supposed to be stamping the paper and not skin! You can use the top photo as the model at this exploratory center and then bottom one is for the students to recreate what they see here (in a fun color, of course!).
|Click on this picture to grab this freebie.|