Using learning centers to introduce new concepts to toddlers can be challenging. Don’t give up, though, because it can also prove very beneficial! In this article, we will explore some options for setting up toddler learning centers.
When you set up centers, you typically offer three or four choices. At each station, your toddlers complete an activity. Activities can range from coloring, to flashcards, and everything in between.
When you set up toddler learning centers, define where each center is. For example, in one corner of the room, tape off a section and label it with a number 1. Do the same for the other two or three centers and number them accordingly. Doing so, will provide your toddlers with a visual, and help them figure out where to go when it is time to rotate. When you introduce the concept of centers to toddlers, try taking them as a whole group to each station and explain to them where each station is located and what they will do.
As you are setting up toddler learning centers, I would suggest having a craft station, where they make something. At this station, it would be appropriate to use coloring, finger painting, or have them decorate a sheet with stickers. For the next center, set up a game station, where the kids play a matching game or play a game like Simon Says or Follow the Leader. Center three can focus on a new skill, such as numbers or letters. Use flashcards, either prefabricated or ones you make, for this station. Your attention will likely center here, as you will work with the small group in learning the skill.
If you choose to have additional station(s), why not try a play station where the toddlers are allowed to play with the toys. You may also like a story time station, where the kids can listen to a story. Using a story time center would be a great way to integrate Bible stories, if that lies in the interest of the program.
Suggestions for Rotating
The concept of learning centers usually implies rotating to the different centers. Doing this with toddlers can prove difficult so toddlers will need a lot of help and supervision. If the personnel is available, I would suggest each teacher could be in charge of an individual center or even two centers, (depending upon availability and the number of centers you are using). If, however, no one is available to render aid with your learning centers, I have two suggestions for you. My first suggestion is to rotate whole class. That way, you won’t have to be in three or four places at once! Rotating whole class would mean you take the whole group of toddlers around to the various centers, instead of dividing them into groups. If you choose this option, I still suggest setting up boundaries by taping off each center.
The second option is to go ahead and divide your toddlers into groups and rotate by using music to cue when they go to the next center. You will have to explain this concept to them, but with practice it can work well. Demonstrate for them what they are supposed to do, and when they are supposed to do it. You will need to monitor all centers simultaneously, so incorporate activities that will allow for minimal help from you if you are short on help.
So, now you are prepared for setting up toddler learning centers! Your toddler students are going to have so much fun as they learn and practice new skills! You may end up exhausted at the end of the day, but you will clearly see the benefits of implementing such a great concept into your class. Happy teaching!