How Do You… Stations Questions Answered (I hope)

From time to time, I get questions about how I manage my station, let’s see if I can answer some of them.
Disclaimer:  I am still taking photos with my iPhone.  My good camera is in the camera hospital.

How do you manage where your students will go?

Station Management ideas for kindergarten.  Want you students to work independently?  Here are a few ideas.
This is my work board.  It is no longer made by Really Good Stuff, but HERE is one that I think might be similar.  It hangs on the wall.  One side has my literacy stations, the other side has math stations.  I simply flip it over.  (Do you see the awesome gourds one of my students brought in?)
I have 2 students to a station… but sometimes I have students work alone.  Usually my lone rangers are because they have had trouble working cooperatively.  This is usually my version of a partner “time out.”  I try to keep this time out temporary.   My experience has taught me that 3 is a crowd.  I know other teachers have better luck with larger groups, but I prefer 2 to a station.
Students work at their “blue station” for about 15-20 minutes.  We regroup at the close of the blue station.  Then the students work in their yellow station.   I do not have them go directly from the blue to the yellow without meeting at the carpet first.  This gives my students time to problem solve (AKA: tattle) and verbalize what type of learning took place at their station.  By the end of the day my students have completed 2 literacy stations and 2 math stations.  You can find the FREE station cards here.
You might notice that my literacy stations have a little picture (ie scarecrow),  this is how I call my reading groups.
When the day is over, I move the cards down (the student photos do not move).  This takes me literally 1 minute to do.  If I pull students for a small group during that station activity, they just miss that station activity.  I used to try to schedule it all… Goodness!  I do not have that type of brainpower.   Their most powerful learning is with me, so I do not stress about it anymore… plus, they love coming to my table so their rarely complain.

Whoa!  You have so many stations!  How do you teach them all of them each week?

Station Management ideas for kindergarten.  Want you students to work independently?  Here are a few ideas.
1 & 2 Writing Work Station 3 Stamping Words 4  Roll and write activities (just bump it up with a variety of dice)
I don’t!  I keep the stations predictable.  Once I have taught my students the activities, then I just need to replace the materials they use in that station.  My students have been working at the writing station and the stamping station for WEEKS.  I do not need to teach them what to do there.   We have been doing roll and trace (write) activities as well.  No explanation needed.

How do they remember what to do at that station?

Station Management ideas for kindergarten.  Want you students to work independently?  Here are a few ideas.
I provide “I Can…” charts.  Here is my vision of  “Classroom Utopia”.. I want students who can look at the materials and with confident independence, decipher the task.  I do not want to be the person that spoon-feeds their learning.   When they ask me what to do at a station, I just say, “What do you think you do?”  9 times out of 10 they can tell me.  Why would I want to enable dependence?  They can do it, if you give them the opportunity to problem solve.  These are from my Fun for Fall Stations.

How do you get them to work the whole time?

Station Management ideas for kindergarten.  Want you students to work independently?  Here are a few ideas.
1 & 2 Fun for Fall 3 & 4 Caught in the Web Freebie
Make it engaging… and keep it within their zone of proximal development. They were FREAKING OUT with these spider rings!  The BEST $1 spent at Wal-Mart EVER!

How do you keep them accountable to the work?

Station Management ideas for kindergarten.  Want you students to work independently?  Here are a few ideas.
1.  When the students complete their station, they put their papers in the black magazine bins.  The shapes on the bins correspond to their table shape. 2 & 3 Several times a week, I have the students take the bins and sort the papers, so their papers are on their desk.  If there are no names, the papers go in the recycling…THE END!  No Name = No Reward 4.  Then I walk around and “grade” their work.  If a solid effort was made, they get a smile on their paper and a punch on their card.   5 punches=Jolly Rancher.   All of the stars punched = treasure box.
This will be a two-part answer.
First I expect them to do the work.  “No monkey business” is my mantra.
You can get the Star Punch Card at the end of this post.

