5 Minute Stations

I love learning stations.


I started calling them stations after reading The Daily 5 years ago when I taught second grade.  The authors suggested that kids see "centers" as that playtime they had in Kindergarten.  (Even though you and I know that "play" time is hugely important developmentally, kids do not, so they just see it as a fun playtime.)  This quote caused a complete thought overhaul for me.  I had to take a hard look at what I was planning for my students while I met with guided reading groups.  It was time to ditch centers and start learning stations.

Anyway, this year I am teaching 30 minute small reading groups with 1st-4th graders.  And I miss my stations.  The other day, we had five extra minutes at the end of my 1st grade group, so I pulled out a few things they could work on independently for those last few minutes.  And remembered exactly how much I love this type of learning.

I want it back.  I love the learning that happens with me supporting from the sidelines instead of directing all of the traffic.  Of course, I need to be the leader of these groups, but student lead learning has value, and there needs to be time for it.  Also, there is nothing like working one on one with a kid to get a really good feeling for what's going on.  This gives me a good opportunity to do that.

About 12 seconds into this little time, and I was scheming to figure out a way to make it happen everyday.  An extended time is out, but I can for sure make 5 minutes a group happen with my first grade friends.  The only rule is that is has to be meaningful for them and fast for me.  I have a ton of different groups to prep for, so spending lots of prep time for 5 minutes is not going to happen.

Here's the plan:


I bring my iPad to school with me everyday already.  I recently got these Touchtronic letters that are PHENOMENAL.  You can read about them here.  I also have some other apps that would work well, too, like


I have these fluency stories from the amazing Stephanie at Falling Into First as well as these Fry phrases strips from Shauna’s Shop.  The kids are familiar with these, and they're all ready out and easy to grab.

Short Vowel Review

I love this Short Vowel bundle from Jodi Southard.  It is awesome.  The kids are familiar with it because we often use something from it to review, and they love it.

Familiar Reading

It usually takes me a few weeks to get sets back to the book room. (I know. Don't throw any stones at me.)  I'll leave a few out.

That's it.  If I was in a regular classroom setting, I would include more just from a logistics stand point.  When you have 22 friends, you need to Spread the People Out.  But I have small groups, it's five minutes, and this is perfect.

Am I saying you should cut your stations down to 5 minutes in a regular classroom setting?  No way.  But if you’re having trouble fitting them in, start thinking creatively.  This type of learn is so important for students, and the opportunities it provides you as the teacher to get a peek into how they work independently is vital.

Anybody else already scheming to make next year even better?

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  1. I used to call them "stations" too - until the Title 1 teacher thought I meant "stations of the cross." (I teach at a public school). Now I call them centers. I'm always planning how to make next time/week/year better. I love when I can make a connection to a post!

  2. Even though I am a homeschooler, I use Stations as well. Makes learning so much more fun!


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