Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Back to School Centers!

Hi Friends! If you are anything like me, then the beginning of the year stresses you out TO THE MAX. The students are babies and have no knowledge of what school should be like. I have pre-assessments I have to do. I have the beginning of the year administrative things I have to do so all of the forms and paperwork are in the right place and filled out correctly. Between pre-assessments and paperwork, I need them to be contained and working as independently as possible. BUT they are not ready to be at my typical centers yet, but I want them to be getting in the routine of what typical centers in my class look like. So..... WHAT DO I DO??? 
I struggled with this for so long, then I realized that I just need to make my centers a basic and independent as possible and as engaging as possible so I can get what I need done, and they are still learning. 
So here is a look at what I do...

Literacy Centers: 
In my class we have a time called ELT(extended learning time). During this time, we have Intervention Teachers that come a pull some our kiddos to work on reading and math skills. So, during this time, I pull my Guided Reading groups and the rest of the kiddos are at Literacy Stations. I call this time Smart Time! 
I try and keep my groups to 2 and 3 students per center, because that creates a more controlled environment for me. It sounds like a lot of centers you need to prep, but I do have 3 centers that are technology based that require little to no prep. ipad, Computer, and SMARTboard. All I have to do for those is find some content based activities and they are mesmerized and on task the whole time!
Here are the other centers I have going right now: *If you click on the name of the center then it takes you to where you can find it!* 

A-Z Sequencing Cards. I do not know why I never thought to get this basic before. I was shocked at how many of my students were struggling with what order the letters go in. I love this because they can be super independent with it. If they do get stuck, they just have to look at the Word Wall and the Alphabet Line on my wall and they are good to go! 

Letter Play-doh Mats. Again SUPER simple for them. They think they are playing with play-doh, but they are really isolating and focusing on letter formation while building their fine motor skills. 

Sight Word Roll and Write. We learned graphing the first few days of school, and we do it every morning with the weather during our Morning Meeting. So, the are already independent at graphing on their own. I put a dice in there of the sight words that they all learned the previous week, so they are not getting stuck or confused or trying to identify a word they just learned. It is very simple. They roll the dice, identify the word shown, then graph the word by writing it in the correct box in the graph. They end up writing each sight word at least 15 times by the end of Smart time, so that works out great! 

Beginning Sound Match-Up. This one is a little more complicated. We are still getting the hang of beginning sounds right now. So, I have taken out the sounds that they are still struggling with as a whole. I also have this website up on an ipad, http://www.focusonphonics.co.uk/sound.htm. If they are struggling with a sound, then they click on that letter and it says the sound and gives them an example beginning sound. 

Right now that is the basics of my Literacy Centers. Now for the Math Centers! 

Math Centers:
Our district has moved to the Math Workshop Model this year, and I am so excited about it! I feel like the kids really learn more with short mini-lessons than long, large group lessons. So My Math time starts off with a short mini-lesson about whatever our unit is. Right now we are doing Numeracy 0-5. So this week we are talking about composing numbers. However, my stations are not for composing. My stations right now our manipulative and graphing based since that was the last unit we learned. I finally woke up and realized, that centers can not be what they are learning about right then and there, because they are not independent at those skills yet. 
So, I have my mini-lesson, then they go to stations. While they are in stations, I am pulling my guided math groups working on new skills. But, at their stations, they are working on things they have already done with me in small group during the previous unit. 

Play-doh mats. Again simple and easy peasy for them. They are working on number formation, word formation, ten frame filling as well as fine motor skills. 

Cube Pattern Cards. Most of my kiddos were in Pre-K last year, so they learned all about patterning then. So, they rocked this center. They match up the cubes, identify the pattern and the continue the pattern with more cubes. 

Roll and Graph My Colors. This was an activity they did with me at small group when we were introducing graphing. So, they have done it and love it. They are independent at it, so they are well managed and contained. 

Bear Counter Cards. This is a center they have never actually done with me. But, we have worked with Bear Counters a TON so far. So they are familiar with the manipulative. I love this center because it works on one-to-one correspondence, counting, as well as number and number word formation. Anytime I hand them a dry-erase marker, they are hooked

SMARTboard. This is one of my SMARTboard activities I have them do. I wanted to share because this resource is THE BOMB.COM! They love it, and are completely engaged. Even my low babies can do this game sucessfully! Go to: http://www.topmarks.co.uk/ click on LEARNING GAMES and go to town! It is fantastic! 

I hope this was interesting and helpful for you. Especially if you are like me, a STRESSFUL SALLY at the beginning of the year. I hope you are because then I know that I am normal :) hehe