Monday, October 1, 2012

Center Routine

After much debate (with myself!) I finally decided to try a different way of doing centers.  My first year teaching, children just got to play where ever they wanted while I called them to do individual work such as their alphabet book.  This caused havoc in the classroom!  Children really didn't know what was available to play or what they were really doing.

Last year, I tried having them choose what center they wanted to go to.  I had a selection of pictures that showed where they could play.  Below the pictures were stars.  The number of stars on the page told the kids how many could play at that center.

This worked for about half the year and then the children just would play where ever again.  Partly, this was my problem because of management, however, I knew in my heart that the way I had it set up was just not right for me and my classroom.  This makes sense in other classrooms!  But with my goals and objectives, it was just not right.

I wasn't too thrilled when I couldn't find a new way for centers before school started so I went with the same as last year.  Then BAM!  God was helping me.  I stumbled onto this website. Her layout made sense to me.  I believe the problem that I had with the children was that they had too many choices.  They didn't have boundaries.

I liked how Vanessa from Pre-K Pages still gave the students choices, but she was in control of those choices.  They had boundaries, but they felt they were in control of their choices.

Since my room is small, I went with 3 groups of 4 activities to create the centers.  I tried to group the centers together in a way that made sense (location in the classroom, loud vs. quiet toys)

Here is my list:
Board 1:  Sand Table, Art, Discovery Toys (Math Manipulatives/Science), and Playdough
Board 2:  Dramatic Play, Doll House, Blocks, and Trains/Cars
Board 3: Table Toys (Puzzles, Alphabet Lacing), Writing, Computer/Listening, and Flannel Board/Pocket Chart

I then divided the class into groups.  I rotate the groups throughout the week so that each child will get the opportunity to be at each of the centers.  So far, they are sticking with it!  I think it creates an environment that allows the children to not feel so overwhelmed with choices.

Board 3 causes some kids to say they feel board, so I might add in a Lego table to that board.  I do want them to experience new parts of a balanced literacy program so that is why I created a "Quiet Board" and will work more with those kids that day to show them the pocket charts and flannel board activities.

I pull kids that are on Board 3 that day to do their Alphabet Book and Journal time.  My aide pulls kids from Board 1 to do a project that relates to the theme of the week.

I have also learned that I was trying to do too many projects in a week.  By changing to this rotation, I can have the aides take time with the students and get through one project while they are at their center allowing them not to rush through the project to do the whole class.

Here is a picture of where I placed the boards in the classroom.  I used cookie sheets and magnets (so I could change the grouping of centers if I need to).  Please note that on this one, I have two groups.  This is for the 3 year old class so that it initiates social interaction for the first time school students.  Later in the year, I will most likely add the third board once my young ones are accustomed to the class!

Here is my "Make It Work!" moment for the classroom.  I hope you will find it helpful!

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