Centers

Discussion in 'Early Childhood Education Archives' started by krisaustin, Sep 5, 2006.

  1. krisaustin

    krisaustin Companion

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    Sep 5, 2006

    I just began centers in my classroom today. My students had a hard time at the centers. They did not know what to do at the centers.

    My centers are:
    Journal
    Math
    Post office/phone
    Library
    ABC
    Puzzle/Game
    Listening Center (coming soon!!!)
    Computer

    I want my students to go through the centers as I pull students in small groups or 1:1.

    They are having a hard time being at the centers and not knowing what to do. I have various materials /manuiplatives at the centers to reinforce what they already know.

    They all seem to be fine at the library and reading a book or having a book read to them.

    Ok now my problem...
    I want my students to be able to work at the centers independently. I will have an aide in my classroom to monitor the students and to help the students as needed, but they cannot help the students at the same time.
    They are not able to do this. They are having trouble knowing which center to go to.

    Also need ideas on how to rotate students.

    Thanks:)
     
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  3. heathers

    heathers Rookie

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    Sep 5, 2006

    this sounded like my class last year. the kids just didn't get how to work independently at centers. i had to take a step back and start over, do centers as a whole group so you can show them what is expected of them during that time, quiet voices etc. I also had to wait to do reading groups, and just walk around and monitor them for a while to make sure they knew what they were doing. they were ok by teh end of the year, but still not how i hoped. i had a tough class though too.
     
  4. kinderteacher20

    kinderteacher20 Rookie

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    Ok, I have a small, but different, problem with my centers. I currently have four centers--reading, art, imagination, and math. I had a center where I worked with a small group of students, but my aide had to go full-time to preschool, so I thought it would be better to monitor my students, then later (hopefully) I can start that center back up again. My problem...I have a student (who is repeating Kindergarten, although I did not teach him..this is my first year) who refuses to go to any center but the imagination. I assign each student to a center, so they are able to make it to each center. When he has to go to any center other than the imagination center (esp. the reading center), he throws a FIT. He'll cry, shout, throw things, etc. I tell him that if he does not go to his assigned center, he will not be allowed to go to the imagination center on his assigned day. That will usually encourage him to go, but by that time, 15-20 minutes has gone by and he has about 5-10 minutes of "quality time" in the center he was originally supposed to be in, and therefore, not completing the required work for that center. Does anybody have any suggestions I could try for dealing with this student? Also, is threatening to take away the imagination center for him a logical consequence? I am open to all suggestions. Thanks!
     
  5. emartin05

    emartin05 Rookie

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    Sep 5, 2006

    I just started centers with my kiddos today and things actually went smoothly! :) We are required to do 60 minutes of literacy centers, but the idea is the same.
    As far as rotating the groups, I use a wheel that has four parts and write the kids names in different groups and four different areas for activities - then I simply turn the wheel when I want them to switch. Right now, I have them all come back to the carpet and we look together at where everyone will go next. It does take longer, but it's a necessity right now and soon they'll be able to check the wheel themselves and figure out where to go.
    Last year I also put on arrows on the floor to show the direction in which the centers rotated. This was really helpful once I had them try to use the wheel on their own - but my new room set up doesn't reallly allow for me to use them again.
    I also put out picture directions at each center to remind the kids what they should be doing and choose a "captain" for each group who can come to me with questions if they do not know what to do.
    I had a little boy last year who would not go to the center he was assigned to and I started giving him his own basket of activities to do on his own. It didn't take long before he could work just fine in the center he was supposed to be in because he wanted to be back with the class so badly.
     
  6. krisaustin

    krisaustin Companion

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    Sep 5, 2006

    Love the idea of the arrows on the floor. I could also use stop signs in front of each center.

    My centers are a bit different because I have a small class size due to the fact that I am special ed. Although I want my students to rotate to the various centers that I have set up in the classroom. I am thinking about having them spend 10 minutes at most in each center.

