Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Ins and Outs of Center Time

Center time in a pre-k classroom can be as varied as the children in our rooms!  I am going to share how centers work in our classroom.  This is what works in our classroom, but there are so many DIFFERENT approaches so PLEASE continue to use what works for you and take any ideas you think might enhance your program.

 and answers...


Our center time is one hour each day.


We start on the carpet at circle and the child vocalize where they want to go.  
At the beginning of the year, we work on naming each center.

By midyear, the children are answering in a complete sentence.
"I want to play at the block center."

Towards the end of the year, I model (a lot) and encourage students
 to share where they are going and what they want to do.

"I am going to art to watercolor paint."


Yes and No! 
I do limit the number of children at each center, 
but they do not wear necklaces or move their card on a choice board.

 Based on the size of our room,
I limit dramatic play and blocks to four children each. 
 Most other centers limit themselves by the number of chairs at a table.

The children are able to move around freely 
as long as there is space in the center they want to go to.
I honestly can not keep track of those necklaces or boards.  They stress me out!
My students learn quickly the expectations and limitations during centers.

Do they still  sometimes ask if they can move to the ____ center?
But we always ask them, "What to do think?" or "What do you need to do?"


Yes and No!

Art, Math, and the Alphabet tables change daily.  
I plan a different activity for the table top centers each day to keep their interest 
as I rotate toys and activities through as well as integrate any themed activities. 

If a child asks for a different activity and there is room at the table, 
they are able to take it out and they are also responsible to put it away before moving on.

           Science, Sensory, Blocks, Dramatic Play and the Light Table change weekly or bi-weekly  
depending on the theme or interest in the room.


 They are responsible for cleaning up their spot and are then able to select 
a new center where there is space.  



I like balance and I believe children can benefit form a variety of activities.  
So sometimes, I have them complete an art project or a science experiment.  

We might be preparing for a holiday or even a science unit
 so I call them over to the activity 
and they are able to return to their center of choice when they are done. 

We "hold" their space there and let others know they are returning 
when they finish the "must do" activity.

We try to limit this during center time and
complete these activities during our Small Group time.
For more information on Small Group time click HERE.


Modeling, playing,  listening, sharing, observing, problem solving, 
assessing, leading activities, and working with students.

Here are some of our favorite activities during center time.
 Some of these are affiliate links .
Just click on the picture of the item you are interested in checking out!


Here is a pinnable post image for your convenience!

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Teaching Diversity Through Children's Literature

Teaching diversity in our classrooms is one of the most important things we can do!  Children's literature can often be the bridge for making connections for our young students.  Integrating these stories throughout the school year is key.

We often start the year off with an All About Me unit.  This is the perfect gateway into taking about how we are all alike and we are all different!  Here some of my favorite picks to share with my students in August and September.

February lends itself to talking about friendships.  I love that so many children see their friends for who they are inside and out!  These are two of my favorite stories that celebrate friendship despite our differences.

Integrating multicultural literature throughout the year is essential if we want to build a community of acceptance, compassion and tolerance.  I believe sharing these stories helps our students make connections to different types of people who may or may not look like them.  Then when you have truly made these connections, children can then develop empathy for others.

I hope you'll join me in teaching diversity through children's literature!
I would love to hear some of your favorite stories to share with students.
Feel free to comment below.

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Somewhere in the Middle

The pendulum swings in the education every twenty years or so they say.  They, the POLICY MAKERS, tell us, the EDUCATORS, what is the best thing for our students and we comply. Yes, sometimes dragging our heels, spitting nails, or just complain to our colleagues about the changes.

I don't always love change, but I understand it is necessary. I am more than happy to listen and try something new IF I believe it will benefit my students.  However,  I won't throw out what I know works!  Just like the old saying goes, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water!" I believe you need to balance the two extremes for optimal results with your students.