How do you get them to do quality work?

Station Management ideas for kindergarten.  Want you students to work independently?  Here are a few ideas.
1.  I have this chart posted in my classroom.  Students refer to it all the time.  I can also direct students to look at the chart if I notice their work does not appear to be done to the best of their ability. 2.  Under the chart I have student examples.  They work hard to make the wall!
I provide exemplars.
You can find the anchor chart #1, plus a ton more by clicking: Anchor Charts
Want to see what my stations are this week?  Click here.
Want to get your own lesson plan template?  Click here.  The lesson plan template is in my Facebook Fan Freebie File.  It will be in Power Point and you will need to download it and add your own fonts.
Spinners can be found HERE.
WHEW!  I think that should answer the bulk of the questions I get.
What did I forget?
I can add to this post!


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Deedee Wills

Deedee Wills

My teaching career allowed me to experience teaching in different classroom environments and grades. My heart belongs to early childhood education. My job is to make teaching FUN, ENGAGING, and EASIER. Welcome!

Hi, I'm DeedeE.

My teaching career allowed me to experience teaching in different classroom environments and grades. My heart belongs to early childhood education. My job is to make teaching FUN, ENGAGING, and EASIER. Welcome!

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40 Responses

  1. I love this!! .. If you ever decide to give a workshop on centers, I would love to sign up. Thank you again. I follow your blogs and my kiddos love your writing center activities. I keep them in a binder, but I love your idea of having it hung up to see. Thank you again and I am serious about that workshop thing.

    1. Thank you!!! I do some presenting for SDE. This year I will be in Ohio, Georgia, New Jersey, and Chicago. Are you near any of these places?

  2. Love it! I do stations very similarly–last year was my first year (kinder) and I did plan it all so that they wouldn't miss any stations while at my table….and you're right, that was crazy. I already decided I'm not going to drive myself nuts like that again this year–I don't have the brainpower to deal with it either! I have 5 stations though, with 3-4 kids in a group. I have seen other teachers who do 2 kids in a group and 12 stations, but what I don't get is how you choose the material for those stations. I try to keep most of my stations current with the week's objectives–I realize I could just do review stations, but then if I do want them to work independently on something we're currently learning, I can't put that into the station rotation or else some kids will get it that week and others won't get it till later. That bothers me. ๐Ÿ™‚ Have you figured out a way to make that work, or do you literally just rotate your stations every 12 school days and make sure that it's all review material?

    Thanks for the tips!

    1. Hi Anna,

      Great question! I try to keep all of the station activities as review. So they will work on skills that have already been introduced, but I want them to practice more. I feel that skills such as rhyming, initial sounds, handwriting should be overlearned. The same is true for number sense skills. I hope that helps.

  3. Thank you, Deedee, for this post. I'm in the midst of revamping my stations so this was very timely. One question, when you make the paper dice, do you laminate the paper and do you stuff the cube with cotton? Thanks, again.

    1. I laminate the dice. Then I cut them out and tape them together with regular tape. THEN I take clear box tape and wrap the whole thing with it. They seem to hold up for a few year that way.

  4. Thank you for the detailed post! One question, though: how many students do you have? Trying to figure out how all those kiddos can be in those little groups.

    1. This year I just have 18, but I have done this type of station rotation with a larger group. Right now I am set up for up to 24 without needing to add any more stations.

  5. Hey Deedee very interesting post, glad I teach K4, I would be overwhelmed with keeping track of all that paper with my 2 classes. ๐Ÿ™‚ I do have a question that I asked a few days ago that I am still wondering about…. I am curious though, when you say you printed and laminated your fall unit you made, is that something you do at home at your cost, or are you able to do that at school at the schools cost? Thanks.

    1. Hi there! I remember your question and I had thought I answered it… sorry!

      I print and laminate at home at my own cost. We do not have a color printer at school… Well… I have my own color printer at school, but I maintain all of the cost there as well.

