Back in the fall I started something new/ different and I have to say that centers are now a BREEZE! Our must do baskets and choice baskets really make it easy for me to get in small groups and differenate my instruction, and centers.
1). Must do Baskets- These change out every 6 days, but it's not all new items. Most of the time I'm moving things from blue to purple to green to pink baskets. There are somethings that my blue baskets aren't ready for and those items I keep in the magazine bins on top. The pink baskets are truly my high flyers and their baskets are just that, skills that are above the current skill level. For example, my little high flyers are working on ending sounds while the rest of the class are working on beginning sounds.
Most months I am only changing out for all new activities every 2 weeks. My high flyers get new things more frequently because their things aren't easily traded to another color group. Of course I can pull an activity at any time and replace it with something different.
2). Can do choices- This is what my kids do when they have completed the task that I need them to do. Each neighborhood has books, puzzles, and baskets. I also have things like listening center, sensory table, writing, and magnetic centers assigned to each of the neighborhood. I have spent a lot of time discussing/ training my kids to know that a can do center has 2 people working together. Or you can work by yourself. I do this to cut down on the noise.
Changing out can do centers was tricky for me at first. Getting activities that the children could do independently and not turn into free play proved to be a challenge. But we made it past that. These baskets I change out when I notice that the kids aren't "picking" to do that anymore or that they are turning it into free play.
Here are some of my choices for can do baskets:
Fine motor activities:
Spinner games that we have used in must do baskets but still need some practice with.
Open ended matching or ordering games:
Matchy matchy games: think memory, or matching of any type.
We also have a computer area, books, sensory table, and iPads in our room that children can use.
This week is spring break for me and I am working to put up in my TPT store LOTS of $2 center game files. Each of these packs have 3 types of cards and 3 recording sheets. In the letter and sounds packs there are upper case, lower case, and sound cards and recording sheets. When I use these in our must do baskets I use a recording sheet and the children pull a card out of a "bag" and find it's match on the recording sheet. When I put these games into the can do centers, I leave them open ended so that the children can decide what to do with them. Sometimes they match them upper to lower, sometimes the put the cards in ABC order. It's up to the kids and that means that they spend more time working on that item. I am obsessing over these jen hart Designs letters!!! Aren't they super cute?!?!? My kiddos are going to loose their minds!