Sunday, September 21, 2014

Learning To Play & Playing To Learn (Part 1)

Part 1 of a 2-day Post:  Learning To Play

I'm super big on "keeping the FUN in the FUNdamentals".  That's why I incorporate play time into my half-day kindergarten day.  Yes, it can be done in a half-day program and you will still be able to get to all of the CCSS.  But first you need to plan out your centers, introduce them slowly, and make sure that everyone understands the rules.  

Here are my best 3 tips for setting up centers:

1.  Centers must link to a skill or a CCSS:
Even a home center can have academic skills embedded in it.  Label the food, dishes, etc.  Expect students to sort and organize the supplies when done, and set up themes like fall foods & supplies for making vegetable soup, or a summer theme with pretend ice cream and supplies for making juice smoothies.  
While at the Home Center, these chefs look for meatballs with matching sight words.
The "pasta" is just a handful of thin rubber bands.
The meatballs are wooden beads, add sight words, and seal with Mod Podge.
Add a checkered tablecloth, a sm. colander, and tongs.  

2.  They must have rules:
I post a number at each center which tells the students the maximum number of students allowed at that center at a time.  I also post a photo of what the center should look like when it is all cleaned up.  I also demonstrate how to use the center and how the small items don't get slipped into pockets or backpacks.  :)  

The number 1 on the scale indicates how many students may use the scale at one time.

3.   Students must have choices:  I start the year with free choice.  If your table work is done and has been checked by an adult, you may choose any center.  Later in the year, I color code the centers and students may choose from a set of colored centers on Monday, and another set of colored centers on Tuesday, etc.  This keeps students from perseverating and choosing the exact same center every day.  

Each child gets to choose a center and they may move about and visit other centers.

Part 2:

Tomorrow, I will introduce you to a variety of centers that are easy to set up and will provide your students with fun educational activities that "keep the FUN in the FUNdamentals".

Let me know if you are still allowed to have great hands-on centers in your classrooms.  :)

Check out my:
FaCeBoOk:  Click Here to see my Facebook. (Tons of FREE ideas.)
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See you all tomorrow.
Palma :)


  1. I love these and did the same thing when I taught half-day K years ago. I would love to have a home center and blocks now, but we don't have blocks, and I don't have room for a home center. I have a very tiny room with 18 students. I do incorporate some kind of word work in my sensory bin, but the students insist on throwing the sand/rice/etc. all over so it is now closed until they can choose to keep it in the bin.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Lee Ann. Maybe parents can donate small blocks or even foam cubes. Kids can build under their desks or on the playground. I had to take some of the Kinetic Sand out of the sand bin for the same reason. Less sand helped them keep more of it in the bin. Good luck! :)