Friday, February 17, 2017

Kindergarten learning can be fun, engaging and meaningful!

  Ok, so it happened. For the first time in my 10+ years of teaching, I was asked by my principal to present at a staff meeting. Keep in mind that I am new to California, new to the school district, new to a Dual Immersion school AND in a new grade level... so to be asked to present in front of my teacher peers was quite the shock and honor.
   Now, I am an Early Childhood Educator. Everything that filters through my mind in education comes from an Early Childhood perspective. As a preschool teacher in the past, I always asked myself  "How can I incorporate learning in child's play?"
Now as a Kindergarten teacher, I ask myself, 
"How can I incorporate more play into my student's learning?"
    It has been my mission to work adamantly to provide fun, play based, academic learning activities for my Kindergarteners. Why? Because I understand that regardless of all of the academic rigor that has trickled down onto our Kindergarten kids, they are still just 5 years old! They need to play, they need to have some fun in school. Their learning needs to be fun, engaging and meaningful.
This has always been my teaching philosophy since Teaching Day One.
    So anyhow, being a new teacher in a new state and a new school district (and in a new grade level), I have had to learn a lot this year. Hence, my prolonged absence from here! Time has not been my friend lately, that is for sure! But thanks to Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers, I have come to find and create some really great, fun and engaging Center Work Activities for my bilingual Kinders. They love working in centers independently and I can do my other teacher duties (reading groups, guided writing, etc.) while they work.
     So, any how, I was asked by my principal to present about my Center Work Activities. She gave me the daunting task of presenting what I do and how I do it!!
     Last school year, I was teaching Spanish in a Montessori school and I learned alot. The one thing that I really took away from my Montessori experience is the notion of a Prepared Environment. Everything that I want and need my students to learn, as well as things that I know they need to practice, is all laid out for them, In my classroom, I have 4 different Centers: Art Center, ABC/Literacy Center, Math Center and a Library/Writing Center.
    In each center, there is one shelf. On each shelf, there are at least 8 activities for the children to choose from. Each center activity is specifically geared to whatever skills we have learned and skills that we are in the process of learning-- with some activities being a little more challenging for those kiddos who need it. The point of each activity is to provide the students with opportunities to practice academic skills and build fluency and confidence in their own abilities.
    By providing only certain activities, I am ensuring that they are "playing" with the materials and practicing the skills associated with it. By having several different options of focused activities to choose from, I am giving them a choice (though limited) in what it is they want to do or work on. I keep a close eye on the types of activities/games that are of high interest so that I know what is working and what is not working-- and switch activities out accordingly.

  In my next blog post, I will share the center activities that have been on our shelves for the 
past week and a half, as well as some of my favorite TPT authors that I utilize frequently!