Monday, 25 May 2015

How to Have Great Play Centres

In some countries, kindergarten teachers don’t use centres, but I’m an advocate of this idea, and I’ll tell you why:
  • Centres promote children’s independence – because they get to choose what to do, whom they play with and most of the time they manage to do those activities by themselves, without having to ask for the teacher’s help;
  • Children can choose different types of activities throughout the day, not just the same one over and over again; If the teacher gives them a couple of options (for example the Art centre and the Construction centre), they will find something to do, even though their favourite game might be in another centre. Kids need variety, so they can see what they are talented at and discover new things;
  • They also become responsible and independent – when a child chooses an activity, she has to stick with it for at least 5-10 mins (depending on the age), be perseverant and try to finish what they started. Furthermore, the kids learn to clean up after themselves and take care of the toys they play with;
  • Children are actively engaged in the learning process, which will make them remember things that they learn; The learning experience is more meaningful.
Whether they are fun, exciting, new centres (such as a Hot Cocoa stand, the Bakery, etc.) or permanent ones, they make our job much easier; we have time to observe the kids’ play, see what if their social skills need to improve in certain ways.

Here are a few permanent centres that you can have in your classroom and ideas of toys, supplies, and activities to include:

Book corner

  • Books with images
  • Photo albums
  • Images for story telling activities
  • Story dice
  • Mirror
  • The Storyteller’s chair
  • newspapers, magaziner
  • foam or wooden letters
  • hand and finger puppets

Construction centre

  • wooden building blocks
  • Lego (photos letters/numbers/different objects made out of legos)
  • Plastic blocks
  • Mozaic games
  • Cardboard boxes, scissors, tape

Role playing centre

  • Cooking set (with cuttlery, dishes, food)
  • Doctor set
  • Soft toys
  • Puppets
  • Theatre stand
  • Cars
  • Parking lot
  • Plastic animals
  • Trains and tracks
  • Props (costumes, mustaches, glasses, apron, paper money, vet checklist, restaurant menu, ice-cream menu, etc.)

Art centre

  • Paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Pads for modelling clay
  • modelling clay
  • clay
  • cookie shapes
  • playdough mats
  • pompom mats
  • pencils
  • crepe paper
  • coloured paper
  • pom poms
  • sequins
  • wrapping paper
  • scissors
  • notebooks for drawing (Busy Book)
  • glue
  • salt dough
  • yarn
  • pipe cleaners
  • foam shapes
  • hole punch (different shapes)
  • sponges (for painting)
  • CDs with kids’ music
  • Musical instruments

Science centre

  • Images of fruit, vegetables, wild animals, domestic animals, habitats, people, life cycles of animals/plants
  • Geographic atlases
  • Scale
  • Boxes with different seeds and legumes
  • Magnifying glass
  • Beans
  • slider bags
  • soil
  • seeds
  • nuts, branches, leaves, pine cones, tree bark
  • maps
  • board games and maths games
  • Domino
  • Puzzles
  • Plastic/wooden numbers
  • worksheets
  • Multimedia centre
  • computer
  • DVDs and CDs for kids

Water and Sand Centre (Sensory table)

  • Sensory table
  • Salt tray
  • Rice tray
  • Soil
  • Rice, coloured sand, pasta, corn, maize
  • Shaving foam
  • Bowls of different sizes
  • Corn maize
  • Sand toys
  • Bubble maker
  • Straws
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Twigs, tree bark, leaves, acorns, objects collected from nature
  • Sponges
  • Measuring cups
  • Tweezers for kids
  • Handy scoopers
Of course, the list can go on for pages! These are just a couple of suggestions. You can also use investigation drawers/boxes (for science), math boxes, literacy boxes, etc.

I'm working on new signs for the centres, so keep an eye on the blog to get the new freebie! :)

You can download the free science centre signs here:

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