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Sunday, September 28, 2014

STILL MORE Centers for Your Classroom

Have you tried using critical thinking centers in your classroom?  If not, you really should.  Following are some of my students' favorites:

The thing I love the most about Triads, is that I can practically see the cogs turning in my students' brains.  My kiddos clamor for these brain exercises.  But, be forewarned! If you require a quiet, calm demeanor in your students, don't bring out Triads.  The enthusiasm they generate simply can't be contained.

Here's how they work: Show your students a Triads card, explaining that 1 word that can be added to each of the triad words to make a well-known phrase or compound word. The common word may be added before or after the triad words.  Did you figure out the example given here?  The common word is card; birthday card, credit card, and cardboard.  

My students love Triads so much that I have created literally hundreds of these little gems.  You can peruse the ones I've published by going here.

I know it's corny, but I just can't help myself. . . You will get a lot of bang for your buck with $1 Words.  This activity combines ELA and math with critical thinking and problem solving.  Moreover, your students will:

  • conduct research (old fashioned or internet)
  • work with parts of speech, prefixes and suffixes, vocabulary, and grammar 
  • compute money values (manually or with calculators)
  • hone editing and spelling skills
  • learn study skills
  • and so much more
My $1 Words units are much more "kid friendly" than most $1 Word studies in that they provide clues for students to solve.  
Run this as a competition between classes and you will find that you need 100s of clues!  My enrichment students can't get enough. Even better, the 1st unit in this series is FREE!

Square Puzzlers may just be the ideal center because even fast finishers can't finish them quickly. These gems require patience, perseverence, and problem solving; attributes we would like all of our students to develop.

The challenge with these puzzles is to reconstruct the square so that all of the images match on every interior side. This is the 2x2 square (reassembled) that is intended for the youngest students. 3x3 and 4x4 squares are included for exponentially more challenging puzzles for older students.

Want more critical thinking center ideas?  Check out the resources on my collaborative Pinterest board, It's About Time for Critical Thinking.  If you would like to join as a collaborator, we'd love to have you!

Other critical thinking centers you may like:


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Even More Centers for Your Classroom

It's about time, teachers, for more centers.

Today is all about math centers...

Be a Math Magician is a set of 20 math puzzles and brain teasers. These activities are learning disguised as fun. Students are honing their problem solving skills as they exercise inductive and deductive reasoning. The Math Magician tricks also promote creative thinking, as your students will need to think “outside the box.” 

Each of the puzzles makes an easy center for your math block. They are perfect for differentiation, especially for enrichment and/or GATE students. These puzzles are also useful as anchor activities, sponge activities, or challenges for fast finishers. They lend themselves well to collaborative thinking, too.

Monkey Squares are square arrays of n x n rows and columns in which n items fill the cells so that no item is used more than once in each row and column. Known as Latin Squares, they are used for statistical analysis in mathematics. If they seem familiar, they should; Sudoku is a 9 x 9 Latin Square.

Monkey Squares exercise H.O.T.S. for students in K-5.  There are a series of boards that advance from a 3 x 3 array to a 6 x 6 array.  My students beg to do Monkey Squares.  I'll bet your's will, too.

There are 20 sports pictures that children can use for sorting and/or patterning in Sports Sorts.  The pictures are provided in color and grayscale.  There are numerous suggestions for the sorts to get you started. 

Also included are task cards if you wish to prescribe your students' patterns. Of course, you could always leave the patterns up to them.  A recording sheet and a basketball court work mat are provided.

You may be interested in joining my collaborative Pinterest board, It's About Time for Math Centers.  If you would like to pin to it, follow the board, then email me with your Pinterest info @

Other centers you may like:


Saturday, September 20, 2014

MORE New Centers for Primary Classrooms

Literacy Centers, that is!

Here are 3 more literacy centers your primary students will love:

Watermelon Words is a center focused on compound words.  Your students will find pairs of watermelon slices that form compound words.  The words have a summer theme.  

For the youngest learners, the task is to simply find the pairs.  More capable students can place the 30 cards facedown in a 5x6 array and then play a game of Memory.  This center includes labels for you center folder and a recording sheet.  Watermelon Words literacy center can be found in its entirety in my poetry unit, Poetry Possibilities for Summer.  Now, for the first time, it is offered as a stand alone product.

Lunchbox literacy center is another compound word center.  Students will find pairs of lunchboxes that can form a compound word.  The words in this center are all school related.  A recording sheet is included, as are labels for your folder. This center is included in my Back to School Poetry Possibilties.  It is now available as a stand alone product.  

Flying Dragon Bingo is a versatile center focusing on initial consonant blends.  You can set it up as a small group center, or use it for a whole class game.  Like traditional bingo, each player has a board.  The teacher or leader holds up a picture card.  The students determine the initial consonant blend, covering it with a flying dragon piece.  Each bingo board has the same set of consonant blends; rearranged, of course.  

This center includes 26 bingo boards, 96 picture cards, and as many flying dragon markers as you need.  Labels are provided for your storage folder.  

It's about time to try some new centers!  For even more center ideas, follow/join my collaborative Pinterest board, It's About Time for Literacy Centers.

Other centers you may like:


Friday, September 5, 2014

New Centers for Primary Classrooms

It's about time, teachers, for new centers for your primary classrooms.  

I've got several that are hot off the presses...

Lately I've been updating, refreshing, and expanding many of my thematic units. Hoedown! (based on the book, Barn Dance) has just been super expanded to nearly 3x its original size.  This is largely due to the addition of 3 new centers.  

Down on the Farm is a cute little center about recognizing the number of syllables in a word. All of the words are farm vocabulary and have no more than 2 syllables.  There are 2 work mats and 18 picture/word cards for sorting.  I've also included a recording sheet in case you want your students to document their work.  You can get just the center; you do not have to buy the thematic unit.

Owl and Crow Literacy Center focuses on /ow/. Students will decide whether the picture/word card has the same /ow/ sound as in owl or in crow. This center also has 18 picture/word cards, 2 work mats, folder labels, and a recording sheet.  Again, it is available as a stand alone product.

Tractor Races is a math center in which students practice number sense and 1-to-1 correspondence.  Formatted as a game, students will roll a number cube and move their tractor that number of spaces on the game board.  The first tractor to the reach the barn is the winner.

It's about time to try some new centers.  I hope you'll like these.