Centers, Kindergarten style

We've finally gotten into the "swing" of centers in Kindergarten.  It's definitely much different teaching Kindergarteners how to do centers than it is first graders!  First graders definitely have some experience with centers, while Kindergarteners do not!  I also gave my firsties a lot more freedom when it came to centers than I do my Kinders, not that it's a bad thing!

So I thought I'd share how I'm running my centers now that I'm back to teaching Kindergarten.

In first grade, I was basically forced to use homogeneous grouping (something I did NOT like), but in Kindergarten, we use heterogeneous grouping.  I arranged my center groups so that I have a high, medium, and struggling student in pretty much every group.  There are 3 kids per each center group, and there are 8 groups of students.  

Our center rotation chart tells the students where they are going.  I dismiss them to their centers, and then I call one of my reading groups to my table to work on reading.  This means that they do miss one of their center activities, but I feel it's more important that students are learning how to read with me than completing some work that they may complete incorrectly anyway.

 In word work, we have been doing a lot of different activities with books and our sight words.  We have made alphabet books, and now we're moving on to different sight word activities, such as sight word books, read/make/write boards, and Roll a Sight Word activities!  The kids love learning these new words and then finding them in the books we read.

Read/Write Around the Room is another activity the kids love!  So far, we've been doing different Write Around the Room themes, such as fall words, Thanksgiving words, etc...  The kids have to write the word and draw a small picture next to it.  If they finish, they can write a sentence on the back of their paper using one of the words.  Soon, we're going to alternate these vocabulary building Read Around the Room activities with sight words around the room.  :-)

In Phonics, we've done a ton of sorting activities.  We've sorted beginning sounds, rhyming words, syllables, even ending sounds.  We've differentiated some of the activities for different students, so some students may be working on rhyming words while others may be working on beginning sounds.   

These two alphabet sorts are from my Alphabet Printable Sorting Sheets available in my TPT store.

We also have two reading centers, since reading is so important!  We have "Read to Self" and "Buddy Reading" in our center rotation.  One important thing we need for these centers are our book boxes!  I buy the magazine holders from IKEA and allow my students to decorate them however they like.   

Inside their book boxes, they get to keep the books they borrow from me, as well as the books they've made in the classroom, and then any books I give them to keep in their book boxes.  We have these little bags to keep our "just right books" in.  These are the books they've made in the classroom and can pretty much read on their own.

We do Read to Self in our book nook.  I like to have lots of different places for the kids to sit down and read. 

We do Buddy Reading on the carpet.  Sometimes we have 2 students in a group, but usually we have 3, so it's usually "group reading" instead of buddy reading.  It usually works out. 

We also have a poetry center!  We put a new poem in our notebook every week!  The poems are all songs or poems we've sang or read in our classroom.  For example, this apple tree poem is something we did as a choral reading activity.  The kids glued it into their notebooks and drew a tree to match each part of the poem.  Then they practice reading their poems to an adult.

The other centers that we do are writing and computers.  Computers are pretty self-explanatory- the students get on Successmaker and complete that program.  For writing, we usually do a response to a book that we read, such as writing about our favorite character or telling what happened at the beginning, middle, and end of a story.

I have not added Listen to Reading (mostly because I'm lazy!), but someday, I plan on adding it as well.  I just really need to take the time to get all my CDs uploaded to iTunes and then have them synced to the iPods.  We may add that one after Christmas!

I hope you enjoyed this little peek into my classroom!

Christmas Questionnaire Linky Party 2014

I decided to link up with Fabulous in First for her Christmas Questionnaire Linky Party!

1.  When do you decorate?
I usually decorate the week after Thanksgiving.  I usually refuse to decorate before Thanksgiving.  I broke my own rule this year and put up one of my trees before Thanksgiving because I knew I was having surgery in December and wanted to be sure I had enough time to get it all done!

This is my "big" Christmas tree and some ornaments I've made for it. 

 My mantel, front door, and side table in the living room.

Lots and lots of trees!  I love trees!

Decorations in the Dining Room.  

I tried putting lights on the tree outside.  Short people shouldn't put lights on trees. :-)

2.  Elf or no elf?
I don't have any children, and the dog doesn't care, so I just have an elf in my classroom.  Her name is Twinkle Snowflake, and I wrote about our adventures with her last year here and here.

This year was eventful for poor Twinkle!  One of my students decided to beat the pulp out of poor Twinkle Snowflake and she was pretty battered!

3.  Christmas Cookies or no baking for you?
My mom does tons of Christmas baking, so I usually don't do much.  In the past, I have made Peppermint Bark and Chocolate Covered Pretzels.  This year, I didn't do anything since I had surgery this month.

4. Favorite Holiday Tradition?
Staying home!  When I was a kid, we used to get up, eat breakfast, open gifts, and pack up and leave to sit in the car for 4 hours to go to my Grandparents.  It was horrible.  While I don't wake up in my own house, at least I don't have to sit in the car for 4 hours anymore!

I also like to make something for my home each year.  New ornaments, a decoration, something pretty and festive!  These are some things I've made in the last few years.

5. Favorite Christmas Movie?
I guess that would have to be The Grinch Who Stole Christmas!  :-)  We also have to watch Scrooged every year, because my dad loves it.

6.  Snow or no snow?
I hate snow, so I'll go with no snow!

7.  Favorite Christmas song?
I am so not a fan of Christmas music.  I am one of those people who hates hearing Christmas music before Thanksgiving!  I will only listen to it willingly if I am at work making Christmas crafts with the kids!  We do listen to The Trans-Siberian Orchestra CD on Christmas, and I don't mind that.  I'm just a bit of a Grinch when it comes to Christmas music!

8.  Favorite Gifts to Give and Get?
I like to give handmade gifts or gifts purchased from local shops or artists.  I got a few gifts that I'm giving to family this way!  I also like to find great gifts for people.  Sometimes I do a great job, and sometimes I don't!  I am making a wreath for my mom (once my wrist heals!), and I found a cute handmade hat for my sister. Shhhhh!!!!

These are some gifts I made for my coworkers this year.  I filled the mugs with homemade hot chocolate.  Some are regular, and some are peppermint.  Yum!

For Christmas, I wanted one of these. :-)  I know I won't get one, but I still asked Santa anyway!

I also asked for socks and a green sweater, which I got from my fabulous assistant!  She's a mind reader, I swear!

I want this for my dog Molly.  It was on tv earlier.  Isn't it cute?  :-)

Don't forget to go link up!