Sometimes this means going to Lego table and talking about letter names and sounds as I build the letters from Legos. The student invariably wants to see what teacher is building and we have a fun conversation as I reinforce a few letters via the blocks. Soon they're building their own letters - and brainstorming words that start with it!
Sometimes I might have to head over to the Pipe Builders and encourage some sorting and patterning - or even number building!
Sometimes I get to indulge in some play-dough therapy while we create a pattern or count out how many "cookies" they have made me (thank goodness pretend cookies don't have calories!)
I try to meet the student at the center they've chosen, and just work a little extra learning into what they're already doing. Depending on the student it might be 5-10 minutes and then I move on. Sometimes they continue the activity after I leave, sometimes they've had their fill and they go back to their original play.
Sometimes though, I need a student in a specific center to practice an activity. I have a few little ones who are working on making sets. Rather than go to different centers and try to incorporate that skill into Home Living, Sand & Water Table AND whatever other center they choose, I create an activity that will be fun and engaging and set it up at Math or Letter Center. Generally, when I introduce something new, everyone wants to try it. So of course I maneuver it so that the students who need that particular skill the most get to choose their center first. The majority of the time they self-select the activity I wanted them to!
So today I introduced my Making Sets Snowmen - complete with sparkly star "buttons" (they're actually beads from Oriental Trading!).
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The beauty of this activity is that I can change it depending on which kiddo comes to the center. For some that are still working on identification, I call out a letter name. For other kiddos I call out the letter sound, and with still other kiddos I can make cvc word towers and have them crash the train into the correct word.
Every time I do this, I'm reminded of those recipes that try to "sneak" veggies in so kids don't notice them - like pureeing carrots into spaghetti sauce! What's your favorite way to "sneak" in the learning?