Table Time

Ultimate Guide to Table Time

Table Time is one of my favorite parts of preschool! I created this Ultimate Guide to Table Time just for you! Table Time is what we do first thing after my students have arrived and unpacked their belongings. There is always a predictable activity to reinforce a specific skill. But there’s also plenty of social interaction, too.

Table Time sets the tone for our whole day!  

I don’t try to reinvent the wheel every morning. Instead, I have a collection of lesson plans which I rotate through every couple of weeks. 

By having familiar activities, my students are well adjusted to school. They gain independence each day with these activities. They know what to expect and what to do. 

My Table Time is approximately 20-25 minutes long. Yours might be shorter or longer depending on the age of your students, your class size, the rest of your daily schedule, and other factors which are unique for your classroom. Because most of the activities are open-ended, you can decide the timing that works best for your class. You can control if you want to finish a few minutes earlier than scheduled or go a little longer.

In general, if you have students who are not there for the entire time, it’s okay. Sure, they will miss doing that day’s activity but they aren’t missing a new objective being taught.  I do, however, tell parents the value of our Table Time and why being punctual to school is so important! 

These are the ten Table Time Collections I use over and over in my classroom!

You’ll see how easily you can pick and choose from these  collections to offer your class the Ultimate Table Time every day!

Let’s get started!

ALPHABET CENTERS

Whether you teach 3’s, 4’s,  5’s, Pre-K, or Kindergarten, your students will benefit from exposure to ABC Centers regularly.  Young children enjoy exploring the alphabet and manipulating letters.   

I have a variety of alphabet activities randomly placed on the tables during Table Time. Children aren’t assigned seats so they are free to move about the room and choose the activity they’d like to do.  Some kids do every single activity on the tables while others prefer to do the same one over and over.

Alphabet Centers
Letter Rocks
Pattern Block Letters
What Letter Comes Next?
Alphabet Circle Folders
letter-salad
Letter Salad

ART

Table Time is the perfect opportunity for your students to create free art, use watercolors, make collages, enjoy partner art, or just simply color. 

 

Collages & Watercolors
Color of the Month Collages
Imagination Box Creations (leftover scraps, odds, ends go in the box)
Partner Art or Buddy Art

BIBLE

I teach in a Christian preschool where we have Bible stories and memory verses as part of our curriculum. We are a half day program so it’s hard to fit all the academic skills plus our Bible requirements into the school day. Our morning work time has given me the flexibility to schedule Bible activities several times each month. 

Bible Story Craft
Bible Verse Puzzle & Illustration

BIRTHDAY BOOKS

Whenever we have a student birthday to celebrate, we start off their special day by making a Birthday Book!

In advance, I prepare a cover template for the Birthday Book. The birthday boy/girl decorates the cover with stickers while their classmates get busy creating pages to go inside. Many times I hear students asking the Birthday child their favorite color, place, toy, ice cream, etc as they customize the drawings for the Birthday Book.

 

Decorating the Birthday Book cover

CUTTING PRACTICE

Preschoolers can always use a little work on fine motor skills

Why not have a designated Table Time for cutting practice?

Some days we cut filler for our sensory tub. Often we cut strips we’ll use for paper chains or patterning. At times we cut pieces we’ll need during centers when we assemble a craft. And sometimes, we just cut because we like to cut!

Strips for Cutting
Provide baggies to take home all those cutting pieces

MATH CENTERS

Math Centers are a favorite Table Time activity so we use them at least once a week! 

I have a wonderful collection of basic counting manipulatives as well as plenty of themed and seasonal Math Centers, too. 

Using Math Centers at morning arrival allows  the teacher an opportunity to see the progress being made with our math objectives. It gives us the chance to sit with a student who might need extra one on one instruction for a skill they haven’t quite mastered yet. 

Math Center Shelf---Clear plastic shoeboxes are perfect for storing math manipulatives
Clothespin Counting Circles
Clip "how many" on the circle
Count & Stack the Unifix Cubes
Fun with Dominoes
Counting Keys
Tiles & Number Cards (You could also sort by color)

NAME WORK

We work on first names frequently at the beginning of the school year. After those have been mastered, we focus on our last names using the same activities as we did for our first names.  

Before we ever pick up a pencil or crayon to write, we work with the letters in our names in many different ways. Name Work is so much fun!

Clothespins clipped to student Name Cards
Milk Jug Lids---Great for Name Puzzles
Letter Tiles for spelling names
Preschoolers love to Rainbow Write their names

PLAYDOH

I love homemade play dough! In fact, it’s my “go to” activity every Friday morning! 

There are so many benefits as children mash, mold, and make things with dough. It’s a bonus how imaginations unfold while kids are building fine motor muscles. 

I sometimes provide a tray of tools such as play dough scissors, shape cutters, and letter stampers for the kids to use while they play with the dough.

My favorite Play Dough recipe! Mix with your food coloring of choice and cook over medium high heat until a ball is formed. Cool and store in an airtight container.
Hands are the best tools!
play dough path
Play Dough Path cards are fun to use and help build fine motor muscles.

POETRY JOURNALS

A regular part of my Table Time each month is working in our Poetry Journals.

We have a Good Morning song every month as well as a featured monthly poem.

After we’ve introduced the song/poem and practiced it several times, we are ready to illustrate in the Poetry Journals. 


We make the Poetry Journals during pre-planning so they are ready to go when we need them. I type the words to the monthly Good Morning Song and the Poem of the Month, copy a set for each student, and bind into a Poetry Journal.
The Good Morning Song and Poem of the Month are displayed in pocket charts in our classroom.

WHITE BOARDS

Don’t forget to use your dry erase boards for Table Time!

Anything you can write on paper can be written on white boards instead. 

We practice names, letters, words, and numerals. Students love to walk around the room and find something to write or copy. 

Practicing letters and names on the Whiteboards
Writing the Alphabet
Sight words on the Whiteboards

I hope you found plenty of ideas you can use when lesson planning your mornings!

Remember, you don’t have to rethink Table Time every day or every week. 

You can use this collection of ideas over & over!

Are you ready to have the Ultimate Table Time in your classroom?