Archive for August, 2016

postheadericon Using what you already have for your centres.

When I first started doing centres, I found it very daunting. First of all, I hadn’t yet discovered the secret to managing centres . Secondly, everything took so much time to make! I wanted everything to look perfect. I spent a small fortune on printer ink or sending things to a printing company so that it would be colourful and bright. I laminated everything and anything. I spent hours cutting and gluing and colouring my centres. Centres were all themed based, by month, holidays or class contents. The cuter the better.

But what I learned is that although all though this made my centres attractive, it didn’t make them meaningful. To make them more meaningful I had to take things were were already doing in class and extend them in our centres. Yes, I still have some prep work, and the laminator is my best friend, but I’m using things I already have on hand, and things that my students already know how to use so they can be independent.

Here are a few things I have turned into centres

Big Book Centre

This centre is exactly what it sounds like. Students hunker down on the mat and go through the big books. Sometimes they are just looking at the pictures, or looking for certain letters or words. We have read most of them in class all together to they are familiar with them. I also put in the class books that we have made together, which are definitely their favourites.

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The documents is formatted for 8"x11" and I increase the size on our photocopier to 11"x17" (129%).

The documents is formatted for 8"x11" and I increase the size on our photocopier to 11"x17" (129%).

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Songs

I do a new song with the students every week. We look for letters, sounds, and sight words. It is a great way to teach french vocabulary. I then put a copy in a folder and send them home weekly to practice. When we were done with a song, I used to put my big chart paper songs back into the cupboard until I needed them again next year.

Not anymore!

Now tape them to a metal hanger (0ne song on each side), hang them on a garment rack, add some pointers, and voila! I have a Song/Poem centre. Students do exactly what we did when we were learning the songs all together in class. They look for letters, sounds and words. And of course, most importantly, they SING!

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Printing

I don’t do a whole lot paper activities in my class. Most activities are hands on. However, I do think it is important to practice printing and practice recording our numbers. Whenever I have something that I want to students to get a lot of practice doing, I just take the very activities we do in class together, I chuck it into a sheet protector, toss in a erasable marker, and I have a new centre! Get the printing practice sheet here.

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postheadericon Boom!

I’ve seen many different names for this game. BANG! ZUT! BOOM! I picked BOOM! but you can really call it anything you want. This is an easy set up game. All you need is a cup, a marker and something to write on. In the pictures below I used foam sticks, but I have used popsicle sticks, tongue depressors, or even paper.

Here is how you play

In the cup are your sticks (or strips of paper). Each has a letter on one end. You put them all in facing down. There are a few extra sticks that have BOOM! written on them. Students take turns picking a stick. If they can identify the letter they keep it, if they can’t they put it back. If they get a BOOM! stick they have to return ALL the sticks they have one (except the BOOM! stick or the game will go on forever). Whoever has the most sticks in the end, wins!

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This is a game that the kids love and it is great because you can use it for letter and sound identification, sight word recognition and number recognition. I bet you could use it for number facts too.  I often send this game home with students as extra practice at home. Drill and kill activities can be quite tedious for students, but if you turn it into a game they are much more willing to practice.