How do you work centers for 3 year olds?

Discussion in 'Preschool' started by CrayolaCrayon, Aug 10, 2010.

  1. CrayolaCrayon

    CrayolaCrayon Companion

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    Aug 10, 2010

    Hi everyone! I just accepted a job offer yesterday to teach 3 year olds at a local preschool. They had a lot of enrollment for that age group this year and the director decided to open up a second class for the children that attend half-day. I am very excited! I am meeting with the existing teacher later this week to discuss the curriculum and to learn how she does things, but since I have my own room, I am allowed to do some things differently if I'd like. I am trying to think of the basics in how I want my room to run.

    One thing I would like to know is how you work centers in your classroom. What centers do you have and what is the structure for the children using them throughout the day and week? Do you assign children to a particular center for that day, or do you give the freedom to choose? I worry about if I let them choose, they will always go to the same center. Also, how often do you switch up centers to keep things interesting for the children? For instance, changing what materials are in the sensory table.
     
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  3. dogs&teaching

    dogs&teaching Comrade

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    Aug 10, 2010

    I let my students have free choice on centers. They come in and they have free choice centers for 30 minutes. I don't have the problem that they always go to the same center. All of my students tried each center a couple of times. I try and alternate puzzles and other materials on either a weekly or biweekly basis.

    Our centers are writing, art, reading, blocks, puzzles/math manipulatives, science, dramatic.
     
  4. LvToyFoxTerrier

    LvToyFoxTerrier Rookie

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    Aug 10, 2010

    I divide my kids up evenly among the centers and have them spend 10 minutes at each center and then they rotate to the next center staying in the same groups. This way one center is not too crowded and they don't fight over centers as they know they will all get a turn at each one. I also change my centers every day and do not repeat them for at least a couple of weeks so they won't get tired of them.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2010
  5. Maxadoodle

    Maxadoodle Comrade

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    Aug 10, 2010

    I also give free choice. The first few weeks I model how to play in the various centers and don't have too much out yet. The most popular centers in the beginning are play dough, sensory table, and blocks. As I add toys and materials, the children broaden their horizons and move around the room with their new friends.

    I provide lots and lots of art materials for collage and drawing, and the easel is always open. As for the sensory table, I change mine weekly. As for the other centers, some materials are out year round (ie...unit blocks) while others rotate in and out (ie...foam blocks, DuPlo, log blocks, etc.)
     
  6. annetxa

    annetxa Rookie

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    Aug 13, 2010

    I am starting too.

    I will be teaching three year olds as well and we have no centers. It is more of a school like atmosphere. Is that bad?
     
  7. beckyeduk8er

    beckyeduk8er Comrade

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    Aug 13, 2010

    I do free choice centers for about 45minutes-1 hour daily (I have 3.5 hour classes) . Each center has a sign with Velcro squares to indicate how many kids may be in it. For example, there are 2 squares at the easel and 4 at blocks. Each child has a ticket (I use juice lids with the other side of the Velcro on it) with their name and a special sticker (each child has an individual sticker ex. Joey has a dog, Sam has an elephant-their sticker is also on their name tag, coat hook, cubby, etc.) they hang their ticket up to indicate the center they are working in.

    At the beginning of the year it takes time to model and practice choosing a center, hanging up your ticket, playing in the center, cleaning up your work, taking your ticket down and hanging it up at your new center.

    I don't usually have trouble with kids in the same center constantly but if it does happen I call that child last to choose a center (often it's full by then and they have to choose something new), or I find something new that I know that child will be interested in to put in a different center. This is usually not a problem.

    Center time a wonderful time to practice social skills, reinforce concepts, and observe/interact with students. It is very important. We need to remember and remind parents and administrators that preschool children learn best through play.
     
  8. CrayolaCrayon

    CrayolaCrayon Companion

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    Aug 14, 2010

    Thank you. All of your ideas have been helpful. It's interesting to hear about the different ways that a teacher can organize and work centers in the classroom.

    Annetxa, will this be your first year teaching 3's? I'm surprised that your school doesn't do centers because learning at that age is play-based. How is the classroom set up?

    The meeting was postponed until this Tuesday so I didn't get to find out how many students will be in my class. Once I know that, I'm going to decide how I want to run center.
     
  9. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Aug 14, 2010

    I gave mine free choice. They had center tags. Each center had a certain number of spots, and you put your tag on one of them when you went into it. So if there is no where to put your tag in blocks, you have to go somewhere else. I used velcro on the centers and tags. If students wanted to move, they could move anywhere else they wanted to as long as there was a spot open. About 30 minutes before the end of the day, I'd close certain centers (usually messy ones) by putting up a "Closed" sign over the places for students to hang their tags. It worked well for me!
     
  10. CrayolaCrayon

    CrayolaCrayon Companion

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    Aug 14, 2010

    MissCelia and Becky, your centers sound like they are run similarly.

    I like that the children have free choice but that there is a limit to how many can be at one center. How many students do you have in your classroom? Do you switch up who gets first choice?
     
  11. beckyeduk8er

    beckyeduk8er Comrade

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    Aug 15, 2010

    I have 17 students in each session. The way the children are called to centers can vary. I keep my students tickets in a basket and when it is center time I draw a ticket out and either give clues about the child (is wearing red, is a boy), ask a question (do you like summer or winter better?), or hold up the ticket to see if they recognize their name. At the beginning of the year I wait to pass out the next child's ticket until the previous child has chosen a center (sometimes my aid encourages them to choose). As the children grow comfortable with the routine I call the next child as soon as the previous child has their ticket in their hands. Later in the year I put the tickets out on top of a shelf and call by small group (if you are not wearing short sleeves) to go and find their name. The order the children choose in changes daily.
     
  12. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Aug 15, 2010

    annetxa, 3's need to learn by doing.

    While I know that Head Start and others advocate the velco thing to denote spaces, I also think that children need to problem solve--How many people are in the center? How many can be in the center without being crowded? Is there enough room for me? Do I want to play with the people in the center?
     
  13. raelynn823

    raelynn823 Rookie

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    Aug 16, 2010

    go to www.pre-kpages.com its my absolute favorite site for how to set up a preschool classroom. i am a home daycare, but ive used many, if not most, of her ideas in my home. (i think shes a member on here too.....)
     

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