    2. No problem, thanks for answering. I love all the activities you and so many others make and I have always been curious to who is paying for all that printing and laminating. I am fortunate that I have limited access to those things at school so I am very selective in what I print and laminate. I use a little bit more of hands on type concrete materials that I have collected over the last 25 years of teaching than worksheet recording types of games. I only have my kids 2 1/2 hours a day so my small group activities (similar to centers) rotate over 3 days. I am also tied to a district wide specific literacy and math curriculum that I have to use, so that too limits how much I can change things up, but when I see a great idea in your room I love to use it even if it is modified or as a part of some higher level differentiated learning that takes place with my students. Thanks again for highlighting so many great teaching activities and helping us readers get a glimpse of what is going on in your classroom. It is greatly appreciated!

  6. Hi Deedee!
    Thanks so much for all the "freebies" ! I continue to follow you throught the years and have pruchased many of your ideas! You ar AMAZING! I appreciate the details about your centers and of course, your lesson plans. On the chart for centers, what is the difference between the Word Study A , B and C? Are these the different levels in the classroom or your guided reading groups? I probably didn't read it correctly!! Thank you again for your time and wodnerful ideas!
    [email protected]

    1. Thank you Maryann. The A, B, and C are just 3 different word study activities. Each student will rotate through these.

      I hope that helps!

    1. We use Wilson as our school-wide key-letter program… so that A Apple /a/ is the same for K-5. But we have found that it does not meet our needs, so we do not the program from cover to cover. Does that make sense?

  7. This is simply the best post I've ever read! I am new to first grade and I am having such trouble making centers work in my room. I love the visuals, I love the workstations chart and how easy it is to maintain. I have just started to do my weekly visual plans with your linky party and this week went so smoothly for me. I have so much fun making my lessons look visually pleasing and it motivates me to plan ahead. Luckily I have a color printer in my classroom and free range on the laminator because I have been trying all different things lately, and nothing seems to work just right. I am going to give this a try. THANK YOU for this post! Have a great weekend and I'll be linking up for Visual Plans again this week.

    If You Give a Teacher a Treat

  8. Deedee, Thank you for such a detailed post. I am a full believer in work stations but have only conquered math. My goal is to wet my feet with literacy this year and be up and running in the fall. My struggle has always been, how and when to meet with small groups? Do you meet with all of your children in small group each day? I'd love more guidance on the small group aspect of your literacy time.

    Thanks for such a wonderful post!! Christin
    Shifting Teacher K-2

    1. I don't meet with all of my students in reading groups everyday. I meet with two groups a day during my literacy station time, then I make sure I meet with my intervention students again each day during my math station time. I hope that helps!

    2. Ok, that is helpful. I am hoping to start modeling things this week with my kids so that next week we can try to start a literacy center rotation.

      Thank you so much for your help and guidance!!

  9. I was very excited to find this post because I struggle with centers. Then, I found out that the pocket chart has been discontinued ๐Ÿ™

    1. I honestly am not sure. I feel you will have some that can do it, while others may not be able to. I would maybe break it down to colored stations. For example: Partner 1 and 2 go to a blue station, Partner 3 and 4 go to the green station… I feel like that would be easier for them to follow.

  10. I am so excited to start using centers this year! But how do you keep all of your supplies organized and stored??

  11. Are your stations differentiated? At our school, we are asked to differentiate the stations based on students individual needs. I am looking for ideas and tips on how others manage this.

    1. Many of the activities have multiple levels of activity. Sometimes the differentiation is in the product students produce.

  12. Iโ€™m sorry if this was answered and I overlooked it. How often do you change out activities? And am I correct in assuming the centers have multiple choices so they can do slightly different activities when they visit as a โ€œblueโ€ vs โ€œgreenโ€ station?

  13. During your literacy stations where do you put all your games and activities that the kids use during that time and how many activities do you have available to them at each station at a time? During your math stations it looks like each student has one activity they do and then rotate to the 2nd activity, any choices during math?

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