Monday, February 13, 2012

Workstations and Explore Time

I once went to a Vermont Kindergarten Conference where the Commissioner of Education spoke as the key note speaker. His message was loud and clear. PLAY is the most important part of a Kindergartner's day. Each day it is my job to make sure that an adequate amount of time (at least 1 hour) per day is devoted to play. This is something that I strive for in our daily schedule. I can teach children, but real, true, learning also occurs when I step back and they interact with each other. 

In order to ensure that each day we spend time devoted to play, our schedule includes Workstations and Explore time. During these times students spend time doing play based learning at centers. A center is a self-contained area of  the classroom that is dedicated to exploration of a particular subject or material- such as building in the block center, manipulatives at the math shelf, and puzzles, checkers, and lacing cards at the puzzles and games shelf.  Research shows that young children learn best through experimentation, play, and opportunities to explore and discover their world. In the process, they make meaningful connections between their ideas and knowledge. Most mornings we have Work Stations (teacher assigned stations) and each afternoon we have Explore (student selected centers). Children have many opportunities to make choices, explore at their own level, solve problems, work with friends, use oral language, practice skills, develop responsibility, and be creative. Play. 

Here is a list of the play based centers in our classroom.

  • Dramatic Play (kichen, vet office, bakery, restaurant, dress-up, etc.)
  • Family House (doll house)
  • Math Shelf ( pattern blocks, number games, dice games, building cubes)
  • Puzzles and Games Shelf (lacing cards, legos, games, puzzles, etc.)
  • Writing Center (paper, stamps, writing tools)
  • Science Table (this month we have magnets and science journals)
  • Computers
  • Block Area
  • Playdough Table 
  • Listening Center (we just got a new CD player and books on CD thanks to grant money) 
Here are a few snapshots of Kids working during an Explore time. Enjoy!