Project Home School, Day 2:
Centers: Each class at our school has a Centers time every day as a way of offering children choice about their learning while building skills and having fun! I want to be clear that by choice I mean limited choice– that’s one element that makes Centers Time different from Free Play. I offer no more than three or four centers a day and insist that my children pick from those choices during our 45 minute Centers Time. They are allowed to move from center to center if they have cleaned up what they did at the previous center.
I think about offering different types of learning and play experiences so that children will get some variety in the activities they are engaging in. You can make this as simple or as complex as feels right for you. If you need to do work during this time, grab out trains, paper and markers and legos and set them up in three different “stations” in your living room. If you have availability to oversee this part of the day, this is a great time to offer an art project, a science experiment, a baking project or whatever else feels good to you.
Our Centers over the past few days:
- Playdough and Pennies: The kids were each allowed to count out ten pennies and hide them in a lump of play dough. They then passed their play dough to each other and tried to find all of the hidden pennies. (If your kid likes a challenge, have them find the pennies with just one hand while they hold the other hand behind their back.) This is a great sensory center that builds fine-motor strength for handwriting. You can meet your child at their own mathematical level by asking them to count to ten pointing to each coin (or doing hand-over-hand pointing as needed), by asking them how many they have found so far and by challenging them to figure out how many more they’ll need to find to have uncovered all ten.
- Book Writing: Fold some paper in half, staple it down the side and you have a book. If you want to get fancy and you have construction paper at your house, you can make a colored book cover as well. Calvin decided to write down all the letters he knows how to write in random order and then delighted in hearing me read out the nonsense words he had spelled. It was fun and great letter writing practice. Idgie and I played a word family game practicing the sound -at. I wrote _____at four times down one page in her book. She wrote different consonants on the lines I drew, creating both real and nonsense words such as cat, gat, hat and jat. We then practiced reading the words she had created. The silly ones were the biggest hit!
- Magnatiles and Arctic Animals: Sometimes when toys feel stale, combining them with other toys gets the kids interested in them again. I broke out some small arctic animals toys that no one has played with in a while and suddenly the kids were constructing an elaborate zoo/rocket ship for the penguins to live in.
Reflection Meeting: Reflection Meeting is a chance for children to reflect on the work they did during Centers time and to share that work with their community. It’s a way for us as parents and teachers to communicate to them that the work they do is interesting, important and worthy of reflection. I structure this simply by asking kids if they did anything that they would like to share with the group. It might be a lego structure that they asked permission to save and show the group, a story about something that they did that they were proud of or something hard that happened that they want people to know about, such as a conflict they had or something that they struggled to do. The rest of the family can ask them questions about their work or their story or give them a compliment. If the child shares something that was hard for them, you can ask them if they would like a suggestion that might help them next time or if they just want you to listen. Usually, I find that kids are more willing to share a struggle when they know that it’s an option for their audience to just listen without offering solutions.
As always, please reach out with any thoughts, questions or suggestions. My thoughts and my heart are with you all.
Yours in partnership,