Sneaking in the Learning! (Freebie)

I wanted to share with you how I sneak in learning during our free choice center time. Of course I set my centers up so that students are learning something at each one - whether it's developing fine motor skills at play-dough center or learning about symmetry and engineering concepts at our Lego table, each center is about so much more than "just play". But, sometimes a student needs practice on a  specific skill - something that requires 1 on 1 or small group intervention. The best way I've found to do this is by sneaking that skill into a center!

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!). 
The object of the activity is to place the correct amount of buttons on each snowman, based on the number on their hat. This little friend gave the activity a big "thumbs up"!
All 3 of my "targets" voluntarily chose the center, as well as a handful of other kiddos. This is perfectly fine - it won't hurt them to reinforce the skill, and sometimes they can challenge themselves, like this little guy who created a pattern as he was making his set!

  If you want to grab these cuties, click here to download them for FREE! And then check out other Friday Freebies over at Teaching Blog Addict!

We also started doing a "Crash 'Em Up!" game at our Block Center. I have a few boys who really love that center and they could all use extra reinforcement with letters/sounds. So I created a fun activity with some simple wooden cubes I had lying around from who-knows-what-project. I wrote letters on them with a Sharpie and brought them to the Block Center is a little cup. I had the boys help me set up our trains on two hills and had them stack up 3 blocks at the bottom of each hill. Then I call out a letter, my boys point it out and then they get to send the correct train down its hill to crash into the letters! I caught it on video today:

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?

2 Rustle Up A Response!:

ronnie said... Reply to comment

Thank you.

Amy said... Reply to comment

I've the letter Legos!!!

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