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Find out your schedule as soon as you can. Kids thrive on regularity. If there is a day where you don't have a "special" music, art, etc. That can be your time period for centers. Or you can use centers to start out the mornings as the children come in. If you know approximately how many students you will have you can go ahead and make a center schedule based on how many "teams" you will have.
One thing that my students really enjoyed was working with ratios and probability. Colored plastic tiles or discs, colored spinners, and dice will come in handy.
Also, all those measurement items: cups, gallons, liters, inches, centimeters. My students did not have a lot of experience measuring anything. This would make a great math center to leave out BEFORE you start with measurement.
Also -- Great for math are the individual dry erase boards or chalk boards. You can make them yourself if you are resourceful.
Individual calculators are great too. I picked up some at Wal-Mart for $1 each. The Net has some great calculator games.
Mulitiplication and division flash cards are great for playing a round of "Around the World"
I played a lot of music while students were doing practice work -- Mozart, Enya, contemporary jazz. (It helped disguise the drone of computers and air vents.)
As for trade books, I hit the garage sales and put the word out that I needed some. Students and family brought me about 200 books. I purchased about 75 and the rest through PTO and room money.
If you have computers, all ranges of Math Blaster and Reader Rabbit programs will be great for Computer Centers. You can find sometimes find older versions of these pretty cheap. You could also have a one computer for typing, and one for internet/research.
I created a "writing center" by writing all sorts of story ideas on blank cards and putting them in a box for students to pull out.
I also purchased this a book, 365 Simple Science experiments (these use household items).
I also used sentence strips to make signs, number lines, time lines, (some need extra help in math concepts) jobs for pocket charts, etc.
Old magazines for art projects.
Puzzle books -- for enrichment. I always had about 4 or 5 kids who finished before anybody else. I also made word searches at puzzlemaker.com with my spelling words.
Also, for social studies, my students had no concept of "time" Get some tapes or those American Girl books that will help the students develop their concept of history and time.
Also maps! I did not have classroom maps. If expense is a problem - color copy maps onto transparencies. It was difficult for my kids to differentiate between country and continent.
We do not show videos a lot. However, they are good for a reward or celebration. My students really seemed to enjoy the live action videos rather than the cartoon kind. At my local video store, they rent free to teachers. My students' enjoyed Mogli's story, Encycolpedia Brown, From the Mixed of Files of Mrs. (whatever, always forget that name.) and lots of the historic movies. They did not like the older Disney movies that much. But, you will need to preview them.
Also, some sort of "attention" getting device, like a small chime or rain stick that tells everyone to stop and listen is great also.
Whew! I hope this helps! I didn't check for spelling errors so please forgive me.
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