How can a teacher create student work spaces without using name tags? Here is how I make mobile work spaces for students and introduce the variety of work spaces in our kindergarten classroom.
When I wanted an alternative seating solution I needed a way to teach my new students how to choose their own work places, experience a variety of working types (ball chairs, regular chairs, standing, kneeling and floor spaces), and see the variety of spaces within the classroom available to work.
Starting Out With Alternative Seating
At the beginning of the year, we keep our spaces for the first few days before I move them around. This allows students to get to know a couple of students better and to see consistently the other types of work spaces that are available.
I quickly move students around to try another type of space and make adjustments with students as needed.
I find myself saying out loud, "You seemed to work better when you were using a standing space. Would you like to move your space there to see if it will help you make better choices?"
What We Use In Place of Name Tags
During the first two weeks, I want students to see that they have a defined work space. I also want to build name recognition. I needed to create some type of solution that accomplishes both but can be moved practically anywhere in the classroom.
How to Make Simple Work Mats
Creating a work mat was the perfect solution and these babies ended up coming in handy all year long! Here's how I made them.
- Cut an 12x18 piece of construction paper (in as many varieties of colors) in half.
- Run the two halves through the laminator side by side with a small gap in between.
- Cut around the two pieces, creating one large rectangle. Do not cut the two halves apart.
- It will fold up like a folder or lay flat.
I actually ran each piece of construction paper through our copy machine/printer to print a student name on each one. But I flipped the mats over in the picture.
Many Uses for Work Mats
What I found is that these came in handy even after students got the hang of creating their own work spaces around the classroom. We kept them all year long. Here are multiple ways I used them.
- Pass out to dismiss students to get working. (Hence the name "student work spaces")
- Use underneath painting or craft projects to help keep pieces organized or space easy to clean up. We began calling them our "art folders" and stored them until needed for projects.
- Use them to hold an entire set of class projects to lay flat and stack until later use (so they don't have to stay out all day).
- To give personal space.
- To sit upon as needed for students who need a personal space identified when on the carpet for whole group work. (But be careful - they could be slippery if stepped on).
- Help ensure student work that didn't get a name can be identified.
- Give students a "name" model to copy from since we choose our seats and don't use name tags.
So these little pieces of laminated paper have become a huge help the first few days of school to label student work spaces and continue to get put to work for projects the rest of the school year.
It's my way of releasing seat choice responsibility, teaching personal work space responsibility and helps keep me sane as we learn so many "how to do school" things at the beginning of our kindergarten year.
If you want to know how I teach students to use spaces instead of assigned seats or desks - here's how I roll out student spaces a the beginning of the year.
What tips do you have that makes work lighter on you and helps you organize work without name tags and designated spaces?
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More Alternative Seating
- Getting Rid of My Teacher Desk
- Your kinders are under the tables!
- Alternative Seating in Kindergarten – 6 Frequently Asked Questions