Socially Distant Centers in Primary Grades

My kinders are BACK in our classroom, and through all of my excitement I almost forgot there would be some struggle adjusting to our new classroom set up and requirements. After weeks of scratching my head on just how to implement centers (because let's face it, centers are ESSENTIAL in primary grades) I'm here to share some of my favorite centers, along with some tips and tricks, for your socially distant classroom.

Letter Boards + Clip art

These were a bit tedious, but easy enough that I prepped one per student. I snagged these FOR FREE from Natalie Lynn Kindergarten's blog (linked here). She has colored ink options as well, but as I'm sure many of you understand, my school doesn't have easy access to a colored printer so helllllo colored pencils, thanks for assisting me in coloring our vowels.

Another tip? Instead of wasting tons of velcro I purchased and used this tack it glue. You can find it here.

I then used clip art from Rainbow Sprinkle Studio on TpT and printed and cut out a sheet of CVC words that students could spell using their letter boards.

This activity is independent and you can differentiate it by having students only using beginning letter sounds.

Task Boxes with laminated sheets

Task boxes are incredible for this year's environment. Give one student a task box/skill to complete for centers (I'll even have one table focusing on task boxes, but each student has a different skill). This way, students have their own materials.

I was originally trying not to laminate this year, but laminating the sheets makes it that much easier to spray down materials instead of quarantining them for days on end.

These task cards and boxes, along with many other skills are available in my prep optional reading centers. If you want the task card box covers, make sure you purchase the larger resource and not the individual skills.

Use what you have - puzzles, games, etc.

Do not stress yourself out more than needed... especially, in an already stressful year. Find all those puzzles, games, fine motor materials, etc. you have laying around and re purpose them per student.

Bins, bins, bins

I've always obsessed over having all of the bins in my classroom, but this year they are a necessity and I certainly need MORE! Side note: I'm a toss it kind of teacher, and try not to hold onto too much, but you won't ever catch me tossing out a bin. You WILL find a reason for it.

Being able to place resources in a bin and divvy them out that way makes life that much more easy. PLUS, I can just easily spray down the bin and its contents after a center is done using the materials.

I linked the pages we used in the below picture here. Uni-fix cubes are under the sheets for students to create their spring pictures.

Individual IKEA book boxes for books

You should definitely use these every year, but I'm just happy for students to have another piece of the classroom that is their very own in order to fit into the parameters of this years' requirements.

We book shop on Mondays, keep our books for a week, and I can spray down and/or quarantine books for the following week.

It's easy to work this into a center because they can just grab their own book box and bring it back to their seat to read, picture walk, or go for a sight word hunt.

PS, I love these book boxes so much because the students get to decorate them themselves, and I feel like it gets them that much more excited about reading.

You can find them on Amazon, here.

Flash card partner games

My classroom was fortunate enough to be give table shields that split their round tables into four sections, making it much much easier for social interaction.

So, my students are able to play flash card games through the shields, but they are also able to see most of our flash cards while staying socially distanced.

Tablets with individual headphone storage

Another blessing? My students were given tablets this year, so tablets are always, and will forever be, one of our center rotations.

Here is how I store their headphones individually. They sanitize before picking up!

Individual sensory bins

Okay, the love and excitement that went into these though..... I gathered up all of the pencil boxes laying around my classroom and filled them with sprinkles.

****full disclosure if you want to save money use something other than sprinkles, but if you want them you can buy these big bins not judge me.. I had to buy three to fill 13 bins***

Rice is a super cheap alternative, and you can even dye it with food coloring (I've done that before and I must say I'd rather spend the money....)

Right now I have their most recent sight words in there. They are expected to read and write the sight word, and they love playing around in the sprinkles to find their words.

I will continue to use these throughout the months and just switched up what's inside.

Another sensory bin I created for math, was just a bin full of beads, plus some laminated number cards. Students have to dig through for the number, and depending on the skill, we either add or subtract using pipe cleaners and the beads in their bins.

The number cards shown can be found in this fine motor resource.

Quick print and prep materials

Basically, anything that you can print and prep quickly will be a lifesaver if you're back in the classroom and trying to socially distance your kinders. Here are two of my favorites.

CVC word cards on rings:

We've been working on blending and segmenting our sounds with "buttons" and slinkies. The students push the black button to make each sound, and then stretch it out with their slinky.

Huge bag of slinkies can be found here.

These laminated lists of CVC words give them words to be accountable for in their centers, and also gives them picture cues at the top for their vowel sounds. Click HERE or the picture below to access them for FREE!!!

Math and ELA mats:

These math and ELA mats from Natalie Lynn Kindergarten have been a life saver. Such easy prep and so many options. Here's an example of one we used in our classroom.

All you have to do is print, place in a sheet protector, and give a small bin of needed materials to each student. Super easy and easy spray to clean up as well.

I hope you enjoyed this discombobulated list of ideas, and I hope it is in some way helpful to you are your kiddos! Let me know what questions or comments you have below and


Teaching Sight Words Virtually

Kinder and First Grade Reading Centers

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