    I am using the centers as a way to keep the other students occupied when I am working with small groups or 1:1. Right now the students are with me for 2 hours a day. One in the morning and one in the afternoon and I spend about 30 minutes of small group instruction or 1:1 instruction during their time with me. The rest of the time with me they will be working at centers or art projects related to our phonics/reading of the day.
     
  7. Dzenna

    Dzenna Groupie

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    Sep 5, 2006

    I use centers for the first 30 minutes and last fifteen minutes of the day. During that time I work one-on-one with the children. My children select which center they would like to visit. I have a sand center, water center, block center, housekeeping, science, manipulative, writing, reading, puzzles and game, carpentry, art and 2 easels. They are require little or no assistance.
     
  8. krisaustin

    krisaustin Companion

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    Do you ever require them to change if they keep choosing the same center?
     
  9. Dzenna

    Dzenna Groupie

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    No, but I limit the number of children that can be at each center. My aide works one-on-one on an art project and I work one-on-one on math/science. So, when we call them away from their center to work with us, it is often filled with another child. Usually, they rotate on their own. I change the centers often to attract them and the most popular ones (art easels and woodwork) limited to 1. When the children see they are empty, they will quickly switch!!! Often, they'll switch to be with a friend. Also, I'lll watch which centers a child avoids and suggest they go there. Usually they will. I don't do that often.
     
  10. Carolyn

    Carolyn Rookie

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    Sep 5, 2006

    Here are some suggestions. They have worked rather well these past few weeks.
    Introduce one center at a time. Label the center (I use the name of the center and a number) YOU teach a minilesson on each center. You go over what they CAN do at a center. (I type these and post them in the center) and I do exactly what they are to do in the centers. They only watch. Then, I choose two students to show me how they are suppose to work at the center while the rest of the class watches.
    The students have what I call a travel log. They are to take the travel log to their centers and write the date, and the center name (they only write the number of the center they are in becuase it takes too long to write the name) and they write the name of the book for example, if they were in the library. They may just draw a smiley face to let me know they liked the book or a picture, or write about the book. The travel log holds them accountable for activities they do in the center.
    If they become disruptive while I'm having reading groups, they are called out of the center and must sit by me or go to their desk and put their heads down. Most importantly, YOU have to model for them what YOU are expecting them to do in a center. A great book is by Debbie Diller Literacy Work Stations. It's my bible when it comes to introducing centers.

    I also have a timer. My reading groups are 20 minutes long, therefore I set the timer at 15 min. When it goes off, that is their signal to finish up in their travel logs and clean up the center.
    I have a work center board with two names on a row. They rotate four times during 20 min. intervals. I have 10 centers, which they will eventually go to each center by Friday.
    Hope this helps. :)
     
  11. karalotta

    karalotta Rookie

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    Sep 6, 2006

    I had trouble with my centers at first also. What I did was made a necklaces with a different color of yarn for each group and had a notecard on each with the same color and the group's own shape. So say I had green triangles, yellow circles, red stars, and orange squares. Then I played a game with them where I called the groups by their names such as green triangles and had them stand up. I did this for awhile, having them stand up and sit down when I called their group. After this, I rang a bell to have them line up on the outside of their table (I have four tables in a circle with room in the middle) Then I had the line leader at each table point to the next table to walk to. When I rang the bell again, they marched to their seats. I practiced this for about an hour and they loved it!! The necklaces helped a great deal because I have a tiny room and they would always get mixed up. This way, everyone knew where they were supposed to be because they stayed with their groups.
    The next day I put simple activities at their tables so that we could continue to practice the center routine. I had out playdoh, puzzles, and so on.
    Finally, today I had a table with a hand-out, a sorting alphabet activity, alphabet puzzles, and I worked with a table. In a few weeks I will begin to pull students by level from their groups to my table to work with guided reading.
    My assistant suggested that we could use a smiley sheet that has 4 smiles for each day. Each of the tables in my room have a color taped on them. When they complete their center, they will color one of the smilies the color off of the table. This way, at the end, we will know what they have finished and it keeps them focused.
    I am going to try to have one activity where my assistant can guide them, one where I will pull them, and 2 others (like sorting, organizing, and so on)
    I hope this helps!
     
