Variety is the spice of life. When we are teaching students, we are teaching individual people who happen to be in the same room. All of these little individuals have their own learning style, and it’s our job to reach all of them to the best of our ability. How can we cater to all of their needs at once? Learning centers are a great way to enhance student learning and reach a variety of learning styles.
What are Learning Centers?
A learning center, according to Teacher Vision, is an area of the classroom students can work on “independent and self-directed learning activities.” While learning centers can be for individual learning, you can also work in groups as well.
How Learning Centers Work
In each learning center, there are a variety of materials students will need in order to be successful for that particular activity. The materials in the learning center can be anything from art supplies, exploratory objects or puzzles, as well as technology. What you will need depends on the activity you are doing. The activity will depend on what you are currently working on in the classroom and is only limited by your imagination.
Types of Centers
While what happens in your centers is completely up to you and only limited to your imagination, there are a few different types of centers out there. Each type of learning center is meant for a different style of learning but each type of learning center can be used for a variety of subjects like math and literacy.
One type of learning center is the alternative learning center. This learning center gives students a chance to work with a lesson you have taught in a different way therefore a pre-lesson is necessary. In this learning center, students will be able to deepen their understanding of a concept you are currently learning about. For example, if you have been working with students on their money skills, you might incorporate a money game.
This money game would be in the math category. Other math learning centers you can use to enhance math skills are math review games like Squares Your Brain. This activity has three centers rolled into one with a variety of activity, games, as well as test prep material. You can also use a BUMP game to help with subtraction. If you’re looking for ELA games to help enhance learning in a learning center format, you can also look at BUMP games that help with phonics.
Whenever you are using these alternative centers, you want to make sure you know your students learning styles and gear your learning center activities to those unique learning styles.
In a building learning center, you are building on new skills that you have been working on in class. When you are building these skills, you want students to be able to practice as much as possible. A great technique for that is to use a variety of games online or looking at different activities on TPT.
For example, when you start talking about addition with your first graders, you can have them place a BUMP game to increase their skills. You can have students do this by themselves or in a group setting. There are also great activities out there for helping your students understand place value and a variety of other topics.
The whole purpose of building learning centers is to help develop your students’ skills by using a variety of learning styles. As I stated before, learning centers are great for differentiation.
Just For Kicks Centers
The third type of learning center is “Just for Kicks.” This type of learning center is great for learning something new through problem solving and critical thinking. When using these learning centers, they do not have to align with the curriculum, they can be just for fun.
A great time to use these learning centers is when you have some students who are ahead of others. When a student is done, they can go to a learning center and practice their typing skills on typing.com, learn about computer programming through code.org, try to make a structure hold a certain item like a book, or a variety of other ideas.
This type of center is great for students to use their imagination and develop some new interests. You can invite your students in on the designing of these learning centers. You will be amazing the ideas they come up with.
Learn with Learning Centers
There are so many great benefits to using learning centers in your classroom. Not only are they great for differentiating, they can also do the following:
- Reduce behavior issues because students are always busy.
- Creates an organized classroom.
- Students are engaged in interesting and learning enhancing activities
- Helps you see where students are excelling and struggling
Whenever you are creating your learning centers, you want to make sure you are considering:
- What you have learned in class
- The different learning styles of your students
- How to effectively organize your learning centers.
If you want to give learning centers a try but you’re unsure where to start, you can find a variety of learning center activities on TPT in Mrs. Shipley’s Classroom. There, you can find games, year-long learning center bundles that work for ELA and Math centers for a variety of grade levels.
This year, when you are setting up our classroom, consider learning centers as a way to enhance the learning in our classroom. Having students work on building and enhancing their skills will increase their understanding through the school year. Variety is the spice of life and learning centers help bring variety to your classroom.
Are you looking to learn how to implement and manage learning centers in your classroom! Check out Learning Centers Made Easy!