If You Lived in Colonial Times {Plus a "Duh" Moment or Two!}

Friday was my official observation that is required in my district every three years for tenured staff. I decided to throw caution to the wind and have my administrator observe the organized chaos of my newest centers that go with the book If You Lived in Colonial Times.

As I was preparing the materials ahead of time (as opposed to the quick print outs, let the kids cut out the pieces, and toss in the trash when done type of prep that I normally do), I decided to laminate everything and keep them for next year. I don't have a lot of time for centers in ELA, but I do in social studies, so I knew that this would be a keeper.

I am sure that I am late to the party on this one, but as I was trying to figure out the best way to organize things for this dog and pony show, I had a revelation. File folders! I attached the laminated title pages on the front of the folder with sticky dots.

On the inside, I used the sticky dots to attach the pockets for the sorting activities...

For the task card centers, I punched a hole a few inches from the top of the folder and fed a paper clip through to hold the cards. I don't have a picture of that for some reason, but it's pretty snazzy.

Now I'm not sure how you do centers, but I do them all at the same time and rotate the kids every 15 minutes. That way I can walk around and answer questions instead of being stuck with a small group like some people do during ELA. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with that. This is just the way I prefer to do them.

And here is another a-ha moment. Instead of making the five centers and having groups of five to six kids at each one (which never worked for me because the three kids that can't see just tune out and talk with each other), I made three copies of each center so the kids could work on them in pairs!!! They still rotated in a group, but since I also have a class set of books, there were enough copies of everything so that each pair could have their own set of materials. Genius!!! I'm not sure why it took me so long to figure that out!

These kids are working on sorting what colonists did and did not eat.

This pair is answering some multiple-choice questions with QR codes.

These ladies are sorting the features of colonial houses.

I just walked around while they were working and answered questions as I went. When the timer went off after 15 minutes, they rotated and started the new center. I told them that I would be grading them on three things - staying on task (SOOO hard for this group of kids), working together (I have some kids that take the lead and the others just sit there), and doing your best. If they didn't finish the center in 15 minutes, no big deal (unless I had already marked them down for not staying on task). While a few were concerned that they would get a bad grade if they didn't finish, I assured them that I was just grading them on the three things that I mentioned. So if they were working the whole time, they were fine. This also solved the problem of the slacking group members. I just walked around with my clipboard and made tallies after the kids' names who were off task when I went by them (which really wasn't an issue for most students). These centers took me two days to complete with checking and a little bit of discussion on the second day.

I think that the centers were a nice break from the textbook, and I will definitely be making more for the other sets of these books that I have. Each of my three social studies classes really enjoyed them, and the discussions that they were having as I circled were really much more involved than our typical class discussions with the same five or six kids that always participate.

If you are interested in these centers, click on the picture below.

13 Colonies

Oh, and my observation went well :)


  1. So happy to hear your observation went well. Love the idea of using sticky dots - I will be stealing that idea later this week!!

  2. Whew! Glad that's done! It's sometimes hard for me to let go of the control during these types of activities.. but I always find that student participation shoots way up - like you said, instead of interacting with the 5 or 6 students who always do.
    :) Erin

  3. It's so much fun to do centers! Great idea to include the task cards using a paper clip, I usually do a plastic bag and then they slide all over.

  4. Great ideas on so many levels here!

  5. This looks great! I'm going to have to remember this for next year for sure!!! It sounds like your evaluation went well!! I bet they loved to see organized chaos where the kids are actually engaged!! Well done!!
    Thanks for linking up!
    Collaboration Cuties

  6. So glad your evaluation went well, but I wouldn't have guessed it to go any different! I'm amazed at what you do in your classroom each time I read your blog!

    Christy Teaching Tales Along the Yellow Brick Road

  7. I really like the idea of making 3 copies of each center so they work in pairs!

  8. I am so excited to use these this week! I have your Iroquois centers too and love them! One thing that I have found helpful is to copy each center onto a different color paper. Then, if a piece or two get separated they are quick and easy to put back. Thanks for all you do! I am a big fan! ;o)

  9. I am so excited to use these this week! I have your Iroquois centers too and love them! One thing that I have found helpful is to copy each center onto a different color paper. That way if a piece or two get separated, they can be easily put back. I am a huge fan of yours, thanks for all you do!


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