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 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.