Sunday, March 27, 2016

How To Fit "PLAY" Into Your Day!

I am often asked how we can incorporate playtime into our busy, academic day. I did it through academic centers. 

Each center had academic skills that were embedded in the activities. 
For example: The train tracks had sight words on them and everything in the home center was labeled.

First, let's look at a common full-day kindergarten schedule:

Next, add centers around your classroom. 
Post the maximum number of students allowed at each center. 
Here are some of my centers:

Click the image to grab Boomer's Take-Home Book.

My "Sentence Writing Center" includes pictures of nouns (on pink cards), verbs (on green cards), and more nouns (on blue cards) for the predicate. Students chose 1 card of each color to create their sentence. 
Additional "helping words" were provided to help students complete their sentences. 

This center was a favorite! I introduced it as a center after we created a few sentences together in a small group setting. You can grab all of the pieces needed plus the writing page template by clicking HERE

Last, change the centers slightly throughout the year. 
For example: 
~Change the store to a seasonal shop like a candy shop* in Feb. or a flower shop in May.
~Change the items at the Discovery Center with seasonal objects found in nature such as leaves, acorns, a bird nest, etc. 
~Change the paints at the painting center to all secondary colors (green, purple, and orange) and put up a sign that says "We are using secondary colors this week."

*You can grab my FREE candy templates by clicking HERE.

Here is a list of my classroom centers:
Start with the centers you already have in place and add centers as you can. 

I hope this helps keep "play" in your kindergarten day!


  1. Our state has mandated an hour of self-directed play. I don't put academic expectations on the play centers. They collaborate, learn to solve small conflict, plan and execute ideas..I think there's a difference between learning expectations embedded in play, and self-directed play where the children build the outcome.

    1. Yes, I agree. You are lucky to work in a state that has mandated true play opportunities for children. As I travel throughout the country and meet teachers, they often tell me that they aren't allowed to have their students play during class time or that their actual play time is extremely limited. Hopefully their students can experience collaborating and problem solving experiences in a print-rich classroom. I'm so happy to hear about your forward-thinking state. It looks as though the pendulum is swinging back to play. :)