Friday, September 5, 2014

Literacy Centers - Names!

So this year I have decided to start our day out a little differently. The past couple years, we started the day off with journal writing. After attending I Teach K this summer, I was inspired to start literacy centers. Previously in our schedule, there was no time for us to fit in literacy centers minus the one literacy lab during our learning lab time. Journals were a fine choice and some of my students did a really nice job answering the journal prompt fully, but I honestly wasn't very consistent with my expectations for how students answer the prompt each day. I became so excited with all the ideas I learned at the conference that I had to just go for it this year with literacy centers and I think I will be super glad I did! They are going to get so much extra practice outside of our regular reading block and it gives me a time to work in my MTSS time for those that need it. Check out our first set of literacy centers focused around our names! 

I use these colorful tubs to put all the supplies in for each center. The tubs match our table colors, so they know where they go. 
Yellow center: name puzzles. All of the student names were cut apart and put into their own bags, so the students would put together their classmates' names at this station. Next time I would write the names on sentence strips and use more colors for the names. Many pieces would get lost or fall out of the bag, so I think the bigger pieces of a sentence strip and a variety of colors would help us keep them straight. If nothing else, it would help us find the correct name to put the missing piece with. Perhaps a baggy with a slide zip would be easier for the kiddos to shut the bags too! :)

 Purple center: rainbow names. I printed all the student names and pictures on their own cards, so the students grab a name and rainbow write it on their paper. At this point I'm not focused on how they write the letters on the lines just as long as they are making the letters readable. We will focus on each individual letter and how to write it during handwriting time. They did a really good job even if the colors weren't in rainbow order! ;) I found it helpful to put the six rainbow colors in a small bag for each student so that they weren't searching for the colors in a crayon box.

 Blue center: magnetic names. Using the same set of student names/pictures, the students draw a name and make it out of the magnetic letters. We try to talk to them about using the correct uppercase and lowercase letters, but sometimes it was hard to find the right letter in the big pile of magnets. :) Another problem we ran into with this one is that our font we teach is D'Nealian and the magnets are not in that font. Many of them were looking for the letters with kick-ups and would commonly put a 'j' for 'i' since it looks very similar. Next time I would probably print the names in a different font to match the magnets for this center. 

 Red center: dry erase names. Using the same set of names/pictures, the students drew a name and practiced writing it on their white board. It was great practice in forming the letters and using uppercase and lowercase letters correctly. 
 Green center: play dough names. Once again, the students used the name/picture cards to form their classmates' names out of play dough. Most of them did a nice job since we practiced making our own names out of play dough the first week of school. If I would do anything differently, I might print the names so that they were outlined and the kids could put the play dough letters on top of them. It might give them a better way to trace and create the letters. 

 For my MTSS group this week, I worked with the students who still need name writing practice. I wrote their names in highlighter and they traced the letters. This is great so that they can see the pencil markings as they go. We are already seeing improvement with our names!! YAY!! :)
I am loving the literacy center idea so far. It is definitely a little more prep, but I think it is SO worth it for my kiddos. The students visit one center each morning for about 20-25 minutes in their team that I've put together and they are already independently working (YAY!). We do the centers for two weeks and then switch them out, so they should end up going to each center twice. Next week we are focusing on some fine motor skills while bringing in the letters that we are learning in reading. I will be back soon to share those with you. 

Do you have any great literacy center ideas that you could share?! I would love for you to leave a link in the comments so I can come read all about them. This is a new-to-me idea even though I know people have been doing these forever! I'm just hoping to have and find enough engaging ideas to keep this going all year long without it getting old or boring for my kids, so please share your genius ideas with me! :)

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