Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Standing Centers for a Little More Movement

Whether we give our kiddos opportunity to move because we know it grows their brains, or whether we help them move to combat the winter wiggles brought on when extra snow and subzero temps keep us inside, the name of the game is movement for learning! One way I provide that in my classroom is by having a Standing Center. On days when we aren't doing Motor Kids (see previous post), we designate one of our centers to be a standing center. Each of the five students in the group goes to a different spot in the room to do their work. Two of the stations have rocker boards to stand on, one has a balance board, one has an ordinary two by four, and one has a "log."

The rocker boards are at the window ledge counter and on top of the play refrigerator in our housekeeping area. These two spots are at an appropriate height for the kids to use when standing up on the rocker boards.

Our balance board offers slightly different movement than the back and forth motion of the rocker board. The balance board's spherical base lets kids move at 360 degrees. It is a great bargain at about $18 and you can find it here. We put the balance board at our pantry cupboard, where I prep snack each day. The kids know to stack our snack bowls out of the way.

The two by four is just that-- a piece of lumber about a foot long. The kids can stand with the balls of their feet on it while their heels bounce off. Or they place it vertically between their feet and step up and down, on and off, alternating feet. It is also at a window ledge counter.

And our fifth center is what we call 'the log." It is really a square cushion that I had lying around at home. I used an old bath towel to sew a tube, reinforcing the seam with many passes so it would not split. I folded the cushion in half and with Jonathan's help wrestled it into the tube. It is stuffed in tight enough that it doesn't go flat when a child is standing on it. They balance on this soft log surface as they stand and do their work at a shelf unit.

I assign the students a color by putting a small Post-it flag on their nameplates. These can be switched around when the seating is shuffled between tables periodically throughout the year.  Someone at each table has green, yellow, blue, orange, or pink. Children are assigned by color to one of the five stations. Every day that we do standing centers, I move the clip on our rotation chart to the next day, so in five days of standing center they get to stand at each station. The variety of surfaces requires kids to balance in slightly different ways, so it is important, and fun, to let them have turns at all the stations. Each one of the apparatuses is housed in it's own out of the way spot, and all the students know how to get them out and put them away again.

The only other thing that I need to be aware of in my planning is that the task assigned to standing center be a simple one-- usually one that involves writing on paper or a dry erase envelope. We do many hands-on, multi parts and pieces, types of centers, but those don't work well in our standing center model. The kids at standing center are spread out around the room and it is hard to have lots of materials available in five different places. Other than that, the set-up is pretty easy. And the kids LOVE it. To be able to stand for a fifteen minute rotation through our centers is a real treat. I am amazed at how independent and capable they are when they get to do this.

Note- there are just boys in these photos because our all boy table was doing Motor Kids when Jonathan came by with the camera. I wanted photos of standing center, too, so we just asked this group to switch over and get out other equipment, which they happily did. The girls like these centers every bit as much as the boys. I happen to have more boys than girls this year so I ended up with an all boy table grouping.

I have not found this particular model of standing center described anywhere else, but I know other teachers have been busy inventing various ways to do it. Please let me know if this works for you in the comments section below, and be sure to share how you do it. Variations on the theme are good to hear about!

The post Standing Centers for Large Muscle Engagement first appeared on kidpeopleclassroom.com

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