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Inviting and engaging learning centers encourage children to interact with materials and peers, make choices, move freely and independently, attempt new skills, challenge or reinforce their learning.  Center activities draw children to areas that they might not have chosen otherwise or allow them to revisit favorite activities. They give children opportunities to learn individually or in small groups, while allowing the teacher to take

 
 

advantage of moments of readiness, keen interest, and desire.

 

Children are gently enticed into the mainstream of learning.  With time and encouragement, every child soon comes to enjoy all of the available centers and activities.  The shy child may choose a quiet corner, while another child may join a group in dramatic play or a learning game that requires several participants.  A child with an interest in art may choose to start her day in that area, whereas another child might enjoy quietly working with play dough.


The focus of the learning centers and their materials change throughout the month, depending on the unit of study, the age level and the individual needs of the class.  The following list is the minimum type of centers in each classroom.


Art


Art activities vary on a daily or weekly basis, and are often topic related.  Some projects are teacher directed, but there is ample opportunity for creativity and experimentation. The Art Center includes the easel and free art area with crayons, markers, pencils, glue, scissors, scrap paper and collage materials. By experimenting with a variety of media and techniques, a child develops imaginative thinking, creative expression, fine motor and discriminatory skills.  


Manipulative Toys


Working with puzzles, lotto games, peg boards, stringing beads, magnets, sorting toys and legos, a child develops the eye-hard coordination, manipulative, fine motor, and visual discrimination skills that are critical for reading, writing and math readiness. By manipulating materials in this center, a child increases their reasoning and decision making skills.


Block Play


Included in this center may be wooden, bristle, magnetic, foam or cardboard blocks.  Block Play is an important part of all rooms, where the child learns mathematical concepts of size, weight, symmetry, cause and effect as well as the social skills in the give and take of cooperative play.  Putting blocks away provides experience with visual discrimination, sorting, organizing and taking responsibility for our classroom.


Dramatic Play


Dramatic Play includes dress-up clothes, furniture, household equipment and appliances. Materials reflect our cultural diversity.  The "housekeeping" center can easily be changed into a grocery store, office, space station, cave, tropical rainforest, or Physician's office where the child can enact familiar or fantasy situations.  Dramatic Play fosters role-playing, use of language, cooperation, imagination, self-expression and problem solving among peers.


Reading Corner and Listening Centers


Cozy, quiet settings with pillows, carpet or child-sized rocking chairs are provided where the child experiences not only daily story time, but may choose to spend individual, small group or 1:1 time with a Teacher quietly "reading" or listening to records or tapes. The Reading Center encourages an interest in, and respect for, literature, strengthens visual perception and reinforces reading readiness skills. Flannel boards and puppets are often included for creative story telling.  The children increase language skills, gain appreciation for books, build vocabulary, develop listening skills and increase their attention span.


Science Area


The Science table provides an opportunity to observe nature (plants, insects, rocks, shells, bird nests, etc.), and work with scientific tools such as magnifying glasses, prisms, magnets, scales and weights. With these materials, the child begins to form scientific and mathematical concepts and may engage in simple experimentation. Activities provided in the Science Area develop sensory awareness, enhance a child's natural curiosity, and encourage observation and discriminatory skills. Most classrooms also have a classroom "pet" (hamster, fish, or bird) and live plants which foster care-taking skills, respect for nature and caring for our environment.   


Music Center


This area allows children to develop creative expression, sound discrimination and an appreciation for different kinds of music.  A variety of musical and rhythm instruments are available, as well as a CD or tape recorder. Children can experiment with rhythms, beats, musical tones and singing. The Music Center strengthens auditory discrimination, fosters creative expression through music and movement, encourages large and small muscle coordination, and taps into a child's innate love of music, rhythm, movement and song.


Woodworking


In the Woodworking Center, children have a chance to work with some of the real tools that they may see being used in their homes.  The Center may include child-sized safety goggles, hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, a pounding block for nails, nuts and bolts, tool belt, level and measuring tape. The use of tools helps them develop problem solving and design skills, hone their fine and gross motor skills, increase eye/hand coordination, and explore mathematical and scientific concepts while learning about their proper use and safety guidelines.  


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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