Center Management

One of the questions I get asked a LOT is how I manage my students during center time. I spend the first 2 months of the school year getting students ready for small group work but that can be just half of the battle. Right?

How do students know where they are going?
How do they know when to move on to the next activity?
How long do they stay at each center?

This is my rotation board. Nothing fancy but it totally works for me. I have a pocket chart that I got from a local teacher's store and then I created picture cards to represent the centers my students will be going to that day.  I have students grouped by colors. I group my students based on data taken in the classroom. My students move in and out of groups every few weeks so keeping the activities the same makes the expectations and rotations easier.

These pictures help students see where they will begin and move to next. I change the pictures out (and add a fluency one if that is a skill that is needed) at the end of the day. Students know what their expectation is since my centers follow the same routines each month.

Here are a few examples of  word work centers my students have been working on this month

 All my activities come from my monthly literacy packs.

Each activity is 20 minutes long. I have a digital timer displayed on our screen so students are aware of how much time they have left.  When the bell rings students know it is time to clean up and move to the next center. I see 3 groups each day and I also see a group for extra intervention support.

Keeping students accountable is another part of managing the centers. With most of my centers, I have a response sheet that my students fill out to show what they have learned. This helps them complete the task and also shows me how they are progressing.  If students are writing in journals we go over those in small groups so students know they must get the work done.

I also used this chart during the earlier part of the year to encourage students to try and do their best work during small group time. I always tell them I will be checking it later too. 😊

Now students need to work and practice on these expectations but after a while, they will know their routine and hopefully, your center time will start to feel smoother too!

You can grab a copy of my picture cards by clicking here!

I hope this has answered some questions and helped a bit. If you have any more questions feel free to reply back to me.

The First 5 Minutes of Guided Reading

We all know how hard it is to squeeze everything we need to do with a group of kids into 20 minutes of group time. This past year I have started to use those first 5 minutes of my group time in a different way to help maximize the time by starting with letter identification and sounds.

When my students arrive at the teacher table we take out our letter sound cards for the week and begin. I have grouped the letters by most commonly seen ones and we work through that sequence.  The students chant the letter name. Then we say the name of the picture that is on the card, Next, we say the sound that letter makes.

Once I have talked about the letter names and the sounds they make I introduce some picture cards that also show the same beginning sounds to my group. We talk about the pictures and what sound we hear at the beginning of them and sort them to the matching beginning sound card. The students like this interactive game and to be apart of the process. On the first day, I only do about picture card per sound just so I can introduce it all and then we move on to the next part of our guided reading lesson.

The second time I meet with this same group we review the same 5 sounds but then, I may just focus on 2 of the sounds and pull out 5 beginning sound picture cards for 2 of the letter and the kids have to sort all of the cards. This again helps reinforce and hear the differences between the letter sounds and also help build their vocabulary.

I will work on the same 5 letter sound with this group for about 2 weeks doing matches with the picture cards, letter sorts with all kinds of letter tiles to the big picture cards, and hopefully, by then my students will be ready to move on the next set of 5 letters.

Depending on the level of my students I try and meet with them 2-3 a week. After I do meet with them I do give them so word work type activities to work on independently in small groups that I will talk about in another blog post soon.

The Beginning Sound picture cards are for sale in my TPT store. Just click here to see them.  If you would like to get the bigger alphabet cards you can get them here by joining my email list!

I also have a video of me talking about how I use these cards head over to my Instagram page and click on my IGTV channel. There is a video over there where I explained this whole routine too!

I hope you found some of these tips helpful. Over the years I have found my teacher style keeps changing but, this way of starting out my guided reading group had made a difference for my kids this year and I think this is one routine I am going to stick with. If you have any questions feel free to leave it below.

Make sure to pin this image to Pinterest and save this blog post to your favorite board too!

Thanks for stopping by!

100 Days Smarter!

This past week we celebrated our 100th day of school!  Lots of fun activities were planned to celebrate the day and I ordered some goodies from Oriental Trading as well. I can't wait to show you what we did.

We started off the party with decorating crowns to show we are 100 days smarter! I love these since the kids get to color them in. They loved them too!

Next up we started with a craft. Each student got a gumball machine and filled them with 100 gumballs.

what I LOVED about this all the numbers are mixed up so I gave my students an extra challenge. I had them make each set of 10 a different color. This kept them busy and QUIET for such a long time. They had to hunt for those numbers.

I was really impressed with how hard they worked on filling this machine up!

Next, we worked on a variety of activities that included the number 100. These activities came from my 100 Days print and go resource.

