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Procedures for Kindergarten Centers

Tips to keep learning centers running smoothly ...

Teachers have many great procedures for kindergarten centers that keep them running efficiently and smoothly.

Well thought out centers tend to manage themselves and also offer opportunities for children to work at specific skills.

Children also have practice making choices and taking responsibility for their actions.

Having children participate in learning centers gives them time to learn to play together. Problems will occur, but they create opportunities for teaching correct social behavior.

As kids see that fairness, sharing, and inclusion is practiced in the classroom and that the classroom is a safe environment, these behaviors fall away.

Need a system? This one has been tried and tested..

kindergarten centers
  • Hang or post a large, colorful, laminated, labeled shape above each kindergarten centers.
  • Call the learning center by the name of the color and shape to help children remember terms such as square, circle, triangle, diamond, rhombus, etc., as well as to help them learn color vocabulary. E.g. Who would like to play at the red triangle center today?”
  • Put the names of the children, one name to a pocket, in a tall, thin pocket chart. Each scheduling pocket chart has 14 pockets so you may need two depending on your classroom size. I also used a wide pocket chart and placed the children's names in rows along the bottom and used the top part for other teaching activities.
  • Create mini laminated identical shapes to the ones above and display the shapes in the bottom pockets of the pocket chart.
  • And very important - Limit the number of shapes available to the number of children you want to have in each center.

kindergarten centersWhen kindergarten center time begins:

  • At the beginning of center time, each child chooses a shape and places it beside his/her name tag and then goes to the correlating center to work.
  • The important rule is that no one is allowed to take a shape from another child’s name, only from the bottom group of shapes. E.g. I only allowed three children at a time in the “Yellow pentagon center” so only 3 yellow pentagons were available.
  • If the same group of children chooses the same shapes daily, I remove most of that shape and put them out 10 minutes later, so different children get a chance to use them.
  • Problems do occur! Some children have been known to hide center markers, choose all the center shapes of the same color and put them in the names of the children they want to play with or put them in their pockets so that they will always be able to play where they want. They soon learn to play fairly with their friends.

Other tips...

  • Children are free to move from center to center, as long as they tidy up their areas first, and then change the shape tag in front of their name.
  • Begin training the children to use kindergarten center procedures during the first week of September and teach them over and over until the children understand the procedures.
  • Most children pick up on the system quickly and enjoy the independence of choosing where they want to go and the experience of putting the shape in their name.
  • When children forget to put the shape markers in, walk them over to the chart and help them choose.
  • If you keep one group working with an adult at the tables, vary the groups constantly so different kids have opportunities to play together.

Emphasize Literacy in Centers

label centersAlways think about – “How can I include numbers and words in each center?” Here are a few ideas.

  • Label all buckets and containers for holding materials with a large font and illustration. Use packing tape if you want easy removal. Masking tape looks ugly and leaves bits on the plastic bins.
  • Put books in every center. I put books about buildings and roads in the block center and made street signs for the children to play with.
  • As the children use the center pocket chart over and over they begin to learn the letters of their friends' names and then to read them.
  • Rotate posters in all centers according to science and social studies themes.
  • Collect envelopes paper, pencils, felts, erasers and other writing materials to put in the centers.
  • The children like cutting up old educational product catalogues and making booklets out of them. Encourage the children to label each picture even if they can only hear one or two letter sounds. See "Kindergarten Writing" for more detail.
  • Change the pretend area regularly. I have had it become a post-office, a travel agency, a pet store, a gingerbread house, the three bears' house, a grocery store and more over the years.
  • Add well-known empty, clean cereal and food packaging to the above center depending on its current use. The children will trace the letters and copy words and numbers.
  • Put number words, numerals and charts, counting books, and recording booklets in the math manipulative center.

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