Sunday, March 30, 2014

Some Thinking about Learning Centers

In the last week, I have been talking to two of my early childhood courses about using learning centers in EC classrooms.  I am a total believer in the power of learning through child initiated play I think one of the most important jobs of the early childhood professional is to plan the environment so that it works for the kids. To an outsider...the "play" centers in an EC classroom might not appear planned but they should and often do take much deliberation as to the choices of items to include.  One of my classes will be arranging a fictitious preschool classroom that must include a minimum of 5 learning centers.  My EC curriculum class is beginning to work on their thematic units that must include ideas for various learning centers.  
I get excited as my students are working on these I love to plan and I often begin plotting out new ideas I would like to put into motion.  

These assignments have caused me to reflect on centers I have implemented in my years as a preschool teacher.  In my classroom I always included the following centers:  blocks, dramatic play (corresponding with the theme), sensory tables (sand/water and anything goes), manipulatives, library corner, art, and often a thematic inspired area.  I have also tried some other centers for limited periods of time:  snack, computer, listening, music, science, and preschool tummy time (explanation to follow in a future post).  I was never brave enough to add a wood working center in my classroom.  

This past Friday, the lead preschool teacher, some of our student teachers, and I reworked the block area.  I wish I would have taken a "before" photo.  All the blocks were taken off the shelves, cleaned, and sorted.  Random blocks were gathered for use elsewhere.  Shelves were wiped down and new shelf labels were made.  A HUGE bin of extra blocks that had been in our playground storage shed was brought in...all blocks wiped down, and added to the newly organized shelves.  This cleaning and organizing adventure was the beginning of a block area enhancement project that I am working on for a future conference presentation.  I am planning on adding inexpensive simple items to lure the kiddos into the block area to play.  The block area has not had a makeover in quite a while and the kids need some new challenges.  The children's reaction to the items will be fun to observe and will provide the college students with some new skills to documents and ideas for their future classrooms.

The inventory on these shelves is a little more skimpy than others...more room for new items.

Nice load of unit blocks!

So nicely organized...until Monday.
Whole newly reorganized block area!

The first new addition to the block area are some tree blocks and forest animals as one of our student teachers is implanting a camping/forest theme next week

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