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  #1  
Old 10-19-2017, 05:50 AM
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Default How To Get Them Stay In Centers

My guys have a hard time playing in the designated centers. I have a small room and small centers, but only seven kiddos. There's enough room in each center for 3 or 4 friends to play, but I have to constantly remind them to play in the center. If it's cars, they want to drive them all around the room. If theyre doing dramatic play, they usually take up dramatic play, manipulatives and quiet center too. It gets pretty disruptive and messy after a while.

All the boundaries are clearly marked with either a rug or furniture. What else can I do? I was thinking masking tape on the floor?
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Old 10-19-2017, 06:09 AM
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My guys have a hard time playing in the designated centers. I have a small room and small centers, but only seven kiddos. There's enough room in each center for 3 or 4 friends to play, but I have to constantly remind them to play in the center. If it's cars, they want to drive them all around the room. If theyre doing dramatic play, they usually take up dramatic play, manipulatives and quiet center too. It gets pretty disruptive and messy after a while.

All the boundaries are clearly marked with either a rug or furniture. What else can I do? I was thinking masking tape on the floor?
Try using time frames for center play.

Here each child chooses a colored bracelet. Each color represents a center. 2-4 bracelets for each center depending on what the center activity is.

All those with a blue bracelet are playing in the kitchen/housekeeping center.

Red bracelets are science center etc....

I set a timer. You must stay in your center until the timer goes off. If a child chooses to be done with a center before the timer goes off, they can put the bracelet back on the peg/hook it was on and sit and look at books until it's time to move on... I keep the bracelets in the book area.

I started with small increments of time in the beginning of the year as I know most kids don't understand the concept of 15 minutes or 45 minutes so I started small (10 minutes) then had them switch to a new center and a new bracelet color. Rinse and repeat until they've got the concept down!

For those that stray out of the center (driving cars outside the car center area) I would use a verbal reminder "Billy, where do the cars drive?" If he still leaves the car area I would say "Billy you are telling me you are finished playing cars. Please out your bracelet on the peg and go look at books until it's time to move to a new center"

Again, rinse and repeat.

Once we start this routine, the kids are all on board and understanding how to stay in centers (or indicate when done) by the end of the week so it won't take long. I have kids 1-5 yrs old so the littles follow the bigs and take their cues from them so it works well!
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Old 10-19-2017, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Blackcat31 View Post
Try using time frames for center play.

Here each child chooses a colored bracelet. Each color represents a center. 2-4 bracelets for each center depending on what the center activity is.

All those with a blue bracelet are playing in the kitchen/housekeeping center.

Red bracelets are science center etc....

I set a timer. You must stay in your center until the timer goes off. If a child chooses to be done with a center before the timer goes off, they can put the bracelet back on the peg/hook it was on and sit and look at books until it's time to move on... I keep the bracelets in the book area.

I started with small increments of time in the beginning of the year as I know most kids don't understand the concept of 15 minutes or 45 minutes so I started small (10 minutes) then had them switch to a new center and a new bracelet color. Rinse and repeat until they've got the concept down!

For those that stray out of the center (driving cars outside the car center area) I would use a verbal reminder "Billy, where do the cars drive?" If he still leaves the car area I would say "Billy you are telling me you are finished playing cars. Please out your bracelet on the peg and go look at books until it's time to move to a new center"

Again, rinse and repeat.

Once we start this routine, the kids are all on board and understanding how to stay in centers (or indicate when done) by the end of the week so it won't take long. I have kids 1-5 yrs old so the littles follow the bigs and take their cues from them so it works well!
Making bracelets now!! Thanks!
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Old 10-19-2017, 08:11 AM
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Making bracelets now!! Thanks!
This also helps with visually letting kids know if a center is full or has available space.

If there are no blue bracelets, the housekeeping center is full. If there are 2 red bracelets on the hook there is space for 2 kids to be in that area... etc.

Using this method allows the kids (even those that are younger) to navigate classroom rules for center play. It helps them understand limits as well as staying focused until a specific time is up.

I have never had a child not be able to grasp or understand the concept of using bracelets.
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Old 10-19-2017, 10:43 AM
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I'm having to learn to let centers intermix and believe me after 20 years its not easy but I'm trying to learn.

Blocks usually end up in the dramatic play area to build houses for the play figures we have there and then they need to drive so cars become intermixed in the area.

Baby dolls go to the library/quiet area to be read to along with maybe a few stuffed animals.

Play figures also go to the writing area because clothes are being designed for them or pictures made for the doll house.

