Sunday, January 12, 2014

3rd Round of Kindergarten & First Grade Centers

By now, my kindergarteners and first graders are old pros at library centers.  Despite the increasing complexity of what they're doing, when I stop by their centers to give them brief instructions, I usually get comments like "We already know what to do!" and "Don't worry, we've got this!".  I've kept some of the activities fairly consistent, and have tried to add in a few new activities, especially in the Computer and Words center to mix things up for them.

As with previous rounds of centers, students rotate through a series of six centers, completing a different center each week with their assigned group.  This way I know that they have likely had a chance to practice the skills at each of the centers in the six week rotation.  Each of the centers connect to Common Core Standards or AASL standards in some way, but up until this point, I haven't consistently identified "I can" statements for the centers, in the future my goal is to make sure I put "I can" statements on each of the center direction sets.

Library time, for first grade and full day kindergarten classes, is 45 minutes with about 25 minutes being dedicated towards a lesson and 20 minutes for centers and checkout.  As part of the lesson, students are often given some sort of practice to complete.  Students complete the practice before moving on to the center work. With practice and time the transition from the lesson to the center work has really has become quite seamless, and students understand that the expectation is that they finish their lesson practice before they have release time to do the center work.  

While the center work, by design, is good practice, if kids don't finish, they understand that it's ok; the work they are doing in the center is more for enrichment and fun. 

Kindergarten Centers 

  • Computer - Kindergarten students are still really learning how to log into the computer.  Kids are practicing logging on and clicking on our Destiny link, which is on the desktops.  I created a Symbaloo, which I embedded on our Destiny home page, and students can choose a link from the bottom left hand corner. The kindergarten favorite is the Junie B. Jones link.  
  • Explore - Students can choose from a variety of winter themed books from a reserve crate to explore.  The crate includes picture books, poetry, drawing books, and an assortment of nonfiction.
  • Read - In this center, students have the opportunity to look at the books they checked out or choose a magazine from our collection to explore.  Favorite magazines are Ranger Rick, American Girl and Looney Tunes.
  • Retell - Students use small stuffed animals to retell the story that we read together for our lesson.
  • Words - I got this idea from Kathy Mansfield who shared the idea with me on my first blog post about centers and the kids love this center.  For Words this month, I bought some cheap flashlights from the dollar store and students use them with a Big Book.  When they see a word that they know from their sight words list, they shine their light on it and then write the word on a white board.  They are excited each week at the number of words that they know.  Check out the center directions.
Words - Big Books & Flashlights
  • Writing for writing this time around, kids are being asked to choose their favorite season and write it down.  I've been trying to encourage them to write more than one word about their season, and they also draw a picture. Be sure to check out the center directions.  Students use a Seasons word wall with pictures and words to help.

First Grade Centers

  • Computers - For computers in this round, I'm getting a little more directed with students and requiring them to practice shelving books using Mrs. Lodge's Library Shelve It game. In their center folders, I gave them directions that include picture steps of what they should click on.  I was a little worried the kids would have trouble figuring out the directions, which are with the center directions, but they have consistently figured things out with very little direction from me.
  • Explore - as with kindergarten, first graders are also exploring a variety of books with a winter theme.
  • Read- First graders also have the chance to read choice materials independently.  They have a choice between reading the book they check out or a magazine, and at times they will ask if they can read with a partner, and this ha been working out well too.
  • Retell - Students are retelling, with small stuffed animals, the story that they hear with the lesson.
  • Words - For the Words center, first graders are using the magnet words that the second graders are using with their centers. The center is based on the Boggle Words center found in the Library Centers Starter Kit by [Jessica Lodge], [Carolyn Vibbert] and [Carrie Young]. For this center, the directions are simplified so that they don't have to keep track of points, but they are having a lot of fun working with the dollar store cookie sheets and letter magnets. 
  • Writing- Similar to kindergarteners, first graders are using word walls to write winter themed stories.  The writing center is really starting to pick up for the first graders and they are writing stories that are multiple pages with dialogue and real problems.  At times they've even collaborated with each other on stories. I've been very impressed with their work, and often at the end of class, the kids are begging to share their stories with their class.
Writing & Word Walls
If you're using centers, what centers are the most loved in your library?  As I start planning for our next round, are there any that I should work into my rotation?

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