Elementary Learning Centers: Ideas for Teachers

Learning centers allow students to discover and learn independently or in small groups. Below are three ideas for centers that can be adapted for any elementary classroom.

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Why Are Learning Centers Important?

Children learn best when they can explore concepts using interactive materials. Learning centers are effective in the classroom because students are able to learn at their own pace and be engaged with hands-on activities. Centers also give you time to work with small groups or individually with struggling students. When you design your learning centers, be sure you create activities that involve all the senses, to benefit students who have different learning styles. Successful learning centers will help students develop skills, teach them responsibility and independence, and also keep them from becoming bored.

Spelling with Fun Letters

This center will allow students to practice spelling and writing in a unique way that will benefit kinesthetic and visual learners. Get alphabet stickers or magnetic letters and have your students practice their spelling words. You can make a game out of this by using a timer. Put students into pairs and see who can correctly spell the most words in five minutes using the stickers or magnetic letters. This center can be adapted by having younger children practice writing their names or the alphabet. Similarly, older students can construct sentences.

Math Menu

This math center allows students to practice adding and subtracting money in a fun way. Beforehand, you will have to make a restaurant menu. One student will role-play as the customer and another student will act as the server.

The customer should order a drink, a main dish and a dessert. The server will have to total the bill and the customer will count out fake money. Finally, the server will have to provide the correct change to the customer. The students can then switch roles. The menu can be complex, with many choices and price ranges for older students, or can be very simple for younger children.

Writing Telephone Game

The telephone writing learning center is an opportunity to practice listening and writing skills, while getting a little giggle in at the same time. The first person will write a phrase down on a piece of paper, then whisper it to the person next to her. Then, the second person will write down what he heard and tell it to the next person. This will continue down the line. The final person will write down what she heard, then say the phrase out loud.

The kids can compare what they wrote down and see where the phrase started to change. With younger children, you can write easy phrases on note cards and the student can read the phrase and whisper it to the next person with no writing involved.

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