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overthemoon 10-24-2019 03:34 PM

transitional kindergarten centers
I am wondering how you do your center time. I teach a transitional kindergarten class and have always done 2 centers a day that were a half hour each. The children pick where they want to go and stay there for 30 minutes and then we pick again. It seems the thinking now though is to let the children have more choices about their learning and go from center to center whenever they want. I tried that this year and am having problems. Some pf the children just can't seem to focus for more than a few minutes. They flit from center to center to center and never accomplish anything. Others pick the same center over and over and never go to writing or books. Some of the children are also forming little cliques and move from center to center together and never play with other children. I have one group who will change centers if an "outsider" comes into their center to play. This didn't happen when we chose 2 centers because they didn't always get into the center their friends did and since they were there for 30 minutes, they became involved in what they were doing. I want to do what is best for the children and allow them to choose where they play, but I just feel this isn't working. Does anyone else have a successful way of doing centers?

ICrazyTeach 10-24-2019 05:15 PM

In 20 years I've probably had 20 versions of centers. Well, that's not exactly true, but it all depends on the kids I have that year and what they handle. Try a gradual release. I start out very structured. I tell you where to go, what to do, how long to stay. Gradually they get more control. One person chooses the center for their group, I still tell how long to stay, what to do, and where to go next. On a good year, by halfway through the year I say, "Ok. Time for centers" and they choose where they go, have choice of what to do when there, and move on when they're done. They know they have to get everything at least once by the end of the week. Each release step has to be thoroughly modeled and practiced.
Are these more play centers than academic, though? That I have no experience with. Play is a dirty word around here and has to be disguised.

overthemoon 10-24-2019 05:28 PM

Yes, they are more play based, although we do have a writing center, a math center and a science center. The class is made up of older 4's and young 5's who weren't ready for kindergarten, so some are able to handle free choice better than others.

ElizabethJoy 10-24-2019 08:32 PM

I feel like every year I have to adjust the way I do literacy rotations to fit the needs of my students. This year I have a very capable, independent group that get bored fairly easily, so what works is this:

4 rotations, ten minutes long. Each group completes every activity, every day. They are;

10 minutes guided reading with teacher
10 minutes writing- either independent or with my aide
10 minutes of a literacy game- usually one that works on phonics or sight words
10 minutes fine motor- usually play dough, threading, jigsaw puzzles, or hole punch art.
I have 14 kids, so there are 3-4 kids in each group.

Earlier in the year, we did two fine motor activities instead of writing.

I tried free range (letting kids pick their own activities) for a couple of weeks but for some reason, the noise level went through the roof and I didn't feel the kids were as productive.


Some pf the children just can't seem to focus for more than a few minutes. They flit from center to center to center and never accomplish anything
My guess is it's a maturity thing. Maybe your students, like mine, just aren't ready for that much freedom. I think the freedom to choose their own activities during play is super important, but I'm not sure it's the most developmentally appropriate approach to academics with this age group. At least, that's what I have found with my own class. So for me, play and academic rotations are run quite differently. They have absolute freedom when we play!

Sbkangas5 10-24-2019 08:32 PM

I do a mix of your centers. My students have one center that they go to with their group, and then if they finish early they can go choose from a variety of "may-do" activities. This gives my quick finishers something to do, and my slow pokes plenty of time to finish. I've done other versions of centers over the years, but this is what I usually end up coming back to.

I think it depends on what your goal for your center time is. Are they supposed to be working on social skills? Academics? Do you have something they need to/you want them to complete? Is it time to just explore and play? You say they never accomplish anything - what is it that you want them to accomplish?

I think choices are good because it helps students gain independence and be able to think for themselves. But not if it's to the detriment of what you are trying to teach.

overthemoon 10-27-2019 01:46 PM

Thank you all for your help! I appreciate it.

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