My students returned to school and they had one thing in mind… interacting with their peers! Although I wish this was possible as it was when they left school in March, it is not. We were able to start our face to face school year with some play.
You can read all about our no contact center here.
My students LOVE the ability to play, even if they can’t play with each other. I don’t keep them from talking to each other, I actually encourage it. I want them to love each other and interact as much as they possible can. First, My students had to learn how to use this method to play… then we can stretch this a little bit to learning.
What are Skill Centers?
Skill centers are activities students engage in to review skills they have already been taught and practice the skills. This is so important for Kindergartners because they need to practice their skills so they don’t loose their skills.
Right now, skills are critical. We need to be working with what we know so we can build on the missing gap. I knew last week that we needed to be playing BUT we also need to be skill building. Let’s merge playing and learning.
I had a great system for centers that I have used for years and that I loved. My students LOVED it as well.
You can read all about my tried and true system here.
Essentially, 4 students could go to one color coded table to do a specific skill building activity. Once done, they would get check off by the teacher. Each week, they would have 6 work centers to complete.
Don’t Reinvent The Wheel, Just Make a Few Changes
Let’s be honest. This year has been an exhausting start of the year of trying to reinvent the wheel and I just didn’t want to redo something else. I wanted to take the same structure, same format, BUT make it no contact. Why? Because I don’t want to have to tweek and perfect things so they work. I would rather take a structure that works and tweek it to make it no contact.
Label the Bins
First, I used the same center topics I used before. I have 6 work centers; math, writing, phonics, reading, social studies, and science. Working with the core subjects is a great way to balance out students and keep them engaged.
You can grab my no contact center bin labels here. They are in the same pack as the PLAY center labels, all for the same cost.
Next, I have to get bins to the students individually. Each center I used before could hold 4 people, just at one table. Now, it has four separate bins per subject that students take to their individual tables or desks.
I did this because I would typically have enough materials for four students and this would not cause me more work. (Anyone else simply treading water… because I sure am!!!)
I wish I had color coded boxes, but I went for $1 bins from Dollar Tree so I got what I got. I labeled the outside of the bins to make sure my students knew what they were getting.
How to Check Centers
Next, I had to figure out a way to make sure students go to the variety of activities I have selected for them. I usually have cross off sheets inside the center baskets, but this doesn’t work for individual bins.
Instead, I made a table to check students off. All my students names are on the left side, then the color coded columns stand for each center. Once laminated, I can easily check off students using a visa via marker.
Allowing students to make self selected choices is not only a behavioral standard in Kindergarten, but it is also something I am passionate about. Giving students the ability to to choose what they work on required a little rethinking as well.
Instead of students putting clips on them to signify what center they are on, I wrote my students’ names on clips for them only. The students place the clip onto the circle for the center they are working on.
How Skills Centers Work
The choice board for centers match the bins they grab. Pictures match pictures. So far, my students are doing WONDERFUL at placing their clip on the circle and grabbing the skill center that matches. When each student is done working, they raise their hand for me to check them. Then, that work center goes to a specific area to be cleaned and then into a waiting period before anyone else can use it.