Kindergarten learning centers are one of my favorite components in my classroom. Math and literacy centers have and always will be an essential part of my kindergarten classroom because I know how important hands-on learning is with five and six-year-olds. Sometimes I think we are so inundated with what we need to teach them that we forget how they need to learn! The benefits of using math and literacy centers are not just for the students, but you the teacher, as well. Once you get the hang of incorporating centers into your classroom, you will see how smoothly they can run!
Getting Started with Centers
The hardest part about introducing centers in your classroom, or any new classroom activity for that matter, is figuring out how to manage it all. The benefits of center time in your classroom is amazing, but can be a little intimidating at first. Here are a few things to think about before getting started:
- How many students do you want in each center? I personally like to have 2 students per center to they can help each other. If you have a large group of students, try 4 per center and provide 2 copies of the activity your students are working on.
- How long should each center be? The shorter, the better. Give your students enough time to get through an activity, but remember they will be working independently so we don’t want them to lose interest after too much time. I run my centers 12-15 minutes and clean up time is included in each rotation.
- How many centers should I have going at once? Depending on how many students you have, you can decide how many centers you need to keep the rotations running smoothly. You can read about the literacy centers I use in this post.
- How do my students know which center to go to? This is completely up to you since you know your class best. You can decide whether you want your students to choose their center each day or not. I personally like to have more structure when sending my students to centers. We use a pocket chart with a number to corresponds to each center and the students pictures next to each number. When it’s time to rotate, I just move the numbers down and my students know where to go next.
- What should the teacher be doing during centers? When you first introduce centers, I suggest not having anything else do to. This is a great time to walk around and make sure your students understand how centers work and be available to help them when needed. After a few weeks, this is the perfect time to pull small groups for extra help. You can have the teacher table listed as another number so your students know when it’s time to go to you, or you can pull students from centers as you see fit.
Setting up learning centers can be a lot of work and definitely take some creativity and planning. With everything else on your plate, it can be hard to muster up those creative juices, but don’t get discouraged! It can take several years to get your centers where you want them to be, and know that you can switch things up anytime you see that it’s not working anymore. A good way to start is by prepping a few centers each month and soon your collection will grow.
Why are Kindergarten Learning Centers Important?
I’ve already mentioned how much I love using centers in my room, so I wanted to share why I think they are so important!
- Learning centers give kindergarteners a sense of satisfaction. They are presented with a task, they follow the steps to complete the task. They are able to take the activity from start to finish and complete it.
- Kindergarten learning centers provide children with confidence. The activities you place in the learning centers are math and literacy concepts that have been previously taught. Your students are able to complete the centers independently and you can watch their confidence soar!
- Learning centers teach children to be independent. Little learners can become dependent on teacher assistance. Centers allow students an appropriate level of challenge so they can work independently to reach a solution.
- In addition to promoting independence, learning centers gives the teacher time to work with small groups and give extra attention to students in a smaller capacity. With the large numbers of students in our classrooms, any small group instruction you can provide is gold!
Tips for Creating Great Learning Centers
One of the hardest things about setting up learning centers is finding appropriate, engaging centers that allow your students to work independently, stay on task, and stay engaged. The last thing we need is our students to be wasting their time not able to complete the center, or not learning anything from it. Here are some tips to remember when creating centers:
- Learning centers need to be changed often to keep your students engaged and on task. The skills can stay the same, but the presentation should be changed. Your students can practice sight words all year long, but they will get bored using the same sight word center all year long.
- Play-based learning is always going to work best! Building words with blocks, dramatic play, using tweezers, etc.
- Make sure the activities you provide are differentiated and the appropriate level for your students.
- Use fun and engaging colors and clip art when possible.
- Keep the activities short so your students can complete a center in the time frame allotted. I find keeping centers at 12-15 minutes works best.
Centers for Your Classroom
Over the years, I have created several math and literacy centers for my students to use throughout the year. They are themed to keep engagement up and usually follow whatever concept we are learning that month. This is also a great way to integrate your science and social studies standards into your math and literacy blocks!
You can find these ready-to-go Math and Literacy Kindergarten Centers in my shop. They will help get you through the year without having to stress over planning what you’ll do for centers each month. They are also aligned with common core standards and differentiated for student abilities so you know your students will get the most out of their center time.
I created these centers to be play-based since I know that’s how kindergartners learn best. Just remember to include the centers that can be done independently. The concepts should be a review, not new learning.
The only extra supplies you will need are things that are already in your classroom (blocks, dice, tiny manipulatives, play-doh, etc.) These Math and Literacy Centers are not just a time-saver for you, they’re packed with activities that kindergarten learners will truly enjoy.
This bundle is a compilation of my favorite learning themes (construction, weather, community helpers, space, etc.) that can be used ANY TIME of the year!