  12. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    I LOVE that idea about the wheel! Right now, I have my students' name on their own index cards and they are placed next to these color cards. This way, it allows for flexiblity. If I notice two students not getting along or are to hyper with each other, or I want to work with a particular group of students, I can easily mvoe their names. But the wheel sounds very cute.
    I have 4 centers each day. One is always journal. The other three change daily. Students are grouped heterogeniously and are put into colored groups. I have a yellow group, green, blue, and orange group. I also have a leader for each group. I use a yellow, green, blue, and orange paper clip and clip it on the students index card. They are in charge of keeping the groups quiet and making sure they are working. They love that responsibility. Each center is only 10 minutes long and I use a timer to keep track. When it goes off, they have 2 minutes to clean up and stand behind their chair quietly. I then tell them where to go next. We travel in a circly around the classroom. that's why I like the wheel idea. I wonder how I can work that in. Oh, and each table has a colored shape. So, green group, move to the circle table. Orange group, move to the square table. At this moment, I don't have an aide. So the first week, they did their workshop all at their desk, they had two things to work on. This was so get them used to working by themself and quietly. next week, I introduced centers. I monitored for that week. Last week, I took over the journal center, while the other three work by themselves.
    ALSO, I play classical music while they do centers. I told them this is brain music and it will help us to make our brains get bigger. So, it is importnat that we whisper talk so that we can hear the music. Works very well!!!
     
  13. KdgtnCop

    KdgtnCop Rookie

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    Here's a few center ideas: I use name cards, and rotate the person who gets to pick "first" each day. Each child chooses the center they go to...if the center is full (some have 4, other centers are for 2) then they must pick from what is available. Some ideas: Life skills (4), Blocks (4), art(2), Library (4), puzzles and games(4), doll house(2), gears(2), pattern blocks (2), Play doh and math (2), writing (4), puppets (4), sand and water(2). Once a week, open a "super secret special surprise center".... It could be a new computer game, Polly Pockets, special Hot Wheels car tracks, Lincoln Logs, Legos, etc.(something you would not ordinarily have out to choose)
    Another suggestion is to play classical music during center time. Also, when first introducing centers, model the set-up and clean-up for them ,and limit the first few days to about 15 minutes. I use jingle bells for "clean up" time. Whatever you feel comfortable with, and works for you! Good luck!
     
  14. SarahnVA

    SarahnVA Rookie

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    Sep 7, 2006

    I haven't had time to read all of the responses yet but I'm getting to them! This is my first year teaching and I just started center activities today and am going VERY slowly with it. I'm not too sure if its because I want to remain in control over the class, or if its good for the kids. I started with placing different center activities at the kids' tables and having them play with the groups they sit with. At a certain time I had them switch tables to play with another activity. This is not how I will run my centers, but I wanted them to learn how to work the puzzles, puppets, art, etc. in their familar enviornment (their desks). Next week I'm taking a step up from this and assigning their table groups to go to specific center areas. Depending on how this week goes and if I make sure each group visits each center, I will begin to let them choose their centers on the third week. My district is pretty pushy on having choice centers (at least 40 mins) every day.

    Also, I love the idea of playing classical music during centers, I'm going to try that tomorrow!
     
  15. Lnmjesse

    Lnmjesse Rookie

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    Sep 8, 2006

    You should be thankful that your district wants you to do that because that is so age appropriate! My former principal did not understand the importance of choice centers! She wanted them to be so structured that it wouldn't have been enjoyable for me or the kids! Just remember that children at this age learn through play.
     
  16. SarahnVA

    SarahnVA Rookie

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    Sep 9, 2006

    Oh don't worry, I love them having centers and understand thats how our five year olds learn, its just the teaching of routines that I don't love. I think I'm getting better at it and I'm learning more about them while they're learning things too!
     