Teachers have debated teaching "letter of the week" for years! One side argues that it is ineffective to teach letters this way as children learn letters that are meaningful to them such as the letters in their names and they won't retain letters taught in a week by week basis.  The other side of the pendulum believes in this systematic approach as they are sure to cover all the letters through thematic teaching incorporating the letter through the majority of activities during the week. 

Truth be told, I am somewhere in the middle! I introduce a new letter each week based on the scope and sequence that my county puts out for our Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program.  I introduce the letter and the sound through Interactive Alphabet Activities. We practice writing it and we even make an alphabet flip book that my pre-kinders read and then take home to practice.  However, every book we read does not begin with that particular letter and I do not make a craft to go along with each letter. Does this make sense?

Teachers are so passionate about this topic.  Process art gives children the freedom to create and express themselves through a variety or art mediums.  The materials are available as children use their imaginations to design their art. Product art consists of teacher led projects where children follow a set of directions or patterns to make a similar product.  

So I am here to ask, what is wrong with a little of both? I give children ample opportunities at the art center daily to create.  Some days it is process driven projects where children need to cut and glue pieces to make a something in particular like a snowman and other days I put out a variety of materials and my pre-kinders are free to create what ever their little hearts desire! Just as children have different learning styles, some children love the process where they can express their creativity while others want direction and want it to look like a particular object when completed.  Its a win-win as children are able to practice lots of fine motor activities such as cutting, tearing, drawing and gluing all while engaging in the art process.

I have been reading the book, Play: The Foundation that Supports the House of Higher Learning by Lisa Murphy and agree with a LOT of what Lisa  has to say. I agree that children in preschool, pre-kindergarten and even kindergarten need ample time to play as they build social skills, language and have time to manipulate their environment.  That being said, I am intentional about the skills and standards I need to teach.  The blending of play and skills needs to be done with hands on, engaging manipulatives, games and activities to create optimal engagement with these little people! In my classroom, we accomplish this through small group activities as well as during center time.  

There are many different ways to structure our programs, but we as the educators need to know what the current research says, meet the children where they are and then incorporate the social and academic skills that will prepare these children for life as well as school! So please, won't you meet me Somewhere in the Middle?
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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Peek into Pre-K {December}

As with all kiddos right now, my pre-kinders are over the top with excitement!
Christmas is right around the corner:)
So we have tried to embrace the craziness and roll with it this month!!

Circle time is where we start our day and come back to through out our day for stories, songs, games and other fun activities.  As one of our pre-k standards, we are working on counting words in a sentence.  Drawing boxes around the words gives students a visual to understand that letters make words and words make sentences.  My little helper of the day gets to lead our morning calendar time.  I love watching their confidence grow during this time.  Our poems and songs build rhythm and rhyme as we work on phonological awareness.  

They are a super collection of original poems and favorite nursery rhymes.
Small group is the time we introduce new concepts, provide practice for prior skills taught and work together in fun, meaningful ways.  We have five rotations consisting of Listening/Library Center, Math, Literacy, Computer and the Independent Learning Table.  The Math and Literacy tables are teacher and para led while the Independent Learning table is usually manipulative based and builds on out literacy and math concepts. Class books, glitter number rubbings, games and poetry notebooks are favorites again and again. 

Alphabet Mats cane be found here  Alphabet Mats are perfect for play dough, 
small manipulatives for fine motor engagement  and letter formation.

Center time provides students the opportunity to choose what they want to do and where they want to go.  It includes the dramatic play area, blocks, the alphabet center, the math center, the science center, the sensory table, the puppet theater, computers and the art center.  Children start this time by verbalizing where they want to start playing.  For example, "I want to go to blocks today." This helps develop language with my students and helps them develop a plan for where to start.  

Thanks for stopping by for a Peek Into Pre-k {December}.
Feel free to follow me on Facebook for daily updates and peeks into our day.

You can pin this image for easy reference and follow me on Pinterest.

Happy December Friends!

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