Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Learning Centers

So, day 2 of school has officially come to a close. While we did some school over the summer, it was very nice to get back into the full swing of things.

Homeschooling is definitely not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of commitment, consistency, creativity, patience, pre-planning, research, & so forth. I am not claiming it is for everyone or every family by any means, but when it works out it can be extremely rewarding. There is nothing like experiencing your child reading for the 1st time or finally grasping a subject they have been struggling with.

Homeschooling children at multiple grade levels is probably the thing I get asked about the most. While I am able to teach some subjects/topics to all 3 of the older girls at the same time, there is at least an hour of the day where I do 1 on 1 teaching with each of them. How? Centers! They are a MUST & a lifesaver. Sitting the kids who are not directly working with you in front of a television set is unproductive, a waste of valuable time where you could be empowering your child to take learning into their own hands & use their brain power to apply what they have been already learning or develop new concepts! Book work is unavoidable sometimes, but that's why as teachers we really need to capitalize on the opportunities to teach our students through actually doing! This helps to cement in what they have been learning.

Here are just a few ideas for some centers you can use for your students while you are doing 1 on 1 work with your other child:

Craft stick pocket counting:
Put the correct number of Popsicle sticks in the pocket


Mittens on a clothesline: Number order


Lacing cards:
You can buy them, Melissa & Doug makes some nice durable ones, or you can easily make them!

Sorting center: 
There are so many things you can do with this. Today, I had Aussie sort manipulative bears in different bowls based on their color. As a group activity, the girls sorted shoes by size.

Rhyming centers:
There are so many different types & levels of a rhyming centers you can do. For pre-k and kindergarten levels you might want to work with primarily pictures. With older grade levels you can do some fun things with words.




Cutting Center:
There are books dedicated to cutting that you can copy. They feature different variations of lines that your students can practice cutting (zig zags, wavy lines, etc). You can also easily find free ones off the internet or make your own as well.

Role Play/Dramatic Play:
Role play is very important. It helps kids sort through their feelings, play "grown up" for awhile, and so forth. You can have puppets/finger puppets & a stage they can play with. Maybe you can even have them pick out certain emotions or situations to act out with the puppets. As far as dramatic play, you can set up something fun & new every week. They are so many ideas out there like pirate themes, snow themes, grocery store, library, etc. They are playing, but they are also learning!!!

Life Skill:
This is a nice center you can change up. You probably want to go through and model it once or twice, but after awhile maybe they can do some of the skills on there own. Set up an area where they can practice writing/addressing/mailing a letter, a center for proper teeth brushing, shoe tying practice, etc.

Sequencing Center:
"The teacher will read a story to the students aloud. After the story, the teacher will hand students pre-cut images of events in the story. Students will place the images in correct order. The book should be available for reference if students need help during the activity"  (Source)

Magazine center:
Magazines that you don't really need are an awesome thing to start collecting. Not only are they good for cutting practice but there are endless other activities you can do with them. Have your students search and cut out actual letters or find objects that start with a specific letter. Have them cut out things that they like, search for words, or anything!

Sensory Table:
There are so many various types of sensory tables/centers you can do. Go to pinterest & type in "sensory table". Your mind will be blown, lol!

Alphabet Art:
There are so many crafts you can do to help reinforce the letter of the week. If it is a simple enough craft & you have done the prep work ahead of time (all necessary cutting, made an example to follow, & set out a glue stick-far less mess then other glue).


Reading centers: You can always set up a reading area that features books that align with the topic of the week that you can have your kids read or look at the pictures if they can't read just yet. Do something to make the area unique & fun like adding special reading buddies, comfy pillows, a theme, etc. 



Listening center: 
You can also create a center where your kiddos can listen to a book. You can even use headphones. Books on tape can be purchased or with today's technology, you can read and record them yourself. Have your students try to follow along with the actual book.

Block Reading Fun:

Puzzle Stations:
Set out various puzzles for your kids to try & figure out. It can be puzzles you bought or puzzles you create yourself with a laminating machine, pictures from a magazine, & scissors.

Sticky Table Center:

Letter Centers:
There are a lot of letter tracing centers you can do. Kids love when they get to do dry erase anything! So keep your eyes open for dry erase alphabet books, they are everywhere right now!

Well, that is about it for now. I hope you got a few good ideas for centers. I have a few more, but honestly I think I just ran out of steam---lol. I will post more as the school year goes on. Definitely check out your Target dollar spot and the dollar store. You can also use things lying around your house. The current station I am collecting for is a "letter bottle cap" center.


There are so many thing you can come up with, get creative. Sort beads, pom pom balls, an easy craft, etc.

Sweet dreams and happy teaching!

-M&M Momma

Playing in the rain sprinkles!

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