Managing Centers in Preschool

Let's set the scene for a moment... you just set up an epic pumpkin patch in your dramatic play center. It is complete with pumpkins (uh, I'd hope so), a wheelbarrow, leaves and rakes, a scarecrow, and...yes you get it- the center is AH-MAZING!

So, what do all your children do when they arrive? They race to your homemade Pumpkin Patch! All 10 of them, in unison! You think, 'Oh, how nice this will be- the whole class playing together!' Then, reality sets in and all you hear is "No, I want to be the cashier!" and "Teacher, he just took my pumpkin!" and "OWW! Billy just hit me with the rake!" So much for playing together...

The problem was there was too many kids in one area of the classroom. They couldn't play freely, they couldn't talk out what roles they were going to play because there was just too many of them!

One thing to know about my classroom is that we are play-based. I never force students to go to certain centers, they are allowed to choose where they want to work and whom they might want to work with. That being said, the morning of the Pumpkin Patch they ALL happened to want to choose the Drama Center (of course they did- it is epic after all!).

So, I had to come up with a solution that did not involve micro-managing their choices. So, here it is folks- the moment you've been waiting for... Wait, I am pretty sure this idea has been out there awhile, but it is working for me- so maybe it will work for you?

Limit the number of kiddos in each center! I might have built this up a little too much...please accept my apology. BUT, it is working...really well!

See those signs with numbers on them in the pics above? Yep, those are my little miracle workers, baby! I have some signs that allow 4 students to be in the center (Drama and Blocks) and some that allow 2 students (all the rest of the centers) at a time. Those little silver circles under the number? Washers (make sure they are magnetic!) that I hot glued to the laminated signs.

Then, I bought some thick cardboard pieces from the craft store. I think the ones in the picture above were supposed to be chalkboard labels or something. I added a magnet to the back (buy some thick heavy duty magnets, not that stuff on a roll) and DONE!

Now, when the center is full of names, my kiddos know that they have to pick somewhere different to go until a spot opens up. I have loved the management side of it, but also it encourages some of my kiddos to try out centers they may not have tried before!

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Why You Should be Making Class Books in Preschool

What is a class book?  A class book is a homemade book that includes a page from each student in the class.  We love to make class books in our pre-k class.  Not only are they perfect for the literacy center, they are also a great keepsake.  We are going to create enough class books this year so that every child can have one at preschool graduation!

Why you should be making class books in your preschool classroom.

Why you should be making class books in your preschool classroom.

Benefits of Class Book Making:

  1. Each child gets to be included in the book, therefore they take ownership and pride in the book.

  2. When placed in the literacy center, class books are a popular choice for reading over and over again, making them great repetitive books for students to 'read'.

  3. When children take part in the book making process, they have a better respect for how to treat their books.

  4. Class books can be adapted to focus on skills that children need support in.

  5. Children learn about authors and illustrators

What kind of Class Books do you make?

We have done lots of fun books in the past.  Just this year we have completed books about Apples, Pumpkins and Scarecrows.  For the 'Apples On Top' we read the book 10 Apples Up On Top by Dr. Suess.  Then, we tried to balance 'apples' (we used bean bags) on top of our heads to see how many we could balance.  I took a picture of each child and placed it in the class book.  For 'How Many Pumpkins?', I placed numbered pumpkins vertically on the wall (with #1 on the bottom).  We measured ourselves against the pumpkins to see how many pumpkins tall we were!  I took a pictures of each child and they completed a book page by coloring in how many pumpkins tall they were.  The 'Scarecrow Scarecrow' class book was more of a creative thinking activity.  We learned about how scarecrows scare crows.  We thought of something a scarecrow might scare and drew a picture.  The individual book pages said: 'Scarecrow, Scarecrow how scary can you be?  You scared a ______, but you can't scare me!'.  This book was a fun one to see what they children came up with!  Our gingerbread book has not been completed yet, but each child will finish a page in the book with this template: 'Run, Run as fast as I can, ______can run faster than the gingerbread man.'  Students will also draw a picture to mach their writing.  I always help students fill in the book pages when/if they need assistance in writing.

Do you create class books?

Class books for preschool classrooms.

Class books for preschool classrooms.

Preschool Literacy Center

Ideas and resources for a preschool, pre-k or kindergarten literacy center.

Setting up preschool centers


Child sized bookshelf or tubs with books: Make sure the shelf is stable and does not pose a safety hazard.  I like the bookshelves that let the books face out.  It allows the covers of the books to attract children's attentions.

Books within different themes, genres and seasons: I love to find cheap used books at garage sales and consignment sales.  Also, you can try requesting books from former families in your program.  Some may have books that their child has out grown.  They may just happy to donate them to your classroom!

Quiet corner or nook: I like my literacy center to be in a corner or nook and to feel excluded from the hustle and bustle of the classroom.  I have found that some of my students like to go to the literacy center to get some quiet calm time.

Comfy places to sit or lay: Getting all curled up with a book is the best way, don't you agree?  Make the literacy center a relaxing place by adding kid sized chairs or beanbags.