Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Free-Choice Activity Rotation for Preschoolers

The one-minute warning bell rings, signaling to students and teachers that the school day is about to begin. As students scramble to their lines, teachers meander through the hallways, eagerly stalling their arrival. Line leaders shush the students in their lines, trying to get everyone in order. Some leading from the front, while others pull up the rear, teachers steer their students into the hallways, where the ruckus echoes throughout the school, filling the air with energy and motion. One-by-one, classroom doors close, leaving an eerie silence lingering in the hallways. 

As students settle into their desks, retrieving necessary supplies from their backpacks, they begin working quietly on their morning tasks, while the teacher takes attendance and lunch count. Some students finish early and take out their science questions, tending to the assignment expectations, allowing the teacher time to check student homework. 

Fast-forward four years and you would never know I once possessed the knowledge and panache to manage over thirty fifth and sixth graders during our morning routine. For over twelve years, I balanced independent quiet time with hushed collaborative activities to ensure I had ample time to get through my required morning duties. 

Working with one adorable preschooler, however, frazzled this organized, structured teacher to the point of frustration! Every morning, I was scrambling to come up with engaging, meaningful learning activities for my son, while at the same time trying to juggle my morning responsibilities. 

After much trial and error, I finally came up with a morning free-choice activity schedule that allows my son to work independently on most of the activities, while I get my morning tasks completed, like checking emails and attending to my social media campaign.

My first consideration was variety. I wanted my son to have choices but to also work on each of the three core subjects: reading, writing, and math. I listed independent learning activities for these three subjects and then then created mini-cards with one activity from each subject. Every morning, my son pulls one of these cards from a box. While I set up his activities, he reads quietly or plays in his room. 

Here is a look at one free-choice activity rotation. On this particular day's card, the following activities were listed: 
  • Playing Card Patterns for Math

  • Free-choice Reading Corner for Reading

With the three core subjects covered on the card, I also set out a couple of extracurricular activities, such as a Lego station and a technology corner:

I incorporate content writing activities on some mornings, such as journal writing and sentence strips. Currently, my son is working on a super hero story, reciting one chapter at a time, complete with illustrations :-)

This free-choice activity rotation fits nicely into our Morning Routine, making our mornings more enjoyable and productive!