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annie ann's Message:

I do the same exact thing With FRiday Fun..

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Discussion Review (newest messages first)
Jenny 03-03-2007 12:36 PM

I do have a time in my classroom that I call developmental (it is a loca term that we use in junior classrooms). This is time for the children to explore puppets, paint, crayons, blocks, beads and all sorts of things like that. I believe it is necessary for the particular children that I have as they have almost no experiences with these sorts of things before they come to school.Things such as scissor skills, colouring skills and even imagination are not developed without practice/use. I do let the children choose what they do in this time, and it works really well. Very few children stay in the same place the whole time. I just gently prompt the kid who has been at blocks the whole time to move to something different, and they do. I include a lot of fine motor skill activities in this time because this will help with other areas, especially handwriting. While the children are engaged in their developmental I am able to take small groups for extra teacher time. The key part for me is that I can justify to parents or senior teachers if they walk into my room why my kids are playing with blocks or puppets. I have never had anyone object to my reasoning, and have the full support of senior staff and resource staff. Unfortunately it is just a fact of life for me that when my kids come to school they have not had the kinds of experiences that will give them the basic skills that they need to move on. If they can't use scissors by the time they leave my room at the age of 7 then the next teacher is going to wonder what has struck her!

In answer to the words 'free time' I have to say that children need to learn to make choices, but if you look around my classroom you would be struggling to find an activity that does not have some purpose for beng there. even the 'fun' things that they kids think they are doing to get out of work actually have a purpose!

K/1 Teacher 03-03-2007 11:45 AM

In response to simpsongirl's questions:

I expect my children to choose the snack center- that's the only time and place they can have snack during the day. But other than that, they tend to go through phases. A few children may spend every day at the art center for a month or two, and then they switch to dramatic play and get really into that, then switch to another one. Other kids will change every day, it just depends on the kids. They can choose any center they want and can switch centers as long as they clean up first. Each year I find that the popularity of the centers changes. Last year my class loved playing board games, this year they are way more into art. Last year's really liked blocks, this year's not so much.

As for finding the time, first of all my school values choice time and encourages it, so it's not seen as something that cuts out time from academic areas. Second, since I don't do whole class snack time when that's a center, that's 15 minutes saved from the day. I also don't do every subject every day. I do reading, writing, math each about 4 times a week. I do science/ss twice a week. Handwriting once a week. Like I stated above, work centers are a priority and are seen as a valuable learning opportunity. I make time for them, even though I sometimes feel the crunch for other things, I see the value that centers provides for the kids.

simpsongirl 03-01-2007 01:51 AM

Do you find that your children always choose the snack/dramatic play/puzzles, etc., centers first? Are these centers on rotation?
How do you find time to have 45-50 minutes of centers time EVERYDAY? Usually, we only have about 1 and 1/2 hours to fit all of the Language Arts components in. =(

K/1 Teacher 02-28-2007 05:04 PM

I teach K/1 multiage and I do "work centers" every day for 45 - 50 minutes. Their choices during this time are: art and writing center, games, puzzles, blocks, legos, math center, dramatic play, computers, reading, and snack center. First graders are still young - at least mine are...they're just now starting to turn 7. They need time to play. Play time allows them not only a chance to burn some energy, but also a chance to be creative, navigate through social situations, make independent choices, develop personal interests, organize their thoughts, ideas, and time, and have fun! I am a big advocate for finding time every day to allow the students this creative sort of play time. It helps them be much more productive the rest of the day AND they look forward to it, it's their favorite time of the day and it gives them something to look forward to!

FYI: At my school all grade levels have choice time. The second through fifth grade classes don't have it every day, but most have it 2-3 days a week for 20-30 minutes. Kids are never too old to have time to play!

BookMuncher 02-28-2007 03:08 PM

Reader's Workshop is the name of a larger structure; guided reading can take place during RW. Reader's Workshop, though, is a time for all children to be reading books of their choosing that are on their level for an extended period of time. During this time, I confer with children individually, as well as run guided reading groups. But, unlike when you are using Guiding reading as your main reading vehicle, you don't need to run so many groups per day, b/c very often, the conferences are much more meaningful than instructing the child in a small group could ever be.

BookMuncher 02-28-2007 03:02 PM

I start the year out alternating between FYOE reading and FYOE writing (for your own enjoyment). From there, I start to merge them so that they can do either one. The beginning of the year is a little more structured-- we have lists of what you can read and what you can write, and we add on to them a little at a time. As the two start to merge, I encourgae children to take on projects-- start a Titanic book club, for example. Or make signs for our library, or study a book together to solve a "mystery." It is now a very open time where kids create and read and write.

