We have one week down and two weeks to go for ESY. It’s flying by! We’ve found our groove and I’m loving our schedule (shared below). But even more, I’m loving the time spent in centers! Our centers are easy and play-based, but simple to set up! Here’s some of our favorite activities this past week.
Our Routine and Schedule
Before we dig into activities, I thought I’d share our schedule. It’s simple, and it works. We have a theme for the week that is kid-centered and highly reinforcing based off my students’ interests. As a reminder, I teach K-2. This past week was Dinosaurs. Most students are grouped into 2 students per teacher/assistant. We start the day with Morning Meeting, jump into a 30 minute work session (this is typically broken up into 10-15 minutes of direct instruction per student), then we go to recess, then do another 30 minute work session. From there we have snack, a last round of work sessions, then 30 minutes of centers (3 centers, 10 minutes per center), social skills/closing, then it’s time to go! PHEW! It’s a whirlwind and goes QUICK. Over the next few blogs I’ll share more about our day, but for now let’s get into centers!
Each day consisted of 3 centers. Two were play-based, and one was skill practice. Student rotate centers after 10 minutes. I shared a quick overview of an academic skill, social skill, and fine motor skill (if addressed) targeted with each play-based center. Add a social skill easily by making it a partnered activity and work on turn taking, sharing, etc. There are a million things you can do with the items listed below, but the ones I’m sharing were favorites for the week!
Here’s the materials and what I prepped for Dinosaur Centers this week:
Play Doh or Salt Dough (homemade works!)
Plastic Dinosaur Skeletons and Dinos (Style ‘B’ Found Here https://www.amazon.com/UPINS-Dinosaur-Skeletons-Educational-Decorations/dp/B09Z6DCNC9/ref=sr_1_5?crid=2EFZK08B61J4C&keywords=dinosaur%2Bskeletons&qid=1655063414&sprefix=dinosaur%2Bske%2Caps%2C95&sr=8-5&th=1)
Sand or kinetic sand (I used Kinetic Beach sand – it’s cheaper! https://www.amazon.com/Only-Kinetic-Sand-Beach-Packaging/dp/B019K8KIUY )
Dinosaurs In Our World Adapted Book https://shop.theautismhelper.com/products/adapted-dinosaur-book-great-for-children-with-autism?_pos=1&_sid=e1f15f8ff&_ss=r (print extra pieces!)
Wind-Up Dinosaurs (https://www.target.com/p/6ct-dinosaur-wind-up-toy-spritz-8482/-/A-54241271#lnk=sametab )
Yardstick or tape measure
Markers, crayons, pencil, etc.
Masking or Painters Tape
Wind Up Dinosaur Race
Materials: Masking/Painters Tape, Wind up Dinos, Markers, pencils, etc
Create a starting line, and have student ‘race’ their wind up dinosaurs. Have them measure how far each dinosaur went until it stopped!
Social Skills Targeted: win/loss tolerance, turn taking
Academic skills: predicting (how long will it go? Who will win? Which dino is the fastest?), measurement
Fine Motor: Turning the wind up knob, tearing tape for the starting line, writing
Materials: Construction Paper, paint, plastic dinos, marker
Have students dip their dinosaur’s feet in paint and ‘walk’ their dinosaurs across construction paper. Observe the differences in the dinosaur prints. Optional: have them copy the dinosaur name to match the feet
Academic Skills: Observation, predicting (why some dinosaur feet are large and some are small)
Fine Motor: Copying dino name, spatial planning
Materials: Construction paper, markers, paint, plastic dinos
Have students build a dinosaur a habitat. You can get as in-depth as you want with this, making it an easy 10 minute activity or a 3 day project, it’s really up to you and your student needs. Optional: Research a specific dinosaur and make that specific habitat.
Academic Skills: Showing understanding of habitats
Fine Motor: cutting, gluing, coloring, painting
Materials: Sand or Kinetic Sand (I prefer kinetic because it sticks together and doesn’t make a mess), dinosaur skeletons, paint brushes
Bury the dinosaurs and have students pretend to be a paleontologist. Give them paintbrushes to carefully remove the sand and find the skeletons. Have students compare and match the skeleton they found to different dinosaurs and have them label the skeletons.
Academic Skills: Matching, observation, labeling
Fine Motor: grasping with the paint brush, using finger strength to ‘dig’ the dinos out of the sand
Dinos in Our Word Patterns
Materials: Dinos In Our World Adapted Book, Extra book pieces
Read the adapted book, then use the extra pieces to make a pattern and have the students finish the pattern. Make these as difficult or as easy as needed!
Academic Skills: Decoding, comprehension, patterning
Fine Motor: hand strength to pull pieces on/off
Materials: play doh or salt dough, dinosaur skeletons, construction paper, markers. Optional: paint
Have students flatten play doh with fingers or palm of hand and make a flat area. Press the dinosaur skeleton into the play doh to reveal a fossil. Students can repeat with different skeletons. For students who finish quickly or needs more engagement, press a dino into the play doh and have them guess the skeleton that matches. Optional: have students set play doh or salt dough out to dry after making a fossil. Once dry, paint.
Social Skills: Turn Taking
Academic Skills: Observation, matching
Materials: Dinosaur Skeletons and matching plastic Dinosaurs
Have students match the skeletons to the dinosaurs and vice versa. Make this task easier and harder by increasing/decreasing the number of choices given.
Academic Skills: Matching non-identical objects
Next week is a new theme and my students picked….BUGS! Nothing quite says summer like bugs, so it’s a timely pick. The best part about ESY is that it’s a bit more relaxed, we can try new things and have FUN with our students! These centers brought out the fun, but we still practiced academics, fine motor skills and social skills! To me, that’s a huge win!