Managing Math and Literacy Centers

Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Well, it's the third week of school and we are just now starting afternoon rotations.  Each afternoon the kids rotate through 4 areas; they spend 15 minutes with me, 15 minutes with a parent, 15 minutes at a center, and 15 minutes working independently at their desk.  The groups are small (6 kids) and the kids rotate with their group.  

My little Kinders are wiped out in the afternoons.  We spend our mornings on math, reading and writing and after lunch my 5 and 6 year olds need a lot of movement and a lot of fun. That is why I do rotations. The parent will usually do an art, science, or math activity while I will work with the kids on writing, math or literature.  Having parents in helping really allows me to do those messy projects that require small groups of kids. (Thank you parents for taking on the mess!)  I, on the other hand, can do some RTI and reteaching or I can introduce new content to the small groups.

The key to having successful and productive afternoon rotations are the center activities.  Yes, that's right, the centers are the key!  The kids need to work quietly and independently at their center.

letter identification

Making sure that centers run properly and that kids stay on task takes two things- engaging activities and training.  Here I set up an I SPY Letters center where I trained the kids on the expectations of the center.  We did it in a group of 6 but the next time they see it, it will be an individual center activity.  

I often introduce a brand new center in different ways.  Some centers are so intuitive that they just take a quick intro and the kids are off and running.  Other centers need more practice before the kids are ready to work on them independently.  The I SPY sheets are very intuitive, but I wanted to stress how we take care of the markers, how we clean up when the "clean up signal" rings, etc.  It was more about the procedures than the activity- it is the 3rd week of school after all.  Later in the year when I put in the Word Family I SPY sheets the kids don't need to be trained.  

I set my literacy and math centers up so that the kids can choose which activity they want to work on during their center time.  This helps them stay engaged and on task.  I have differentiated activities so kids can choose to challenge themselves or just have fun and gain confidence doing something that comes easily to them.  It has been my experience that kids don't choose activities that will bore them by being too easy.

I also include a developmental rotation each week, so the kids can have the time "playing" that we all know is so very valuable and necessary.  I have blocks, legos, puzzles, a doll house, a housekeeping center, Zoobs, Wedgits, Lincoln Logs, lacing, felt boards, and other fun and developmentally appropriate activities.  

Our afternoons are action packed and filled with fun.  We get so many different things done during our afternoon rotations- all thanks to our center activities (and our wonderful parent volunteers).

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