Centers seem so daunting at the beginning of the year, but it can be done, especially if you take baby steps like I have. No, it isn't perfect (yet!), but we are getting there. It is only the 3rd week of school and I have already introduced Basket Work (my students Must Do Centers before they can start choosing literacy activities).
The key to a successful center time is providing activities that are independent work. So, I have about 8 "staple" centers that I include and rotate every week. The activity is the same, but the concepts and things being reviewed change. Once students "get" how to to do the activity, it is easy to differentiate and provide different objectives each week. Here are four of my staple centers that I introduced this week. I have enough of these 4 centers to change every week for the rest of the year (although I usually change the type of activities every 2 weeks to keep center time fresh!):
Students LOVE to Pokey Pin. You can start with letters and move onto sight words as the students are ready (I also do math concepts during math centers!). Click on the picture for more information.
These I Spy centers from a Differentiated Kindergarten are SO FUN! Even though Marsha includes recording sheets in her kits, my students weren't ready for them quite yet, so I made a very simple recording sheet to start my kiddos off with for the first couple of weeks of basket work. We started with finding letters this week and will eventually move onto more difficult items to find (words, vowels, etc.). I thought I'd share my recording sheet as a freebie because it worked out so well with my students to "explore" this center. The students use magnifying glasses to find letters or words and record whatever they find in each box. Click the picture for more information on I Spy centers.
The students love to stamp. Today, we just stamped letters in our name on the left and letters not in our names on the right. This center is very easy to increase the difficulty every week and, again, I have enough centers for stamping the entire year. Click the picture for more information on stamping centers.
Writing the room gets the students moving and they always are so excited to do that! Again, Marsha from Differentiated Kindergarten has TONS of write the room activities to keep this center fresh and continuously increasing in difficulty.
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