Let's Explore! A Guide to Preschool Center Time

By Sarah Malburg

Are you looking for ideas for setting up centers in your preschool classroom? Whether for dramatic play, art, writing, listening or reading, this guide will offer you suggestions for providing your students tactile and fun experiences in a variety of curriculum areas.

Centered Learning

Children of all ages enjoy hands-on learning and preschoolers are no different. Providing an opportunity for your students to take charge of their own learning through exploration, creativity, and working closely with each other in small groups helps to develop their self-esteem, encourages socialization and offers them a chance to express themselves while obtaining new information.

This guide of center ideas and dramatic play themes will provide you with the necessary teaching tools to create a successful learning environment complete with fun!

The What, Why and How of Early Learning Centers

Learning centers in the preschool classroom have been designed to create interactive learning experiences for students for years, but why are they so important? What are the benefits of these small learning areas? Learn how to organize and setup your classroom to make learning in small groups and centers fun. How do students learn through play and exploration? These articles will provide you with the insight into this methodology, including how to assess learning in this environment.

It's Reading and Writing Time

Reading and writing is a large part of the curriculum at the preschool level. Skills such as alphabet identification and writing, reading comprehension, literary connections, name writing, number writing, and even journaling are all touched upon and to some degree emphasized more than other subject areas. These are the necessary skills to communicate and gain knowledge in life so developing writing and reading/library centers with activities to practice these skills will highly benefit your students.

Reading

Writing

How Does That Work? Science Centers

Science is the perfect subject for setting up learning centers where preschoolers can explore, experiment, and collect data all while gaining valuable information regarding their surroundings. They will discover the wonder of magnets, study the concepts of sink or float, explore why things melt and how our five senses can help us learn. These science center ideas and activities will transform your ordinary students into little Einsteins in no time!

What Can I Make? Art Center Ideas and Materials

Independent art activities such as coloring, cutting, gluing, tracing, drawing, etc. are all ways for students to put their creativity to good use by crafting something that has value to them. Providing a wide array of art materials and even creating art kits for center time can help your preschoolers to put Picasso to shame!

Themed Center Ideas

Often times, teachers create learning centers based on themes they are covering in class. These articles touch on themes including the farm, the city, the winter, the summer, ducks, birds and more. With these themed centers, they will learn math skills, listening skills through reading, fine motor skills through crafts, science concepts, social skills and will have the opportunity to play games and sing songs.

Dramatic Play

Dramatic play offers a chance for preschoolers to use their imaginations, encourages social skills, and helps them to develop a sense of community and awareness of their surroundings. Some students may enjoy pretending to be a store clerk while others may enjoy playing the role of a postman or woman. Teaching children the concepts of cooking, healthy eating, laundry skills, money handling and even the purpose or meaning of uniforms, will help them to better understand the roles of the people in their everyday lives such as their parents and community members.

Extra Materials and Center Transitions

Some learning centers may just exist to create and opportunity for free play or independent learning using general age-appropriate materials and objects. Here you will find articles discussing activities for items such as puzzles, blocks, sand, water and other manipulatives that will provide them a tactile learning experience.

You will also find a few ideas for transitioning between centers, from circle time to centers, and ideas for center clean up that will eliminate the "put away" pouts.

Preschool learning centers are great methods for getting your students to take charge of their own learning. Whether they choose to work on an art project, practice their writing skills, or maybe just want to whip up something in the play kitchen, your little ones will love all of the activities and ideas presented here. If you have some center time fun ideas from your classroom that you would like to share, please feel free to comment below. The more the merrier!