Learning centers are great for homeschools, however, sometimes the problem can be to come up with learning center ideas.
Why Learning Centers?
There are numerous benefits to using learning centers in your homeschool:
- Learning centers are a great way to reinforce ideas that have already been taught.
- If you have multiple age groups, learning centers provide something educational for other kids to do while you are working with one child.
- Having your children work at learning centers helps encourage independence.
- Learning centers are also a great way to practice skills that simply need to be repeated over and over.
Great Learning Center Ideas
Remember, learning centers do not have to be complicated and they do not need to be fancy or stocked full of the newest supplies from your local education store. Neither do you need to have a lot of space for learning centers. They can be stored in file folders, on three paneled display boards that can then be slide behind a bookshelf, or even in Ziploc bags. Here are a few easy-to-put-together ideas for creating your own learning centers.
Preschool to First Grade Ideas
- Puzzles: They are much easier for little hands to take out and put away independently if you cut the picture off of the puzzle box and store the picture and pieces in a plastic storage container.
- Small chalkboard and chalk with an eraser: Little hands using chalk helps develop fine motor skills. For extra practice you can laminate some letter cards and leave them in the bag with the chalkboard.
- A box full of different colored beans: Put the beans out for your little ones and before you know it you will have little kids counting, creating patterns or even working on art collages.
- Magnetics on a cookie sheet: Letters and numbers provide great practice, but you can easily make shapes or other practice skills by using magnetic tape on the back of cut outs.
- Scissors and paper: With a little imagination, you've created an instant art center.
- Watercolors: Watercolors are a fairly non-messy way to get some creative art experiences into the day!
- Sidewalk chalk: Put the sidewalk chalk in a bag or a bin and send the kids outside. For a child who is just learning how to read, have them do their spelling list in sidewalk chalk. (They will beg to spell from that day forward.)
- Role playing centers: Role playing encourages language skills. Whether you stick all of your measuring cups and a mixing bowl in a box for exploration, or provide some dress up clothing, you are sure to find that your little ones will know exactly what to do!
For students who can read, providing a card with some simple directions is a great way to get your kids working independently at a center.
- Matching magnets: What are your children working on right now? Whether it's learning the names of states and capitals or learning the water cycle, you can easily cut up a labeled poster and ask children to match the names to the pictures.
- Math manipulatives: Wrap-Ups, Cusiniere Rods, linking cubes or counting links-all of these make excellent math centers.
- Magnifying Scavenger Hunt: Send your kids outside on a nature scavenger hunt with a magnifying glass, a sketchbook (or blank paper), and a list of things to find. Chances are good they'll find more than you asked for!
- Microscope and slides: Make sure to help focus the microscope first and encourage your student to draw what he or she sees.
Independent Learner Ideas
For kids who are reading and writing fairly well on their own, a little advanced preparation can go a long way to keep your child working independently.
- Book report center: Keep your child's favorite book or current reader along with supplies to respond to the book. Colored pens, scrapbooking paper, stickers and stamps always make for interesting book reporting.
- Simple sewing: A simple sewing project makes an easy center. Printed cross-stitch, a simple stuffed pillow or animal or a kit can go into a simple sewing basket and be put out as a center.
- Academic scavenger hunt: A list of questions and a pile of resources and you can send your child to trace the history of Columbus Day, learn about Da Vinci, or find out more about the International Space Station.
- Music appreciation: Make that beloved iPod work for your homeschool. Assign famous music, well known operas, or even something more modern for a quick jaunt
- LoveToKnow Homeschooling's [[Category:Worksheets and Printables|worksheets and printables] can be laminated for use with a dry erase marker for a reusable center.
More Learning Center Resources
Whether you have money to spend or are looking for some more ideas make sure to check out some of these great resources:
- Teachers everywhere know about Mailbox Magazine. They have a variety of resources for preschool through sixth grade.
- Teacher File Box is a massive collection of file folder activities from Evan Moor books.
- Teaching Heart's Learning Center Page provides a great resource for ideas, printables, and more!