Friday, January 8, 2016

Rock Your Blocks Center!

My daughter has one of the best kindergarten teachers imaginable. She is caring, patient, and so imaginative. Her activities seem to seamlessly flow together, integrating all content areas. In short, she is amazing! 

One of the activities, that I really loved, was her newest addition to the blocks center. My daughter came home and told me that their "Blocks Center is really rocking the house!" That is high praise coming from my baby.
A few days later, I got to go in and see this "rocking" center for myself. It really is amazing. It's so amazing that I decided to put my own spin on it and share it with you! The center has pieces of felt (or foam) for different symbols on a map. All the pieces are hand cut and are just a quick shape in different colors. 
The center that I made includes: rivers, lakes, roads, houses, bushes, and trees. You can get a free copy of the map key here. 
Print out the key and cut out felt, then you have all you need to make "Interactive Maps"! Cut out some pictures from a magazine and label them for specific places in the community. Simple and fun! The part I love the most about this activity is that it can include math, writing, science, social studies, and so much more!
I wanted to include specific places in my version, so I went through my clip art and whipped up a few. I love how every map will be different and each child's personality can shine through.
When I started making our version at home, there were only straight roads. This created a lot of protesting from my kids. Thus, a variety of roads were created. They were right, it does make the maps more interesting and realistic.
As we played with the concept, I added task cards. This will allow kids to create maps with a model. It is really great for kids that have a difficult time starting an activity without direction. Sometimes, open ended play seems to overwhelm these children. Adding task cards with directions, allows these children to work from a task. AND task cards give kids practice reading numerals and using one-to-one correspondence. 
 I also made blank task cards, so that partners could create tasks for each other. It's more fun to do a friend's activity, than one provided by the teacher. Why not capitalize on their enthusiasm for "being the teacher"?
Adding onto the idea of "being the teacher", I love adding in partner games. Each child can have a turn 
I love adding a recording sheet to the activity, because it holds each child accountable for their learning and provides a physical record that is sent home to their parents. 
 One thing I so appreciate about my daughter's teacher is that every center has some written or physical component that comes home. I am able to infer from the directions, or completed project, what my daughter is doing that day. I am able to ask her more specific questions about her day, after looking over the work that comes home. It allows me to get more meaningful information about my daughter's learning that day.
I love having different recording sheets for the same activity. It can change the whole focus of the activity and it makes it very easy to differentiate.
 I hope you found some easy ideas to use with your kids. I love that you can just add felt and open up a whole new world...
Get your kids excited about maps and the parts of their community with these hands on activities. 
Make your own, or find mine here.
Head over to my blog, Differentiation Station Creations, to find some more activities to add your Blocks Center! 
Until next time, 

11 comments:

  1. My kids would love this! We will be learning about our community in a few weeks, and I can't wait to incorporate this. Thanks!

    Amanda
    A Very Curious Class

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  2. Super cute! I know my girls would love this center. Adding to my wish list.

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  3. Love this idea! My afternoon plans now include printing/laminating your packet and heading to michael's for felt.

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    1. That makes me smile :) Hope your kids love playing & learning!
      Laura

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  4. I love this post so much Laura! It's such an inspiration!!

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  5. Love this idea! Do you happen to have a copy of the worksheet that accompanied the center?

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    1. Sorry! I just saw this message! I have everything that is included in the center here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Interactive-Maps-2292199

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  6. Hi
    I do teacher training workshops. I am writing to ask permission to use the photo of your maps in the block center in a Power Point Presentation. I will credit your site and provide your URL.
    Please respond to: epostman3@cox.net

    I look forward to hearing from you.

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