With August right around the corner, schools may be starting back with in-person instruction options. I have a feeling this year will look much different than previous years, but I think we can still implement some of the basics of our day that we all know and love…and need. I wanted to help you brainstorm some ways to have safer literacy stations so you can still implement guided reading.
Each state, district, and school will have different rules and requirements, so all of these tips may not work for you. Are they all perfect? No, but if we make a solid effort to minimize the spreading of germs, our whole class will benefit.
I’m hopeful that with some safety precautions, our little learners will still be able to interact with each other and grow in learning together.
1.Take a restroom break before starting centers.
If you take a restroom break as a class before stations, you can ensure that all students properly wash their hands before interacting together. You can also observe which students need reminders about how long to wash their hands and review handwashing techniques. You’ll start this time with safer literacy stations by doing this simple step!
2.Keep hand sanitizer in center baskets.
For literacy stations that have a basket, add in a bottle of hand sanitizer. Place a bottle in the location of centers without a basket. Then, as part of introducing literacy stations, include a sanitizing step before using materials. Make it part of the routine of going to each station.
3.Give students their own set of materials.
Use a small caddy, Ziploc, pencil bag, or pencil box with materials they will need for stations to minimize sharing between students. This could be stored at their tables, desks, or cubbies. Brainstorm the basic supplies you use for literacy stations and guided reading. Put a set in each students’ box or bag.
This might include:
- letter tiles (paper tiles, laminated paper tiles, plastic tiles, etc.)
- sight word cards
- abc chart
- pointer for reading (googly eyes, witch finger, etc.)
- elkonin boxes with snap cubes or counters
4.Have students help clean materials to maximize instructional time.
To help maintain safer literacy stations, teach students how to clean and sanitize materials so you don’t have to do it all. If your campus allows it, show them how to either spray or wipe each piece in their literacy stations basket when they are done. Some schools don’t let students handle cleaning solutions, I totally get that. If they change their policies this year, make this a mini-lesson to teach your students.
5.Use wipable student materials.
Try to use as many wipable materials as possible for stations where multiple students handle the materials. If you can, laminate any cardstock pieces you’ve used in the past (which will also help make them last longer, too!). My favorite laminator is $21 and has lasted me over 5 years! You can find it HERE!
6.Use Press-n-Seal for surfaces you can’t wipe.
For cardboard surfaces like board games, use Press-n-Seal to cover the game. You’ll make the game last longer by not wiping the cardboard so often. Just cover the game and then throw it away when students are done!
Ashley Rossi shared this idea in her blog post about keeping SLP materials safe! I just thought it was fabulous!
7.Make multiple baskets for each literacy station.
If students aren’t allowed to work together, you can make duplicate literacy station baskets so students can work at their seats or designated spots in the classroom. This will allow them to work on meaningful activities while you still complete guided reading.
8.Implement technology-based literacy stations.
If you have some classroom computers or iPad, try implementing some technology-based stations. These are always easy to prep, and students love them. If students can’t work in groups, this is another way to engage students in meaningful stations while maintaining social distancing. Some great places to start are:
9.Teach students excellent personal hygiene in the classroom.
Remind students to frequently wash their hands throughout station time if they need to. Remind them if they touch their face, sneeze, cough, etc., they should grab some hand sanitizer and keep on working. Maybe you can even set up a hand signal to give to students if you see/hear them doing something that results in them needing hand sanitizer.
To help you teach and remind students of all of the ways they can keep themselves and their friends safe, I created some FREE posters for you to use in your classroom! You can grab them below!
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Unfortunately, there is no perfect solution. I do think that if you can implement of few of these ideas, you’ll be able to make safer literacy stations for both your students and yourself. If you have any other awesome ideas, I’d love to hear them. Leave a comment and let me know!