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April 11, 2018

5 Spring-Themed Centers

By Nancy Jang
Grades PreK–K, 1–2

    I teach first grade and I have a confession: I struggle with centers. I have tried a hundred different types and as many methods to manage centers, but chaos reigns. I never seem to be able to get the kids moving in a productive manner so that I can pull a few small groups for reading or math. The few successes I've had over the years are in large part due to an army of parent volunteers that have manned the stations, with an eye on behaviors and keeping the kids on task.

    As every teacher knows, some years you are tripping over the abundance of parent helpers, and other times — where did they go? In those lean years, my lack of a good plan for centers has been painfully obvious. This year, I focused on improving my centers and making them seem more like play than work. My students are more engaged and willing to "play" over and over again. That is a win in my book.

    A little fun goes a LONG way. How do I make it feel like play? Easy! I just add a few seasonal items and toys from the 99-cent store!

    Here are some of our favorite spring-themed center activities:

    1. Jump Rope Words

    Kids grab a jump rope and spell their spelling words as they jump! If they miss on the rope or spell the word wrong, they have to start over.

    2. Break an Egg

    Using Bananagram or Scrabble letter tiles and plastic pull-apart eggs, fill each egg with letters that make up sight words. Have the students unscramble the letters in each egg to create one of the words from your sight word list. Once students unscramble the word, they write it in a marker or crayon color that matches the egg color that it came from.  

    3. Bunny Toss

    Kids take turns throwing a stuffed bunny to try to land it on a plate that has a word and a number. If the bunny lands on the plate or touches the plate, the child will read the word. If they read it correctly, they get the points designated on the plate. If they read it wrong, they do not earn any points. If the bunny does not touch or land on the plate, they pass their turn. Whoever has the most points at the end of 10 turns wins!

    4. Play Dough Words 

    Print out sheets of paper with spelling words on each. Put them in page protectors and pass out. Kids grab a container of play dough and "trace" the word on the page protector using the dough. After making the play dough word, they write the word correctly six times under the play dough.

    5. Scrambled Sentences

    Using the plastic eggs again, take a decodable sentence that you have cut into word pieces and place inside the eggs. The students break open an egg and unscramble the sentences so that they make sense. They then copy the sentence onto a recording sheet and return the pieces back into the respective egg. They can only open one egg at a time to keep the pieces from getting intermingled with the content from another egg.

    Teacher tip: Mark the back of each piece of paper to match the color egg it belongs in!

    I hope that these ideas help put a little fun into your center time and keep your kiddos engaged and begging for more. Happy Spring!

    Happy Teaching,

    Nancy

     

    I teach first grade and I have a confession: I struggle with centers. I have tried a hundred different types and as many methods to manage centers, but chaos reigns. I never seem to be able to get the kids moving in a productive manner so that I can pull a few small groups for reading or math. The few successes I've had over the years are in large part due to an army of parent volunteers that have manned the stations, with an eye on behaviors and keeping the kids on task.

    As every teacher knows, some years you are tripping over the abundance of parent helpers, and other times — where did they go? In those lean years, my lack of a good plan for centers has been painfully obvious. This year, I focused on improving my centers and making them seem more like play than work. My students are more engaged and willing to "play" over and over again. That is a win in my book.

    A little fun goes a LONG way. How do I make it feel like play? Easy! I just add a few seasonal items and toys from the 99-cent store!

    Here are some of our favorite spring-themed center activities:

    1. Jump Rope Words

    Kids grab a jump rope and spell their spelling words as they jump! If they miss on the rope or spell the word wrong, they have to start over.

    2. Break an Egg

    Using Bananagram or Scrabble letter tiles and plastic pull-apart eggs, fill each egg with letters that make up sight words. Have the students unscramble the letters in each egg to create one of the words from your sight word list. Once students unscramble the word, they write it in a marker or crayon color that matches the egg color that it came from.  

    3. Bunny Toss

    Kids take turns throwing a stuffed bunny to try to land it on a plate that has a word and a number. If the bunny lands on the plate or touches the plate, the child will read the word. If they read it correctly, they get the points designated on the plate. If they read it wrong, they do not earn any points. If the bunny does not touch or land on the plate, they pass their turn. Whoever has the most points at the end of 10 turns wins!

    4. Play Dough Words 

    Print out sheets of paper with spelling words on each. Put them in page protectors and pass out. Kids grab a container of play dough and "trace" the word on the page protector using the dough. After making the play dough word, they write the word correctly six times under the play dough.

    5. Scrambled Sentences

    Using the plastic eggs again, take a decodable sentence that you have cut into word pieces and place inside the eggs. The students break open an egg and unscramble the sentences so that they make sense. They then copy the sentence onto a recording sheet and return the pieces back into the respective egg. They can only open one egg at a time to keep the pieces from getting intermingled with the content from another egg.

    Teacher tip: Mark the back of each piece of paper to match the color egg it belongs in!

    I hope that these ideas help put a little fun into your center time and keep your kiddos engaged and begging for more. Happy Spring!

    Happy Teaching,

    Nancy

     

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GRADES: 1-2
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