First, make the centers so that they DON'T END! They need to be open ended centers so that your students don't ever get the chance to "finish early." One of my biggest pet peeves is when children say "I'm done!" long before I am ready for them to be done. During center time, my students are never allowed to say "I'm done." They are not done until I say they are done!
One of the easiest center examples is library. Students can read a variety of books during library center. You may even have some graphic organizers for students to fill out about what they are reading.
Another center I have is the sight word center. This center is stacked full of activities that students can choose from. If they finish one, they get out another. I change it out every so often with new sight words but it is a never ending center. Students can hunt for words in one of my many Spot and Jot pictures. They can create sight words from play dough. They can search for sight words in a book they have been reading. They can play sight word Tic-Tac-Toe. They can Read and Write the room. So many choices.
I also have a Superkids center. We use Superkids as our "reading program" in our school. While it is not my favorite, it does have some good things about it. While this center is directed towards Superkids in my school, it could be directed toward Journeys or Harcourt or whatever you might be using. In this center, students get with a partner and partner read their choice of one of the stories from the basal (it must be a story that we have already read together as a class). Then they may choose to do a graphic organizer about the story or one of the other activities that I have. I took photos of the pictures of each story from the basal that we read. I glued them to index cards and labeled them with the name of the story on the back. Students can use these cards for sequencing, retelling, or writing (pick a picture and write what is happening in the picture). I also laminated several of the sorts that came with the series and put them in this center. These sorts were blackline masters that were supposed to just be extra worksheets for the kids. Instead, I put them in a center.
Daily 5 also provides some great center ideas so that students can stay focused and working through the entire center time.
- Read to Self (Library Center)
- Read to Someone (Partner Reading)
- Work on Writing (Writing Center)
- Listen to Reading (Listening Center)
- Word Work (Spelling, Phonics, Sight Words)
What centers are your favorite?