So...I have been messing around with my schedule a bit lately, and have added an extra center time to the end of the day. This was probably one of the best ideas I have had in a long time. Unlike my literacy centers in the morning and my math centers after lunch, this end of the day center time is completely free choice (no checking the center board to see where I've assigned them).
My only rules for this "free choice" center time are:
1. No more than 3 kids at a center...because well...that is a recipe for disaster
2. Pick a center and stay at it (kinders would switch centers every 2 minutes if they could!)
3. Pick a different center than yesterday (this way everyone gets a chance at the more popular centers and I don't see the same kid at the blocks center everyday!)
I have found it so interesting to see what centers my students pick to go to at the end of the day since they have the freedom to choose. I let them pick from any of our literacy centers, any of our math centers, and any of our play centers (blocks, housekeeping, puppets, etc.).
It warms my heart to see kids who don't even know the entire alphabet yet pick the writing center because they have a "really important story to write" or want to "make a card for grandma." And luckily, those kiddos that don't know the whole alphabet or all their letter sounds yet sometimes pick the alphabet center and get some extra practice at those skills too!
We only have free choice centers for the last 20-25 minutes of our day-but it is very much worth it! The kids are engaged in lots of great learning and social skills practice and of course I get to do fun things like one-on-one assessments and catching kids up who missed projects.
I am very curious to hear what happens in your classroom after 3pm-can you get anything done?!