PS: I steal time from social studies or science.

momfirst 02-28-2007 04:20 AM

I love ther terms "constructive" center time, "Open Centers" and Choice Activity Time (CAT). I am wondering if these titles could be incorporated into a 20-30 minute period each day in which the child makes a plan of what they will do and has their "plan" approved by the teacher. The teacher and stduents could make a list each week of ideas that would relate to current areas of study and document their choices and activities in a notebook. For example if spiders are being studied, students may create a spider in the "creation station" labeling and showing all parts of a spider, or they may read and make a book of spider facts with a partner, etc. What do you think?? Maybe this could be incorporated twice a week instead of every day if time is an issue (and it always is! haha).
Your thoughts??

simpsongirl 02-28-2007 02:59 AM

I give my 1st graders "constructive" free-time.
I haven't mastered the art of putting together elaborate centers.
So, when a student finishes his/her work, that student
can enjoy a book in our cozy classroom library. At times,
I do have magnet letters out for them to practice Spelling words.
If I have a matching game prepared, for example, early finishers
can also work with that. Usually, Tuesday and Friday afternoons--the last period after Math time--are spent playing various Math games...provided
work is finished.
So far, this method has worked well for us. I would LOVE for my
kids to have more "free center/creation/play time." However,
with 2 Mandatory special classes a day, there is hardly any extra time
leftover for fun and play. =(

annie ann 02-27-2007 05:05 PM

I do the same exact thing With FRiday Fun..

TonyaS 02-27-2007 03:51 PM

I like the idea of open centres--I have that book I think I will go back and reread it. My question: reading workshop - how is it different then guided reading? I mean do you never do guided reading??

msharkey 02-27-2007 03:47 PM

Throughout the week my students earn a Fun Friday time every Friday afternoon. We have "Recess Points". In order to earn Fun Friday, they must earn 15 recess points (which are tally points) before Friday at lunch. to earn recess points, they get caught doing something good. It is a collaborative effort - all for one and one for all. Either they all earn it or not earn it. they gain recess points for getting compliments, being quiet walkers in the halls, etc...

The clinch is that any work they have not finished during the week is collected and will be done during Fun Friday time to make up.

Fun Friday is about 20 minutes long and they can play or do anything they want in the room. Interesting enough, most like to play the internet games on the computer or use the blocks, bricks, or legos.

I find that although I give them a lot of fun activities during the week, this is their time to really relax, chill out, and socialize with their friends. Everyone needs that. Just putting in my two cents.


MalibuBarbie 02-27-2007 03:08 PM

I've been teaching first grade for 7 years now. Before that, I was in kindergarten. I just couldn't give up my dress up clothes and big floor puzzles! And I'm so glad I haven't. Like Amy posted, we play Friday afternoons. We call it Friday Fun. If it's nice out, we take the kids out on the playground otherwise, we play in the classroom. The kids make an incredible mess getting everything out but every year, I'm AMAZED at how great they clean up!

Finding the time, of course, for more play time is terribly hard--they keep giving us more and more and MORE curriculum to fit in. However, I'm joining the ranks with Reader's Workshop. It takes less time than Guided Reading and centers...esp. when you have five reading groups! Teaming RW with something Richard Allington wrote in "Classrooms that Work", I'm giving the kids about 20 or 30 minutes (most days) of "open centers"...basically PLAY TIME but open centers sounds better to observers. His rationale, which I have got to agree with, is if you find time for the kids to just play, you will be able to get better quality work out of them in the long run.

The half hour gives me time to pull kids that may have been absent and need to finish something or do a quick reading assessment or practice a skill with a small group...or play Go Fish with the kids or let them serve me pizza and a coke in their restaraunt!

Try working them hard all morning and give them the last half hour before lunch. THEY DESERVE IT!


Ilvtching 02-27-2007 02:28 PM

I just don't have the time with everything else I have to do!

I give them the last 30-40 minutes of the day on Friday (if we don't have something else we HAVE to do) to read with a friend or draw. Sometimes I pull out the inside recess bin and let them play games and do puzzles as well.

Let's face it, by then I need a break too!


cindyjink 02-27-2007 01:42 PM

My students always have the possibility of free time whenever they finish morning work, handwriting or certain seatwork. This is usually a variety of center type options. They can play certain games together (this is an amazingly hard skill for 1st graders!), read the room, computer games I set up, partner read, math games, pocket chart centers, art (usually related to our Science or Social Studies Unit - currently they can make Mayan Heiroglyphics)etc...I love this time, I can usually sneak in a conference or two with some strugglers.

leslieb 02-27-2007 12:15 PM

I am just wondering if anyone gives their first grade students free center/creation/play time each day? I think students need time to be creative and make choices and create and play even in first grade but it seems with all we have to fit in it may be impossible. I am wondering how one could have a time such as this while setting some types of parameters and guidelines in which WHAT the students DO has to have a connection to learning. Any thoughts and ideas??

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