Yesterday I discussed learning centers and offered some tips in managing them in a classroom. Learning centers can be great additions to a teacher’s curriculum. However, they must be created and carried out properly in order to be effective. This article will discuss how to create a learning center.
The first step in creating a successful learning center is to determine which skill the center will be designed to reinforce. A center should focus on one or two specific skills to which students have previously been introduced. Because centers are independent and student directed, do not try to introduce new skills in a learning center.
After you have determined which skills you will address in the center, you must plan an activity to practice the skill. When planning your center activities, you want them to be somewhat comparable in time and effort. It can be very frustrating and harder to manage when one group gets finished very quickly and one group is lagging far behind due to the activities not being comparable in difficulty.
The activities in each learning center should be fun and attractive to the students. A simple worksheet is not very appealing. A creative activity will hold student interest in the task. Use bright colors and unique materials when creating centers.
Although directions are given at the beginning of center time, be certain that your students can manage and complete the activity independently. Complicated tasks that need direct supervision should not be included. Be certain that the activity is age and ability appropriate.
Below are examples of activities that I would include in my kindergarten learning centers
Center 1- Skill: ordering numbers 1 – 10
Students color and cut out butterflies (the theme for the week) which are numbered 1 through 10. Students than glue the butterflies in order (left to right) onto a sentence strip.
Center 2- Skills: copying, reading, writing
Students use labeled pictures to write and illustrate the following words into their own personal dictionary: butterfly, caterpillar, larva, chrysalis, leaf
Center 3- Skills: tracing, cutting, fine motor, symmetry
Students use a pattern to trace and cut out a butterfly. Students then decorate the butterfly using markers, glitter, pieces of construction paper, etc. Students take note to ensure that the wings are symmetrical
Center 4- Skill: Identifying sight words
Students are given newspaper clippings and highlighters. The paper clippings can be enlarged on a copy machine if needed. Students are given a list of words to locate and highlight. Students try to locate the most words.