Listening and following directions.

A flip book!

Different ways to have fun during the day!

It made the day so exciting and interactive!

Then to finish off the day each student got a bag of goodies to take home.
                                              Bookmarks to use in our favorite books!

                                           Stickers cause who doesn't love stickers?!!

                Pencils(cause we never have enough of those). I also found erasers for them too!

The day passed by so quickly that we never got to our last activity! So we are going to work on them this week.

So if you are planning your 100th day make sure you check out all the goodies that Oriental Trading has to help with your celebration.

If you want to save any of these ideas pin the picture below to your favorite Pinterest board.

** Oriental Trading has been a classroom favorite resource of mine to order items from. They do send me items to review/write a blog post about. I am happy to share these ideas with all my readers and all opinions are my own.

Have fun celebrating 100 Days of School!

Polar Bear Eraser Activities

If you have been following me for awhile you all know how much I ADORE mini erasers. So I was SOO excited when I discovered that Oriental Trading had some that I did not know about!

Today I am teamed up with Oriental Trading to give you a sneak peek into my eraser activities using these adorable polar bear mini erasers. As always, these opinions are my own. 

Mini erasers are a favorite activity of my students. They just love them and I love how engaged they are while using them. So awhile back I created a whole bunch of math and word work mats to use with these erasers.

Here are a few of them:

Roll To 100: Students roll a dice and add that many erasers to their mat. When the whole mat is filled up they count to see how many of their erasers were used. Whoever used the most is the winner.

Spin and Graph: What I love about this set are all the different colors they come in. They make spin and graph much more fun!

The different colors are also great for creating patterns.

Addition and Subtraction are skills we work on all year long and using erasers makes learning our facts so much more fun.

You can find all the math mats in my Mini Eraser Activity pack. I have created activities for each mini eraser I have found. I keep adding new activities to it all the time too! You can see them by clicking the picture below

Head on over to Oriental Trading to check out all the great mini erasers they have. I will be getting more and adding even more sheets to my eraser pack.

Feel free to pin the image below to save these ideas to one of your boards.

HP Insta Ink

Teachers do a TON of printing. We are always needing something for our classroom and sometimes we can not do it all at school.I do most of my printing at home. Yes, at home. I can print as much color and black and white sheets as I need. Wanna know how?  HP Insta Ink.

I get asked all the time how do you get all your classroom centers and activities printed in color? It is all thanks to the Insta Ink. HP Insta Ink is a program you can sign up for and pay a monthly fee.  They have 4 plans you can pick from to meet your needs.

I use the Frequent plan since I know I have stations, books and more that I need for my classroom. As you can see each plan is based on how many pages a month you want to print.  The best thing is that if for some reason I don't use all my pages in a month they ROLL OVER! Yes, you read that right I keep the pages I don't use until I need them.  There is no fee for cancelation either but, I think once you try it you will be hooked!

Now to get starting with HP Insta Ink you need a printer that is qualified for the program. Here is a list of printers that will work.

If you have a different printer that is not on this list, it won't work. That is what I ran into about a year ago. So, I shopped around and settled on the HP ENVY printer.

I have been using the HP Envy for over a year. This printer does it all for me. Prints, scans, copies and it is wireless. That means I can print from my phone or Ipad. I can print double-sided too!

The Insta Ink printer lets HP know when your ink is low. There is no need to ever go out and purchase ink for your printer. Your printer will let HP know when your ink is getting low and new ink will be then sent to your home. Usually, my ink arrives well before I need to replace it in my printer. I can use as much color or black ink as needed. Color and black and white pages cost the same so I can print whatever I need to without any worries.

I can log on at any time on the HP Insta Ink site and see how many pages I have used for the month. I can also see how many rollover pages I have left too.

Are you ready to sign up?  If you have a new printer and use this HP Insta Ink Link you will get one month of FREE ink! You can also use the coupon code SAVE50PERCENT when signing up to get 2 MORE months of FREE ink.That is 3 free month to start off. You won't be charged for the plan you pick until your free months are over.  Then just follow the instructions to set it up on your printer. Super easy, fast and convenient.

Here are a few more reasons that this was the best choice for me.
* Cartridges are bigger than XL ones so I can print more with them
* No cancelation fee at any time
* Change plan at any time.  All you need to do is just hit EDIT on your homepage.
* Never run to the store for ink again.

I hope that this helped answer some questions. Like I have said before this was a very helpful, smart choice for me. If you would like to save this post to your Pinterest board just pin the picture below.