Last year I gave my students a free choice playtime for about 20 minutes each day. By Christmas, I realized I had to do something else because the students were going to the same play area everyday, playing with the same kids and being very cliquey. I then starting using learning centers, where the student had a partner that they visited one center each day with (housekeeping, blocks, computers, etc.). This worked wonderfully, and the kids really enjoyed it. This year I began the 1st week giving the students free choice playtime just so they could get comfortable with the room. This week I started the centers like last year, and the kids have been continually asking me, "when do we get freeplay?" and they seemed kind of burned out at the end of the day. Now I'm wondering what I should do. I am fearful of Kindergarten becoming too academic, and want to keep fun and play in my classroom. However, I don't want the issues to arise (that I already started to see last week) with free play that I saw last year. Do you think I should keep the centers and assume that they need to get used to them and the routine, or do I wait to do centers until after Christmas and use freeplay instead. THANKS!!! :help:

I know exactly what you mean. My pre-k kids would choose the same thing every day if I didn't make them do "centers" that I have chosen. first, I would give them "freedom friday" which allows the kids one day a week where they can choose their own play time activities. How do the kids get assigned to centers? Do they pick their center choice of the day or do you assign them which one they go to? How often do the activities at the center change? Is there any other time in your day that you could take 20 minutes out of to have a separate "free choice" time?

I group my students daily (different groups) and rotate them around the different areas (housekeeping, blocks, trains, trucks, puzzles). It seems to be working. And they are still playing with each other.

I group them and rotate them throughout all centers. On Fridays they choose their center. I found the same problem with the cliques and no willingness to 'stretch' in other play areas when I let them choose all but two days a week when I would group them. They still have the choice to play freely in the center, they just don't choose where and with whom they have in their center. It works quite well.

Some teachers I know will close particular areas, or say "Home Living is only open to boys today" or "Only open to girls today" so that it gets kids playing in different areas... if that helps

As a director of a child care center, I observe how the children flow throughout the centers as an indication of teacher action. If all the children go to the homemaking center each day, it might be due to a lack of anything interesting in the other centers. I encourage teachers to put props in each area--if you are studying oceans, put shells in the science area, sand in the sensory table, salt in the paint. Then, spend some time explaining to the children what you have for them to experience today.

I would have academic center time for an hour. If students finished their work early, as they worked at their own pace, then they would get free time and play with some toys (puzzles, math manipulatives, etc.This worked really well for them.

After we finish our table work, the children look at the color wheel (which I rotate dialy) to see where there color group plays today. That prevents overcrowding in the different areas, as I can have 30 kids in my class (now I have 28) Every other day we go outside instead. We have a huge yard with lots of room. Each trimester I will change the childrens color groups as well.

Thanks for all of the ideas! I think I'm going to try something different this week and see how it works: When the kids come in the morning they get to have table time for about 20 minutes (puzzles, coloring, table toys). I'm going to substitute this time for a freeplay time in which they can find a place to play around the room. I will then continue my structured learning and reading centers. I'm hoping this will work-last year I had 16 kids and kind of a tough class, so table time in the morning was essential. This year I only have 12 and they seem to be able to play better. I'll let you know how it goes!

I know in a class I subbed in the teacher had colored clothes pins...you took a clothes pin from the area you were in & "clipped" it to your shirt & then she would have them rotate. She could also see if kids were in the areas they weren't suppose to be if they had the wrong "clothes" pins. It worked really good!!!

We have regular centers everyday but Friday. M-Thursday I have activities planned around what we are learning that week and I have them grouped. Friday they have free centers. I put out different fun activities and they can pick where they want to go. The kids love it. During the week when they are finished their work they can do a puzzle, lacing cards, color, look at a book, and play with the puppets.

I student taught in a kinder room where in the morning she would have structured centers and in the afternoons the centers would be more freeplay.

I only have ten kids, but this works well for me: each child has a number. "Number 1" rotates each day, so each day a different child gets to choolse their center first. Since there are some more "desirable " centers (my kids are crazy for the sensory stuff, like water table and clay), they rotate through them pretty well. I haven't seen anyone "stuck" in a center. Also, they have to play with different kids because I only allow 2-4 kids per center.