No one ever knows where the little ponies or dinosaurs will end up-they have minds of their own
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  #6  
Old 10-19-2017, 10:56 AM
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I let them intermix as well. For me, the key to allowing it is to make sure that I don't have too many toys in each center. Also, the children need to clean their items when they're finished.
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Old 10-19-2017, 11:06 AM
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I'm having to learn to let centers intermix and believe me after 20 years its not easy but I'm trying to learn.

Blocks usually end up in the dramatic play area to build houses for the play figures we have there and then they need to drive so cars become intermixed in the area.

Baby dolls go to the library/quiet area to be read to along with maybe a few stuffed animals.

Play figures also go to the writing area because clothes are being designed for them or pictures made for the doll house.

No one ever knows where the little ponies or dinosaurs will end up-they have minds of their own
I have no issues with kids mixing toys when playing during open play or free play. It's good for supporting creativity.

The issue with centers is that each center is designed for a specific goal or learning experience.

I put a good deal of thought, preparation and work into setting up centers and managing them. It's one time the items or materials aren't allowed to be mixed with other centers. This is good for learning boundaries, limitations and expectations.
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Old 10-19-2017, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Blackcat31 View Post
I have no issues with kids mixing toys when playing during open play or free play. It's good for supporting creativity.

The issue with centers is that each center is designed for a specific goal or learning experience.

I put a good deal of thought, preparation and work into setting up centers and managing them. It's one time the items or materials aren't allowed to be mixed with other centers. This is good for learning boundaries, limitations and expectations.
Blackcat, do you do your "center time" in the same room as your "free play time"? What do you call each of those times of day? How much time do you spend in Center time and Free play time each day? Thanks!
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  #9  
Old 10-19-2017, 11:53 AM
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Why do the centers need to stay separate, and why can only a certain number of children be in each center? Not judging, just wondering...

My stress level went WAY down once I stopped trying to keep toys/children separate and let them play wherever they wanted and take the toys wherever they want (within the 2 child care rooms). I feel much more relaxed now that I'm not trying to be the Toy Police all the time.

Just something to think about...
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Old 10-19-2017, 11:59 AM
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At the daycare I work at, we have two rooms. One room we eat in [snacks and lunch] and another room we just play in and nap in. We also do some playing in the lunch/snack room too but it's more of manipulative play.

Our Center play is from 9:45-10:45 every morning and 3-4 every afternoon. We also have a bit of a problem with the kids keeping the cars in the car area but what we found works is giving them two warnings and the third time they come out of the car area, they have to put their toys away and either do a puzzle or color for a little bit before trying again.

We have to have a limited number in each area because some days we have 10-14 in the morning in there and all in one area doesn't work. So we stick to 3 to an area unless they are coloring.

I do like the bracelet idea to but I'm going to change it to a superhero thing. I.E: Three Batmans in the car area. THree Supermen in the block area, three catgirls in the house area, etc.
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  #11  
Old 10-19-2017, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by kendallina View Post
Blackcat, do you do your "center time" in the same room as your "free play time"? What do you call each of those times of day? How much time do you spend in Center time and Free play time each day? Thanks!
I have an entire house just for daycare so space is not an issue here.
Infants/ toddlers have a separate area from the preschool aged kids.

Free play is when the kids are free to play what they want and in whatever manner they want.
Mixing toys, materials etc... and they are free to go to and from whatever area they want.

"Centers" are areas set up with a specific goal in mind. Such as a science experiment about colors and mixing. The educational or academic outcome is purposeful. In a science center with the goal of learning about color mixing, I would use materials that help the children learn that goal. Beakers, colored water, play-doh in primary colors, cards that have visual directions or experiment suggestions etc...
A stethoscope from the health center has no purpose in that particular science area...kwim?

I have center time M,W and F's and for 30-45 minutes each.
On T/Th's I also have centers set up but for the infant/toddlers.
On the opposite days, the age group not using centers have free play.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AmyKidsCo View Post
Why do the centers need to stay separate, and why can only a certain number of children be in each center? Not judging, just wondering...

My stress level went WAY down once I stopped trying to keep toys/children separate and let them play wherever they wanted and take the toys wherever they want (within the 2 child care rooms). I feel much more relaxed now that I'm not trying to be the Toy Police all the time.

Just something to think about...
Because the centers are set up with a specific goal in mind and that goal is rarely reached when there are more than 3 kids in a center.

I think you are under the impression I am talking about play in general. Centers are what I use for actual learning/academic goals. (It's more fun and more beneficial than seat time...)

We have lots of free play and I love it but I also participate in my state's QRIS program and because of that I also have academic goals I need to meet for school readiness and I can not stand the thought of written lessons and work sheets for these little people.

