We've finally gotten into the "swing" of centers in Kindergarten. It's definitely much different teaching Kindergarteners how to do centers than it is first graders! First graders definitely have some experience with centers, while Kindergarteners do not! I also gave my firsties a lot more freedom when it came to centers than I do my Kinders, not that it's a bad thing!
So I thought I'd share how I'm running my centers now that I'm back to teaching Kindergarten.
In first grade, I was basically forced to use homogeneous grouping (something I did NOT like), but in Kindergarten, we use heterogeneous grouping. I arranged my center groups so that I have a high, medium, and struggling student in pretty much every group. There are 3 kids per each center group, and there are 8 groups of students.
Our center rotation chart tells the students where they are going. I dismiss them to their centers, and then I call one of my reading groups to my table to work on reading. This means that they do miss one of their center activities, but I feel it's more important that students are learning how to read with me than completing some work that they may complete incorrectly anyway.
Read/Write Around the Room is another activity the kids love! So far, we've been doing different Write Around the Room themes, such as fall words, Thanksgiving words, etc... The kids have to write the word and draw a small picture next to it. If they finish, they can write a sentence on the back of their paper using one of the words. Soon, we're going to alternate these vocabulary building Read Around the Room activities with sight words around the room. :-)
In Phonics, we've done a ton of sorting activities. We've sorted beginning sounds, rhyming words, syllables, even ending sounds. We've differentiated some of the activities for different students, so some students may be working on rhyming words while others may be working on beginning sounds.
We also have two reading centers, since reading is so important! We have "Read to Self" and "Buddy Reading" in our center rotation. One important thing we need for these centers are our book boxes! I buy the magazine holders from IKEA and allow my students to decorate them however they like.
Inside their book boxes, they get to keep the books they borrow from me, as well as the books they've made in the classroom, and then any books I give them to keep in their book boxes. We have these little bags to keep our "just right books" in. These are the books they've made in the classroom and can pretty much read on their own.
We do Read to Self in our book nook. I like to have lots of different places for the kids to sit down and read.
We do Buddy Reading on the carpet. Sometimes we have 2 students in a group, but usually we have 3, so it's usually "group reading" instead of buddy reading. It usually works out.
We also have a poetry center! We put a new poem in our notebook every week! The poems are all songs or poems we've sang or read in our classroom. For example, this apple tree poem is something we did as a choral reading activity. The kids glued it into their notebooks and drew a tree to match each part of the poem. Then they practice reading their poems to an adult.
The other centers that we do are writing and computers. Computers are pretty self-explanatory- the students get on Successmaker and complete that program. For writing, we usually do a response to a book that we read, such as writing about our favorite character or telling what happened at the beginning, middle, and end of a story.
I have not added Listen to Reading (mostly because I'm lazy!), but someday, I plan on adding it as well. I just really need to take the time to get all my CDs uploaded to iTunes and then have them synced to the iPods. We may add that one after Christmas!
I hope you enjoyed this little peek into my classroom!