Small Group Instruction is by far my favorite time of the day in pre-k! It is time to teach specific language arts and math skills in a fun, play based way to engage my littles. We have 4 rotations that last 12 minutes each for our classes. I have 19 students in my morning session and 12 in the afternoon. I have names and post its on the board to help my para professional and I keep track of the kids and where they belong. I know I want it to look much cuter... So please do not throw rotten tomatoes... **This has been on my list of things to do all year.**
My sweet para, Becky, and I rotate daily between Literacy and Math. Let's just say that Becky is my right arm in the classroom and I am truly blessed! In between the literacy and math centers are the library/listening center and the computer center.
We have tried to incorporate all things reading in the library area. Read-a-loud books that I have shared over the course of the weeks are left on the front ledge and on the easel.
Large poems from our poetry notebook are available to read with pointers. The listening center changes every other day as this gives all the children in the group a chance to hear the story.
Alphabet puzzles are put out occasionally for a quick review of alphabet letters and sounds as well as Alphabet Flip Books. Our library is stocked with board books of our favorite predictable stories like Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and The Napping House.
Our math group is one of our four rotations that is guided my Becky or I. We have a scope and sequence of skills that need to be taught during each quarter of school. We work on number recognition, counting, measurement, ordinal numbers and patterns.
We use LOTS of hands on manipulatives, play dough and games galore. The CRASH game is part of our Farm Unit and a favorite for sure!
What's Under the Cup is another fun game we play in the classroom.The teacher hides the bear under one of the cups. We were practicing ordinal numbers so the students had to use an ordinal number when guessing which cup the bear was under. You can put any skill on the outside of the cup- shapes, letters, numbers...the sky is the limit!
We are lucky enough to be able to use computers as a rotation in out room. I have 3 student
computers, 1 computer attached to my Smart Board and on teacher computer on my desk. We use all 5 during morning small group time. We started the year with Starfall and the letters taught to date were on the top of the computer for easy reference.
I later learned that teachers can get a free membership on ABC Mouse. We tried it during small group time, but the students often wandered off into the land of ABC Mouse so we now save this for Center Time later in the day.
In January, our school asked us if we would pilot a computer program called Imagine Learning. So now each student is working on his/her own levelin phonological awareness and phonics.
Small Group Literacy is a blend of phonological awareness, phonics and writing. We practice building letters and words with play dough to work on fine motor development. The lock and key matching game is from Lakeshore Learning.
The Interactive Alphabet Activities cards are used over and over in so many ways.I added magnets to the back of the small cards to match to the large alphabet letter. The larger picture cards are used as we build our circle maps, in counting syllables and also in the salt trays to practice letter formation.
We also started writing journals in January. Some students are working on verbally forming sentences, while others are labeling pictures and then yes, a few are using sound spelling to stretch out words by sounding them out.
The key to making small group time work is to keep the rotation time short (10-15 minutes) while keeling children engaged in hands on activities. The activity can can stay the same while just changing the novelty with manipulatives and work mats. Be sure to model procedures and expectations. Children love this time of the day and don't even know they are learning!