Thursday, June 7, 2012

All about Centers: a series by Ms. Patterson from Pocket Full of Kinders

Shuna copy
Hiya Peeps
Ms. Patterson here
I am thrilled to be guest blogging for Lacey!!!!
I so heart her

Can you tell I am thrilled?
No really that IS my thrilled face!
Not really BUT this is the first picture that popped up so hey we are going to
roll with it
Rolling on


I am joining you to blog about my fav time of the school day……………………………………………………….

Welcome to my center series

I will be blogging each Thursday in the month of June about a different topic related to centers

Today I will be blogging about how to organize centers
So what are centers?
Why are centers needed?
Where do I start?

I know as a first year teacher all of these questions ran through my mind. I was at a complete lost and it took me a while to figure out what the heck I was doing. By no means am I an expert but my principal calls me the small group queen so……………………….

I guess I will toot my own horn

Toot, Toot!

Moving right along

I don’t want to lose you

Back to the matter at hand

It can be very difficult for a teacher to meet each individual child’s need especially when that teacher has 33 kinders (that would be me) for the first 2 months of school! How do you do centers when you have that many children and how do you do them successfully?
I eventually ended up with 29 kiddos and I had 14 stations. I have 2 students per group which made my center time so much easier
I have tried groups of four or five and it was just too darn many and all they did was argue!
Sorry so off topic
Must stop rambling
Must stop rambling
*Shake, Shake*
I think it is all out of my system now
We may now more on
Centers are a great way to differentiate instruction and provide students with opportunities to learn independently
So here goes
Setting up stations

Step 1: Plan your space

Decide how many stations you would like to have and how you want to arrange those stations. It is a good idea to arrange your stations from quiet to loud or loud to quiet. You don’t want your library station right next to the listening station, now would you?
Maybe you would but I sure don't

I don’t have a large room by any means but I did run 14 stations for literacy and 14 stations for math! It was very messy but we lived
I mean it looked like a hurricane and an earthquake came through and we were the remains after the storm
But it is okay we were learning
Don't be afraid of a little mess

All of my stations were portable and the students would either go to a table or use the floor for stations.
Mostly the floor because the kiddos liked to lay on it after sitting in chairs all morning

When I set up my room I did so with centers in mind

My stations were arranged as follows

I had my centers arranged so that they flow around the outer edges of the room in a circle

So that when students moved to their next rotation I didn’t have to lose time with them trying to figure out what station to go to next! They just simply moved to the station that was to their right
Here is an example of my station list
Station One being the quietest station and the stations gradually get louder the lower down the station list you go  then gradually back to quiet
Remember my station are set up in a circle so Station 14 is actually next to Station 1

Station One: Alphabet/Buddy Reading
Station Two: Listening Station
Station Three: Word Work
Station Four: Library
Station Five: Spelling
Station Six: Computer
Station Seven: Sensory
Station Eight: Word Family/Word Work
Station Nine: Magnet
Station Ten: Word Wall
Station Eleven: Pocket Chart
Station Twelve: Write the Room
Station Thirteen: Phonics
Station Fourteen: Journals
When planning your space make sure that you clearly section each area and define each center space. You can do this with a bookshelf, furniture, or rugs.

Step 2:How will you store your center material?
When planning for your stations it is important that you plan how you will store your material
I have a teeny tiny problem with cute storage containers so I use these to store my center materials in
I am very ocd about my center buckets. My centers usually have several parts: games, manipulatives, crayons, pencils and etc
These were my center buckets at the beginning of the year. I don't have many bookshelves so I had to make one out of crates
The baskets on the top row  are for literature centers and the red baskets are for math stations
The buckets are two to a crate so that students know which basket to go and pull. In the first crate there are baskets for stations 1 and 2 in the next crate stations 3 and 4 and so on. The baskets are in the correct order of the stations for example the blue basket in crate one is for Station 1 and the purple basket is for Station 2. The center captains of responsible for getting their basket and putting it back. ( We will talk about center captains in another post)

Below are some examples of how I store my material
Each basket has a label so that I along with my students know what belongs in what station.
Inside the spelling station basket is everything they would need to complete the station
I don't allow my students to walk around during center time so I take a little extra time preparing my centers so that everything students would need is already in their center bucket.

The listening station material remains next to the listening station.

 Listening center materials
A book inside the ziploc bag with the cd
Game with pieces and boards for when the students finished listening to the story

Station 3. Setting up your small group area
When my students are in centers that is when I pull my small group
Here is a look at my small group area
My small group area is located in the back of the room so it is far away from the other students will still close enough for me to monitor them
I have a space for my anchor charts that I create with my groups
A pocket chart for various activities and my letter tubs in the windowsill for easy access
The area below the pocket chart is magnetic so I utilize that space also
A white board is a must!
IF you don't have one a table top one will do
The purple bucket on the white board holds student's pointers for guided reading
I have two buckets that hold my pointers, small anchor charts, sight words, alphabet cards and picture cards. The crates on the left side hold activities that my small group is working on that week and also binders for me to track their progress.
The pink container in the middle also holds games and reading buddies
The two crates on the right hold another set of alpha cards and also the students guided reading books
Peace out Peeps
Don't forget to check me out next week
Next up is
Organizing stations and managing them
Make sure you come back each week
there might be a boatload of goodies for you at the end but you didn't hear that from me!
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  1. Great stuff - I am definitely looking forward to your series! I am so impressed you managed 14 centers at a time! Thanks for sharing :)


  2. I have done the two to a center too and it did work well but its a lot of upkeep... but it was less issues with arguing.. I may try that again next year. I have a debbie diller chart that allowed for 2 in a group that I used a few years ago

  3. Awesome info! Thanks for sharing!

    Jen's Kinder Kids
    Please come by & visit!

  4. I love how you have all of your centers organized around the outside edge of your classroom in order from quietest up to loudest. You've really given a lot of thought into your centers!
    Learning Is Something to Treasure

  5. This is GREAT!! I always need help with centers. I'm so looking forward to this series. thanx

  6. I am happy that you all found this post useful

    I was so worried about it

    Thanks again

    Pocket Full of Kinders

    Shuna P

    1. It's incredible! SO useful! And so thankful you were willing!

  7. Very impressive. I'll be looking for your series posts !
    BTW, I LOVE your "thrilled" face -- ha ha.

    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers Blog Designs

  8. I completely agree about keeping it 2 to a center. It sounds overwhelming buts it's actually way easier to manage the kids and the volume this way. My biggest problem is always storage options for so many centers. Part of my summer "to do" list is to get that figured out. You'd think it'd be easy considering I too have a tiny problem with overstocking organizational bins :)

    ❤- Stephanie
    Falling Into First

  9. I LOVE this! It's my 30th year of teaching K & I LOVE centers. I rotate around the outside of the room as well! I also definitely use 2 to a center. BUT I have lots to learn from you, because I've not had any formal training, it is all from experience & preference....but I have to say, it is my favorite time of the day, & the times we don't have time for centers, (due to field trips, short days, programs, etc) the children will literally whine: We didn't have centers today..................... : ) I stay HOURS each day planning & prepping & I'm eager (so is my family) to learn a better way to get organized & use my time.

  10. Love the idea! I tried centers this year with a class of 27 and tried five or six in each group and it did not work at all!! So appreciate these tips!! Keep them coming I will certainly come back to learn more!



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