I think the confusion is in what each person's definition of centers are... I am not talking about areas of my daycare such as the block area or the book area etc...

Yesterday in our math center we used marshmallows to practice counting, sorting and pattern recognition. If I allowed the kids to take the marshmallows to another center, it would be a mess and isn't necessary.

It's no different than a child in math class not being allowed to practice their dribbling skills for basket ball at the same time.

Last edited by Blackcat31; 10-19-2017 at 12:26 PM.
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Old 10-21-2017, 02:06 PM
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ah bracelets! I did something similar with monkeys. There were 3 monkeys per area. If there was a free dot, you could put your monkey there and play. If not, find another area. for the first week, If a child was caught in a area without there monkey that had to go to the tree (reading area) for a few minutes. They caught on really quick and would remind each other to take there monkey with them to a new area. Worked out really well. No arguing, no fighting. It really turned my room around.
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Old 10-23-2017, 10:55 AM
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Just wanted to say that was a brilliant idea. The play was much more meaningful this morning because they weren't just running all around the room in a big group. The bracelets definitely reminded them to stay in the areas.

I also took the advice of giving a minimum time (15 mins) and I had an ice cream shop with one person making the scoops and the other person making the cones in playdough. As opposed to take all the playdough stuff out, squish the playdough for 45 seconds and then go to another center.

Additionally, it forced some kids who usually don't play together. I usually have all the girls together playing some sort of mommy-and-baby scenario, and all my boys together center-hopping. Since they couldn't all fit in certain centers, they had to make some different choices about what and who to play with.

Thanks for the idea, BC!!!
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Old 10-23-2017, 11:54 AM
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Just wanted to say that was a brilliant idea. The play was much more meaningful this morning because they weren't just running all around the room in a big group. The bracelets definitely reminded them to stay in the areas.

I also took the advice of giving a minimum time (15 mins) and I had an ice cream shop with one person making the scoops and the other person making the cones in playdough. As opposed to take all the playdough stuff out, squish the playdough for 45 seconds and then go to another center.

Additionally, it forced some kids who usually don't play together. I usually have all the girls together playing some sort of mommy-and-baby scenario, and all my boys together center-hopping. Since they couldn't all fit in certain centers, they had to make some different choices about what and who to play with.

Thanks for the idea, BC!!!
Thatís awesome!

Kids/play definitely can be chaotic from time to time and thatís great but its important to have some form of order too!

Glad it worked well for you!
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Old 10-23-2017, 08:23 PM
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I think the confusion is in what each person's definition of centers are... I am not talking about areas of my daycare such as the block area or the book area etc...
Yep, I was thinking of "centers" as housekeeping area, block area, etc. What you call "centers" I call "planned activity." Tomato, Tomahto, Potato, Potahto....
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Old 10-24-2017, 07:50 AM
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Yep, I was thinking of "centers" as housekeeping area, block area, etc. What you call "centers" I call "planned activity." Tomato, Tomahto, Potato, Potahto....
Yes! Exactly!

I thought it was clear as mud.
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Old 10-24-2017, 11:48 AM
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I love the bracelet idea. Are they required to move centers when the timer goes off or can they stay where they're at if they are having fun? I would hate to stop a child if they are really involved in what they are doing, but I could also see popular centers never being available if they don't have to move. I also have a few very "clicky" 5 yr olds and I could see one of them not playing if she is not with her BFF. She would talk her friend into also giving up her bracelet so they could sit in the book corner together until the timer goes off...but I would LOVE to separate them!
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Old 10-24-2017, 12:03 PM
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I love the bracelet idea. Are they required to move centers when the timer goes off or can they stay where they're at if they are having fun? I would hate to stop a child if they are really involved in what they are doing, but I could also see popular centers never being available if they don't have to move. I also have a few very "clicky" 5 yr olds and I could see one of them not playing if she is not with her BFF. She would talk her friend into also giving up her bracelet so they could sit in the book corner together until the timer goes off...but I would LOVE to separate them!
I don't require them to move if they don't want to, but I also don't let the same kids go to the same centers every time. Like I had two boys that spent the entire morning in in sensory center this morning, so they won't be able to choose that center again til tomorrow because it only accomodates two kids.

I only have three girls and they are sort of cliquey, and I didn't like that they turned any and all toys into a "mommy and baby" game. What has helped me is that they arrived pretty staggered in the morning so usually one is already in a center that the other two can't fit in. And if one chooses not to play because she can't get into the center with the others (or can't get the pink/purple bracelets) then I let her, but I don't allow her to involve anyone else it. It doesn't last long

ETA: We do free play in the early morning and early evening so its not always this teacher-directed. This is just during centers.
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