Hi Lori and Michele,
These are some of the things in my centers. Not all items are used ever day. I put some of my centers on those science fair project boards because I can just fold them down and use from year to year. Some of the boards I cut in half and other leave full sized. I also can change students’ desks into a center at a moments notice and it is a lot easier than changing bulletin boards constantly. I put a border just like you do on a bulletin board and also letters/sign to designate what that center is. On some of the boards I put velcro so I can easily attach and detach different activities to be done.
We practiced center rules and expectations for about 2 weeks before the real deal, but then we still revisit whenever a new item/concept is put in the center or students are misusing a center.
Michele, I do not see why you couldn’t do these with ¾ split. I had a split class last year and it worked great. In the past, centers were thought to be only for lower el, but upper el students really enjoy them. I think with older students centers run smoother and need less assistance. It also provides them with more independence and responsibility for their own learning. In my school we have a 3 and a half hour language arts block. So centers work out really good for me since the whole morning is dedicated to reading/writing and language. Students have specific must do’s before they can choose a center activity. So usually students are in centers for approximately 45 minutes to an hour daily. Sometimes on Friday I will open centers toward the end of the day if all weekly work is completed or students haven’t finished a specific center project. I pull reading groups for no more than 15-20 minutes at a time. I try to keep my lessons short and sharp. Mini-type lessons. I do not meet with every reading group every day. Although with my strugglers, I meet every day. I also do individualized spelling and writing conferences in the language arts block time as well. I also rove around the classroom between lessons and conferences. I use workbook pages but I carefully choose ones I think are beneficial and pages students will be able to do independently. I save the harder ones for small group time.
Here are some of the things I have in my centers. I incorporate the curriculum, themes or units of study into my center activities. I hope this helps.
A lamp, pillows and bean bag chairs, pocket chart, Big books, thin books, flannel board, Read the room, pointers for reading, poetry box and posters, puzzles, book boxes, book baskets by genre, theme baskets, Look and Learn, Walk on books, and Student published books.
Stationary supplies, mini white boards, mini chalkboards, computer, stamps and stamp pads, stamps, writing letters, personal word banks, self –selected writing, journal jar, making books, many types of writing utensils to publish with, visors with each writing process and posters of 6+1 writing traits. Other resources are dictionaries, thesaurus, synonyms, rhyming books, and different papers for writing and publishing.
Books on tape, poems on tape, songs on tape, follow the direction tapes, theme related tapes and our reading series stories on tapes. I also have individual cassette players (no radio) in a bag (gift type bag) with a book so students can take to their seat and listen to. I usually limit the bags to theme or unit of study.
I have color-coded boxes (5 which I change each week) with letters and a worksheet for students to write down as many words from those letters as possible and then to find the secret word that uses all the letters.
I have a large tabletop magnetic board with magnetic letters and words that are color coded by noun, verb, adjectives, common words and theme words.
Riddles, homonyms, synonyms, antonyms, idioms, ABC books, class word jar, games, word searches, dictionaries, Look and Learn board, theme related word studies, thinkers, bingo games, puzzles, file folder games and vocabulary.
Crayons, felt tip pens, mini chalkboards, mini white boards, colored pencils, gel pens, salt trays, letter stamps, wikki sticks, lima bean letters, magna doodle boards, rainbow words, chain your words, make a concentration game, find your words in the newspaper, practice with a partner, fold down spelling and tile letters.
Poetry books, pocket chart, match and learn poetry, desktop poetry pocket chart with sentence strips, cut apart poetry and poetry folders.
Matching, sequence, find the missing word(s), questions, theme charts, sentences, and things to solidify concepts being taught.
Specific concept, science, thinking process skills, observation activities with questions, building and investigations, legos, blocks, or any item where kids can see similarities, differences, concepts, uniqueness, problem solving and critical thinking.
Road to Research, computer, books, maps and atlases, theme related studies, and student interests.
Meet the Author
Choose an author, put that authors books in the center at least 5 or 6 and questions about the book, the genre, literary elements, comprehension etc... and then have students make a book about the author, likes/dislikes, favorite parts, choice of words, the 5W questions.
Tile a while, Just the Facts! Pattern blocks, clocks, measuring mania, geoboards, Cuisenaire rods, problem solving, games and puzzles, graphing, estimation jar, Look and Learn, story problem cards, thinkers, calculators, computer, beans, Quizmo, bingo, unifix cubes, flash cards, tangrams, fraction action, play money, grocery store, restaurant, post office, etc. Depends on concepts being taught and what needs to be practiced.
Maps, globes, puzzles, books, games, and theme related displays.
Collections, shells, rocks, insects, leaves, pets, aquarium, worm farm, hermit crab, plants, magnifying glass, sensory table, microscope, sorting, books, theme related items and curriculum being studied.