Literacy Workstations

I am excited to blog about our second day of Literacy Workstations! This summer, I spent a lot of time reorganizing my Reading Centers. I wanted the students to have “more buy-in” and more choice. First, I renamed Reading Centers….. they are now Literacy Workstations. Next I made an organizational Smart Notebook for our Literacy Workstations time that is interactive and personalized for the students. This is what I came up with:

Each rotation lasts approximately 12-15 minutes.  Once completed, I move the children’s pictures to their next center, and they begin the next rotation. Being that it is only Day 2 of Literacy Workstations, students are trying out each activity. Once they have a clear understanding of how each activity works, I will begin to add more activities to the independent parts of our Workstations. The activities include:

Through these workstations, every student receives differentiated instruction from both me and my Instructional Assistant. Many of the independent workstations are differentiated as well.

Students were listening to beginning sounds and then recording the sound that they heard.

Students listened to a book on CD. Listening to books on CD helps students build comprehension, phonics, and tracking skills.

Students found beginning sound puzzle pieces in our sensory table that they matched to the corresponding letters.

Students sounded out CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words and found the picture to match.

In another workstation, students used playdough to demonstrate number sense….not quite a literacy skill, but we were practicing how to use playdough as part of a Literacy Workstation!

I will post more as the students explore each of the activities I have developed for Literacy Workstations. We are off to a GREAT start!

Differentiation is Dynamite!

One of the reasons I love my job is that I have the freedom to teach grade-level skills in creative and innovative ways. A goal of mine each day is to differentiate the skills that I teach in a way that each student is engaged and challenged at their perfect level. I am constantly looking for ideas and activities that lend themselves to differentiation.

I hit the jackpot recently with this math activity. We have been learning about the number grid, discovering number patterns on the grid, focusing on the order of the rows and columns and the numbers within them. We practiced ordering numbers, identifying numbers before and after, counting by twos, fives, tens, and we even dove into the concept of place value. As a final activity, I printed out a picture from a recent field trip and put a number grid from 1-120 on top of it.

My original idea was to cut apart the grid so that the students could reassemble it. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this activity lended itself perfectly to differentiation. For my student who is struggling to count and order numbers greater than 40, I cut the puzzle into six larger pieces. For my student who has surpassed the kindergarten goal of counting and ordering numbers to 120, I cut the puzzle into two dozen intricate pieces.

I was thrilled with the outcome of the activity! Each student found success completing the number grid at the level that was appropriate for them.

Differentiating for Language Arts is just as important. In the activity below, students read a long vowel word and matched it to the image it represented. Students who finished were asked to then place the words in alphabetical order.

In addition to meeting students at their specific reading level during classroom instruction, I also differentiate the books that students take home nightly to read.

Here is an additional snapshot of an activity that I was able to differentiate. Students chose a card with a picture on it.

This card shows planet.

They then had to color in the blend (in this case “pl”) on the recording sheet. Students who were ready for more were asked to spell the word using their best guess spelling.

Differentiation in kindergarten is incorporated into our daily routine. From our Morning Exploring tubs, to Reading Centers, to Math Centers, and even our special thematic notebooks, students have daily opportunities to extend their learning.




Math Centers

I have found over the past almost 20 years of my teaching career (eek!) that centers are truly the most efficient, exciting, and helpful way for students to engage in learning. Creating small group activities allows me to differentiate my teaching (and students’ learning) to best fit the needs of ALL my learners. Attaching a theme to these activities always allows for greater buy-in and interest from the students and keeps the skill learning fun. So far this year, the kindergarten students have engaged in Reading Centers daily for the past 25 days of school. Additionally, Morning Exploring is a time when smaller groups of students engage in a fine motor activities with a math focus. This time not only allows me to assess students’ learning, but it also gives me a chance to pull students one at a time to instruct them on reading. So much can be accomplished during small group/center time.

So why not add Math Centers to the mix?! We did so today! Students were introduced to nine Math Centers that work on skills like identifying teen numbers, ordering numbers, measuring using nonstandard units, building numbers using a tens frame, and solving addition equations. Each of the math centers can be differentiated three ways to meet the needs of all my learners. I was not surprised to see the students LOVING their first day of Math Centers!

A student measures items using unifix cubes. She then records the information.

A student matches a teen number to a double tens frame.

Students count the number of each school supply and record the information.

Students ready for a challenge use the information from the first sheet and add the school supplies together.

A student places number cards in order and then hides a small picture behind one of the numbers.

The other student says a number aloud and peeks to see if the hidden picture is behind that number.

Students use a magnifying glass to find numbers that are hidden in pictures. They record that number as well as the number that comes before and after.

Students identify and extend patterns.

Students identify a number and record the four numbers that come next.

These activities have the students begging for more! They would have completed all nine in one day if I had let them!

Differentiated Math Centers

Students explored our differentiated math centers for the first time last week. And they LOVED it!  All of the centers had a “Back to School” theme. The skills included measuring with nonstandard units, identifying numbers, number order, counting on a double tens frame, and identifying numbers that come before or after a specific number.

As you may know, a goal of mine this year is to differentiate each center activity to at least two or three different levels. (I have become the master of cutting, pasting, and editing the activities that I have in order to add more challenge, while keeping the graphics the same.) Below are some examples of the centers that were explored.


A student uses a magnifying glass to locate a hidden number. He then recorded the number in the box on the blue paper and wrote down the numbers that come before and after. This activity was differentiated three ways….in one set, students identified numbers 0-10, the next set was 12-50, and the final way was to identify numbers 50-100.


This student measures the school supplies by using nonstandard units of measurement. Students can also measure using a standard unit of measurement – a ruler.


In this patterning center, students identified and extended patterns…an activity that is easily differentiated by making the patterns more challenging.

I had fun observing the centers in action….and I am happy to report they were far more successful than the matching game we tried to play at Parents’ Night!


I am always looking for new ways to differentiate activities for all learners. Yesterday students participated in a rhyming center as part of the independent reading center activity. This ice cream themed center was perfect for differentiation. Students matched a picture on the come to the picture on the scoop of ice cream that rhymed. To take this activity one step further, a scoop of ice cream with a word typed out on it that rhymes with the others was added.


Another example occurred this morning when I introduced the letter c. First we watched our Story Bots clip and brainstormed words that begin with the /c/ sound.

Then I wrote the letter combinations ch, ce, ci, and cy and told the students that the letter c also makes these sounds. (Crazy, I know!) I provided them with examples like chimney, cent, circus, etc. Next, they watched this video.  I can’t say enough positive things about the PBS show Between the Lions. (Please excuse the quality of the video….I couldn’t find one with a working link, so I recorded using my phone.)

The end result is that those children who are learning the hard c sound have been exposed to the additional spellings and sounds the letter makes, while those students who are ready for more enjoy the challenge of recognizing and using these spelling patterns in the books they are reading and the writing they are engaged in in class.