Learning center activities allow kindergarten students to practice their skills while learning to work independently and in groups. For a teacher, the most difficult part of learning centers can be figuring out how to coordinate them. If done well, most of the center activities should run smoothly with little adult direction; plus, they should allow a teacher the opportunity use center time for small group instruction.
Organize Learning Center Activities
Clarify the purpose of your learning center activities. Some teachers run centers to give children a chance to learn how to work in small, rotating groups of peers, while some are run as a way to see how well students can work with minimal direction. Others give students an hour or so of "fun" activity time (though they are actually learning).
Organize your center activities. Consider purchasing a number of plastic dish pans or organizers in a variety of colors. The pans will need to be large enough to hold all the materials necessary to complete the project, but small enough to be portable.
Write out a thorough description of each activity, including a list of all the necessary materials and step-by-step directions of how to complete the project. If nothing else this description can serve as a guide for you as you prepare your center "buckets" and something to place in your plan book to remember for next year. Description cards also come in extremely handy, however, when you have classroom volunteers helping you run your center time.
Gather all the materials for each center. Assuming that by the end of the week all of your students will have rotated through all of the activities, you will need to have enough materials in each center bucket for every student. Make sure to include supplies like scissors, pencils, crayons and glue.
Color-code your activities. You can do this either by placing each activity at a different colored table, or by placing a color dot in the middle of each table. Put enough colored cubes or blocks of the corresponding colors in a small bag to evenly divide your students into groups. For example, if you have four centers (red, blue, green and yellow) and 20 students, you will need to place five cubes of each color in the bag.
Have students either choose a block or, if you want to organize the groups by skill, give them the color you want them to have. This will be their color for the week. Each day they will complete the activity that is at that table.
Run Learning Centers Activities
Choose your activities carefully. One learning center should allow you to sit down and teach a skill to the students -- usually a reading or writing activity. The rest of the activities should be simpler and more self-directed. Consider simple fine-motor-oriented art projects such as painting, building, books on tape or manipulative exploration activities. As the students get better at working independently, the centers can become more complicated.
Ask for parent volunteers. A volunteer can not only oversee the rest of the centers while you teach, but can also answer any questions the students may have.
Begin the week by giving the students a quick overview of each activity. Show them what the completed projects will look like and let them know the expectations of how that project will be completed.
Set, communicate and stick to rules about under what circumstances you can be interrupted, what level of noise is acceptable and what activities students can do if they finish a center early. Usually, it's best to allow students to look at books, write in their journals or do another quiet activity when they are finished.
Things You Will Need
- Plastic dish pans
- School supplies
- Colored blocks or cubes
- Consider setting a timer at the beginning of center time and carry it with you. That way you can give your students a five- to 10-minute warning for cleanup before centers are over.
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