  17. diro.pams

    diro.pams Companion

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    I've conducted many formats of centers over the yrs. When I moved into my current "K" setting, I took up the format my coworker uses: 3 or 4 centers, I'm at one, coworker at another, aide at the last one. Students are not assigned to groups or formal rotations. But they must work and complete the assignments at all of the centers within the hour. Each center has a class list and the students cross their name off when they begin the new center. At moments everyday it may get a little hairy because we're completing a worksheet, while a few others have just begun it. But in all it's nice because that effort to keep a group moving together is so hard. We have a list of 2 or 3 activities they can choose from after the centers are accomplished (listening post, math manipulatives, etc) Of course, this system needs 3 adults. As the year goes on, we usually add a 5th center that is independent. But it is important to start centers at a minimal level and keep adding to it. It helps the students get the idea of how to handle this time.
     
  18. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    That is exactly how I did my centers last year and I LOVED it! You're right. Having set groups gets a bit difficult because some kids work faster than others. But, it also, like you said, requires three adults to do. This year I"m all alone so I have to put my kids into groups and we have to work for 10 minutes before switching. I hate it, but what can I really do. It's not a good situation for me, but you know how budget is like right now. Money for war, nothing for school.
     
  19. ad65shorty

    ad65shorty Companion

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    I was always taught to take a month or so to introduce your center management, and then to implement guided reading. It's not a waste of time because it makes your guided reading so much more productive if your children can work independently. Otherwise, you spend your time managing them and not working with your small groups.

    I began so slowly with my kids (I taught 1st grade and now preschool so it's a bit different but not much). I would take out one center in front of the whole class, show them the activities in it, and how to properly put it all away. Then, the kids would work independently at their desks, and I would select a few students at a time to come "play" with the center. They would only stay for a short time, then put everything away. We slowly added different center activities each day until I knew they understood how to properly handle all materials.

    After that, I would sit at my kidney table "working" while they did their centers (I did not take any kids at this time). I explained my rules: No one can come to me unless they're bleeding, barfing, or dieing (I can't remember the cute saying I had. Sorry...). I had a bathroom pass for any bathroom emergencies. When someone would come to try to talk to me, I would simply put my hand up and turn them away. Harsh?! Maybe, but it paid off in the long run. They knew not to talk to me whenever I was at the kidney table. This usually took about a week (with a good group, a few days).

    Then, after all of that, I could slowly start pulling students back. It takes forever, but it's worth it. I also had a rule that they had to use a "Center voice" (or a whisper). That doesn't work for everyone, but it did for me. I needed it quiet in order to hear kids reading. I also used a very quiet voice during my groups.

    When a sub comes into your room and says she doesn't even need to be there because the kids know just what to do, you know you've done a good job!!

    Good luck!! It's a lot of work but so worth it! I love my center time!
     
  20. Pecas

    Pecas Companion

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    Sep 18, 2006

    I am new to kindergarten also...can anyone give me ideas to use for centers? And maybe explain them to me? :)
     
  21. daysy_may

    daysy_may Groupie

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    Right now we are just practicing our centers, the groups are a little bigger until they get used to them, and so far so good. The arrows are a good idea.
     
  22. diro.pams

    diro.pams Companion

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    Sep 18, 2006

    I usually have 3 centers in Fall, eventually working up to 5. We use our Houghton Mifflin Language Arts for a couple of them per day
    1. HM Phonics (2x per wk) Journals (3x per wk)
    2. HM workpages (4-5 x per wk)
    3. another Lang. Arts activity such as a mini book of Mary had a little lamb (color and read) or an activity/page related to our current S.S. or Science unit

    Later in the yr we use Journals 5x per wk, half the time it is an independent center (without an adult)

    Shared reading activities are good with an adult at a center.

    Book read on tape with accompanying books is an independent center idea.

    HM has a letter of the wk song page and letter writing pg, which are independent. I call these activities "Ticket to Recess". Students must place this activity in my designated basket. I dismiss kids to recess by reading off their names from the page in the basket. THAT's a motivator for kids to take care of this independent center.
     

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