How to Set Up a Learning Center
Are a teacher who wants to set up a learning center, but needs some guidance? If so, watch the video below. It shows Elizabeth, a kindergarten teacher in California, walking viewers through how she sets up her learning centers.
She starts by explaining the themes that her three centers are built around. Building learning centers around themes falls right in line with best practices. Below I have listed the names of her learning centers, along with a brief description of each center’s theme.
- Tinker Town- In this area, students are given tools and parts they can use to build or create things. Think of it as a STEM center for little kids.
- Pink Playhouse- In this area, students can engage in imaginative and pretend play.
- Reading Rainbows- In this area, students can work on their literacy skills or read a book.
I love her classroom and its approach to learning centers. Why? Because, In addition to offering three centers, she has a group of 4-5 students that she works with to develop critical academic and behavioral skills. New materials and choices are added to each center throughout the school year. The readings mention several types of learning centers, and Elizabeth’s can be categorized as interest and exploratory center. This type of center focuses on the interests of the student.
Elizabeth assigns students to centers each day, and they can’t move to another center unless they get permission from her. Sometimes she grants their request, but sometimes she doesn’t. Sometimes, she will just take note of that preference and place them in their preferred station the next day.
This seems to align with best practices, except for the fact that students do not rotate throughout the day. At scheduled times, students should shift to a different center so that eventually all students have the opportunity to complete the tasks at every center, as well as to work with the teacher in a small group!
However, I would not consider Elizabeth’s decision not to shift groups throughout the day as being out of compliance with best practices. I say this because she is dealing with a group of 5 to 6 years olds that don’t may have the ability to self-regulate themselves in a manner that is conducive to shifting from one center to another. I assume she had to modify her centers to be developmentally appropriate for kindergarteners, which is perfectly fine.