To follow up on my week of fun post yesterday, I'm going to share my newest product with you that I created to add a little excitement to our math centers this week! My students are wiggly and losing focus in anticipation of winter break and holiday fun so I knew I needed to kick it into gear to get them excited about school this week! I revamped our centers so that they have a winter focus.
We work on 5-6 centers a day during math time and right now we're focusing on counting on, matching numbers to their value and representing numbers in different ways. We currently have 4 of my 10 center choices from my Winter Math Activities product out in our classroom (which leaves 6 new ones to come back to after break!). I added another hands-on measuring activity in place of one from my product as well.
1. Collect 10, 15 or 20 Together: In this activity, my students roll the dice and put that many mini marshmallows on their 10 frames. They then have to keep rolling the dice and count on until they reach their goal number. This game is a play off of Math Investigations, the curriculum we use. We're currently working on collecting 20 together.
2. Number Matching: In this center, students get to fill up their "hot coca" with as many marshmallows as the paper indicates. My kiddos LOVE this center because they often make the personal connection to their memories of drinking hot chocolate. Students also get to practice writing the numbers as well which they enjoy.
3. Match the 10 Frame: In this center, my minders have to match the 10 frame given on the top of the page and correctly count and identify the total number of snowflakes needed to make their own. I found these cute snowflakes at Michael's on sale!
4. Tally it, Make it: We have been working HARD on representing numbers in different ways, especially with tallies! It can be hard to remember that diagonal line for 5! Instead of having students just write the tallies, I decided to use small popsicle sticks so that they can easily manipulate them. My kinders also represent the value of the number by using craft snowflakes.
5. Measuring with marshmallows!!: This one isn't in my product, but it's pretty self explanatory. Anything my little ones can reach from the carpet, they can measure with large marshmallows! They took after their leaf measuring center and began to measure themselves today.
As we continue our week, we're working on a TON of winter crafts that I hope to get up by the end of the week. We're creating ornaments and completing writing prompts with art activities. I'm excited for you to see it! I hope you're enjoying your week before break with your kiddos!
Keeping things organized
Like always, I like to create a space that's easy for my kiddos to maneuver and work with. My goal is always to get my students to be as independent as possible so that they can take responsibility for their own learning. This is why I put all of the centers and materials that they'll be using on a daily basis on a low level that's easy for them to reach. I also do my best to keep everything labeled and in bins or baskets so that they're easy to carry around the room - my students take the baskets from the shelves to a spot in the room to work in. Here is how I have my word work center set up:
As you can see, since it's the beginning of the year, we're focusing primarily on letter identification and sound recognition. I threw in some rhyming because we've worked on that and it needs to be reinforced independently. I only introduce three baskets at a time so that students aren't overwhelmed with new activities and the directions that go with them. This is also a way to keep students engaged and to prevent them from getting bored quickly by introducing at once and as a result, overusing the activities.
Introducing the concept of word work
Word work is one of the few centers that my students are allowed to move around in. We put a lot of focus on staying in one spot for centers like read to self or tablets. For word work, I want students to be able to work on multiple activities, but I want them to learn how to do that respectfully and quietly. To introduce the concept, I sometimes do a "write the room" like I did today. Write the room is an activity I sometimes incorporate into word work throughout the year and it encourages movement and focus. We did a trial run today with the letters F-N. I explained to students that our word work center would be similar to this and we talked about how important it is to keep focus even while moving around the room. Write the room also encourages students to look in multiple places for an answer they may need such as the word wall, the Phonics Dance letters, the focus wall etc. Here's what write the room looked like for us this morning - the students did really well with it and it carried over to their behavior during word work!
Working Together In the Center
Something I do in the beginning of the year during word work is intentionally put out less centers than there are students. This encourages sharing, community building and the ability for students to learn from each other. Right now students are grouped by RTI tiers (mostly so that I can remember who belongs in what tier), but throughout the year I will probably split them into heterogeneous groups so that students can learn from others who are on different levels. I also change groups frequently so that students can never get too comfortable and stick with just one partner - I think it's important for them to form bonds with everyone in the class. Working together in these centers sets a strong foundation for our classroom community and for other centers/group activities throughout the day.
Our reading centers are about an hour after our day starts so it really sets the tone for how our day will go.
The students and I review our expectations together before centers every day and we have silent signals to help get each other back on track. I've come to find that the less kiddos can engage themselves in silly, off track behavior during centers (even if they're genuinely trying to get other kids on track), the better off we are. That's why we created our silent signals! Students can put their finger on their lips to remind others to use quiet voices, they can point to our expectations poster if someone is having a difficult time or they can give students a "zero" sign if they are in a center that is intended to be silent (like tablets or read to self).
Here's how some of my students looked while working on word work today!
What are you doing for your word work centers? I'm always looking for fun new activities to add in!
I like to get my centers going and running smoothly as soon as possible in my classroom. As mentioned in previous posts, I usually start with community building centers and sneak in the academic ones one at a time each week. This week we introduced the writing center. The most important thing for a child to learn to write is his or her name! It builds confidence for their ability to write all other things. That's why before I use my writing center as an actual "writing center", it's used as a name center. This gives students the opportunity to practice writing their names and their friends names in a variety of ways before they start working on sight words, sentences and stories.
Because I started my year off with several young kiddos with late summer or early fall birthdays, the name center is essential to my classroom this year. We started with it full swing this week and it has been very successful so far! Here is how I have it set up to ensure that students can be as independent as possible during center time!
Starting off, students can pick one of three activities provided in drawers next to the writing center. They are labeled with my favorite chalkboard labels from the Dollar Spot at Target. I loaded up on these at the beginning of the year and find new uses for them almost every day! The drawers are clearly labeled with numbers so students know which ones they can pick from.
I've noticed that one of the most important things for me to do for my writing center is to have everything prepared for the students so that they don't have to get up! Nothing is more distracting for a kindergartener than to see a classmate wandering the room looking for supplies during center time. They tend to stop, chat, and the next thing you know, they're talking about recess, and that one time they played at grandma's house. As funny as kindergarten conversations can be, it's important for them to stay focused during center time. That's why I have all the writing supplies they could need in little cups at the writing station. Additionally, I have all of their names posted on the writing bulletin board so that they don't have to walk over to the word wall to find them. I'm planning on adding their pictures near their names to help them with associating the names to the correct people.
In my name center, I start out with some of the easiest, no prep activities in my Name Activities pack in my TPT store to get students familiar with name writing. Right now, we're using an activity in which students write their names and then measure how long their name is with counting bears, an activity where students circle the letters in their name and an activity where students write their own name, a friend's name and then draw a picture of their friend. Students have really enjoyed these so far! My product has nine different activities in it so I can go for three weeks, rotating centers without having to recycle them!
Hanging above the center is a poster reminding my kiddos to work on stamina! This seems to be our mantra in Room 7 this year, I can't turn around during centers without hearing someone saying they're working on their stamina! This poster can be found in my What Can I Write About product. This word has been very effective for my group this year - it reminds them that it's okay if it's hard, but that practicing helps them to get better!
In a few weeks, my students will be ready for sight words and simple sentences in the writing center and I'll be redoing the entire thing (with a similar framework) so that they can still be challenged. Look for posts about how it changes throughout the year.