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Monday, August 23, 2021


Thanks to Carolyn Kisloski for these fantastic center signs.


Learning centers are the most natural way to organize a classroom and encourage children to become active learners. Centers encourage children to make choices, explore at their own level, engage in hands-on discovery, solve problems, work with friends, use language, and be creative. Centers are also an effective way to use classroom materials, time, and space. Above all, learning centers capitalize on PLAY, which is the most meaningful and FUN way for children to learn.

Why use learning centers?

*Hands-on activities in centers provide many pathways to the brain and are engaging for young learners.

*Children can work at their own pace and level.

*Executive function skills of task initiation and task completion are nurtured with centers.

*21st Century Skills are enhanced as children cooperate with others, communicate, problem-solve, and think critically.

*Centers give children the opportunity to develop organizational skills and responsibility.

*Centers can provide children with purposeful practice for automaticity.

*Children take it in and take it in and take it in…and then something comes out! With centers we are laying a foundation by giving children a variety of rich experiences.


Just because children are playing, doesn’t mean they are not learning!!! Here are some center signs for you to post in your classroom to help parents, administrators, and other visitors recognize all the skills that children are developing.

Playing Makes You Smarter

How Did I Manage Centers?
Since I’ve been at this rodeo for over 50 years I have seen many ways to manage centers. There is no “right” or “wrong” way, but you do have to adapt to your district’s requirements, the age of your students, and your standards. In my kindergarten the students received a 
“contract” with ten centers they “got” to visit during the week. We did center rotation for 45 minutes at the end of the day when they were too exhausted to sit and listen. They got to choose where they went and how long they stayed in each center, but the goal was to do all ten activities by the end of the week. If they finished they got “Fabulous Friday”! What was Fabulous Friday?? They got to take their shoes off and do whatever they wanted. They LOVED it!!!


After visiting a center they colored it in and then raised their hand. My assistant walked around with a hole punch and would punch the activity after they explained what they did or learned. (During this time I could pull one or two students to give them extra help.)
Yes, I did limit the centers to 2 or 4 at a time. On Monday we’d go around the circle and they chose where they’d like to start. If a center already had four people they had to make another choice. When someone left a popular center then they could go there. This really worked itself out. If they wanted to stay in blocks all day Monday they could, but then they’d have to work a little faster the rest of the week to complete their centers by Friday. It was amazing how they became self-directed learners by the end of the year!