My New Centers Obsession

A few weeks ago I took the plunge and purchased brand new literacy centers from First Grade Fun Times. This was my fifth go at new centers during the past 13 weeks with my first graders and honestly I was expecting another failed attempt. I went ahead and just bought the November set and started the last week in October (since we take a full week for Thanksgiving), it took two days before I was completely sold and went ahead and bought the amazing bundle.
Please excuse my 19.99 carpet from the drugstore. First year teacher here!
I have been in no way shape or form paid for this review so here are my real unbias thoughts! All photos are from weeks 1-3 and the videos are week 2 or 3, the kids had never seen the centers in the videos as I wanted to show how self explanatory and straight forward the centers are.

I am lucky enough to have access to a school color printer, but was pleased to see that each center had both a color and BW option. To save ink I printed a few of the centers in black and white and used crayons to color them before laminating. A totally reasonable and great option if you do not have access to a color printer or just love to color. :) These centers do take a fair amount of prep in my opinion, but I also print, cut, laminate and re-cut each piece so they last. I'm sure it would be much easier to skip the laminating!

 My goal in using these centers was to create something that would last not only through the day but also stay organized and work next year as well! When I printed and laminated each center card and activities I simply placed them in a baggie labeled "November Centers, Week X, Day X" and then placed all the small baggies in a huge gallon bag labeled "November Centers." Such a quick and easy way to stay organized and make things work not only this year, but next year as well. Makes all the laminating totally worth it!

 My kiddos LOVED this non-fiction reader included in the centers. These books were the perfect level for my babies as well. I was a little worried as literacy is a *little* bit of an issue where I teach, but I was thrilled to see that the story was geared perfectly to about a 1.3-1.5 grade level.

Each day has 4 centers, a reading center, writing center, fluency center and word work center. This works perfectly to what the state of Mississippi wants us doing and works well with Daily 5! I love that many of the reading center activities can be done with the childrens own book, such an easy way to differentiate (especially since we use heterogeneous groups).
This sight word word search is used every Monday throughout the November centers. The children loved it and it was one less thing to explain!
One thing that always fell through in my class during centers was having children actually DO the centers. They would forget what to do, finish too early, get distracted and just cause mayhem. These centers are perfect for at least 20 minutes and completely engage every child. Most of the centers have child friendly directions either on a directions page or on a worksheet. My children were easily able to remember my demonstration and use their own instincts and reading skills to figure out what to do next.
Although some centers can be completed individually, there are centers that are to be done in groups. For example this game of turkey BINGO! One child will call out a word (such as sob seen above) and the other children place a marker on the vowel on their BINGO board. 

Another favorite is that the centers came with a check off sheet for the children to mark off as they went to each center. A great way for them to gain independence over their work! My groups are also color coded (green group right above and blue group in the picture above that). Students also have folders the same color as their group name where they put all their center work. I go through this work at lunch and students complete anything not done as an early finisher throughout the day.
The skills in each center are perfectly aligned to our Journey's curriculum and a great way to students to get hands on review. For example above they students pick a picture (such as six), place it on the turkey and then build the word. I had my students also write the word in a sentence because I am that teacher. ;) My kids also ADORED the tic-tac-toe reading and I was THRILLED to see it pops up again in the December centers!

The following are two videos of my students doing these centers for the first time with no direction at all. The first video is one of my higher students (who clearly overthinks at the end ;)) and the second is one of my lower students.

Phew! I know my voice in those videos, long day in our classroom. haha ANYWAY, just wanted to show these centers in a hands on way and sing the praises of First Grade Fun Times for revolutionizing the way we work in our class. Head on over to buy the bundle today, I promise you won't regret it!


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  2. Kelsey, you have totally made my day! I have been teaching for 16 years and was never able to find centers that would keep the "others" engaged, learning and having a bit of fun so I could get through my guided reading groups. I was so fortunate to hook up with Teresa Kwant who has Grab & Go Centers for upper elementary. I loved her ideas and the ease of the her layout and fortunately she was free to collaborate on this with me. There is some prep time, but the real goal was to make these so students could "grab them and go" to free the teacher up for meaningful, minimally interrupted small group lessons. Thank you again :) Alisa

  3. Thank you for the real life application of these centers with your students! I was really wanting to see that before I bought the bundle. Question... on the 5th day, do you do any sort of comprehensive test to gauge the students understanding?

    1. Jana-I don't do any sort of test based off the centers. These centers are usually reinforcement of concepts taught in the past (for example practice with verbs) and are things the children have been tested on. Now, I do give my babies a weekly test on Friday, just not based off these centers! This bundle does come with tracking slips for the kids to track what centers they have been to, I keep these in folders where the kids keep there work so they are accountable for what they do :)

  4. You are simply amazing... thank you for your posts