Fun kindergarten small groups are so essential to have an engaging learning experience for children. Small groups provide students the chance to collaborate, learn from one another, and get more individualized feedback. Generally, large groups can be overwhelming for young students who are new to classroom environments. Working in small groups encourages them to ask questions and get involved with their project. However, planning great activities for small groups can be a challenge. The planning and execution for these projects look very different from large group activities.
What Are Kindergarten Small Groups?
Some newer teachers may be wondering, “what are small groups?” Altogether, small group instruction is a way to work in a more intimate setting than working with all thirty kids. When you break the class into groups of four to six, you can spend more time with each individual. Additionally, this can be great for helping the kids who are falling behind academically. You can also use it as a strategy to get shy kids to speak up more. Some gifted children find it more enriching to spend time in small groups as they can discuss the subject deeply. Obviously, kindergarten small group instruction has plenty of benefits for the entire class.
Set Up Rotations
Overall, there are several ways that you can incorporate small group learning into your kindergarten class. Firstly, you need to set up a rotation. You can break students into several small groups and have them go to various stations. For example, stations might include different activities, games, or teacher-led instruction. On the other hand. you could give all the students the same activity at once, but have them work in small teams together. Also, kindergarten small groups can even be a great early finisher activity when doing large group instruction. When a student completes their individual work, they can go with a small group to do another activity.
Use Kindergarten Small Groups for Individual Instruction
Kindergarten small groups are great ways to modify and individualize instruction. When you need to reteach or review, going with small groups can be very helpful. Also, it gives you an opportunity to provide more detailed instruction and answer more questions. Separating students by ability level can be a great way to provide extra help to those that need it. When students are working with others who are close to their skill level, it can be less intimidating. Then, those who are struggling can feel free to speak up and ask questions because they feel less singled out.
Use Kindergarten Small Groups to Gather Data
In addition, this time for small group direct instruction is also a great time to gather observation data for your classroom. Obviously, it can be hard to observe and record the behavior of every student when you are working with a large group. When you are working with a smaller group, documentation is easier. While sitting at the table with your small group, you can easily have a clipboard handy and jot down notes. However, direct instruction is not the only way to use small group activity. You can use small groups to do fun activities, play games, or build classroom community as well.
What Are Some Small Group Activities You Can Use?
The applications of small groups are limitless! For example, one great way to use small groups is to encourage creative thinking and collaboration. Giving students a larger project and having them work together on it is a great way to introduce small groups. You might start by having them work on building something together. If you are learning about speed, have small groups of students build a car together. During these types of activities, try having students assign themselves jobs within their group. You might have one person who is designated to take notes, while another gets materials from the teacher. Students can then have individual jobs they have to do to support one another. This can promote teamwork and prevent one student from managing the entire project.
Also, there are lots of fun games for kindergarten small groups that you can include in your classroom activities. Small groups games are a great way to build stronger bonds among your students and let them relax socially. Additionally, small group games can prove especially useful at the beginning of the school year as icebreakers. For example, these simple get-to-know-you games can be something simple, like charades or Pictionary. Students can pick a topic, such as favorite sport or food, and use it as their word for either game. Over the course of this game, students get to know the others in their small group well. They also get practice with teamwork and communication skills!
Using Card and Board Games for Kindergarten Small Groups
Another great small group game activity is card and board games. Card and board games require a lot of attention to detail and collaboration. They’re also great for when you are working with other small groups for dedicated instruction. They’ll keep kids entertained and learning for a good long period of time, so you can focus elsewhere. Popular games include Sorry, Uno, Snakes and Ladders, and Kerplunk. Make sure to choose games that are simple enough that kids can play without adult help. You can find fun, themed games around your current topic of learning to make it even more educational!
Small groups can also be a great application for large art projects. Turning an art project into a group activity takes a simple craft and makes it a challenge. Students have to work together to design the project, which requires communication and collaboration. Students also have to be careful to communicate well to ensure they execute it accordingly. By dividing the work, you can create much more ambitious projects with your students. They’ll even get much more social-emotional and language learning out of the process!
Benefits of Kindergarten Small Groups
Kindergarten small groups can also be a great way to build the social bonds of your classroom. Often children will tend to gravitate towards playing only with a small handful of preferred playmates. By assigning small group work, they can spend social time with others outside of their usual group. This is especially important for kindergarten, where socialization is critical. Assigning small groups can allow children to form bonds with those with whom they might not socialize often. It can even be very beneficial for ensuring that students who might be socially ostracized are included with their classmates.
Small groups don’t always have to focus on a big project or activity, however. Just using small groups for small, simple activities can still have a big impact. Use small groups to have children build with Legos or write in their journals together. They will still get a lot out of the experience of working together, communicating, and socializing with their peers. That kind of casual group experience can also provide a bit of a break from the rest of their day.
Small group activities and games can require more planning on the part of a teacher. They certainly are very different in format from large group instruction. However, the benefits and opportunities that small group learning presents are highly valuable. By incorporating small group learning into your daily classroom routine, you can enrich the learning in your classroom. Give it a try and you won’t regret it!