10 Ideas for Using Learning Centers
By Carolyn Ross Tomlin

Learning centers, often called zones or stations, provide a variety of curriculum activities using cognitive modes of learning, such as visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. By using centers in your program, you can reach all children in the way they learn best.

All of the following ideas use inexpensive materials that require little preparation. You'll be amazed at how quickly your program turns into a "super-center."

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Connecting Children to Their Cultures and Communities
By Francis Wardle, Ph.D.

Early childhood programs and schools are part of a community. They reflect that community—its people, values, businesses, and resources. When I taught at PACERS school in Kansas City, Missouri, we actively used the community as a learning resource. We often visited Kaleidoscope (Hallmark Cards) to do art projects; our students pretended to drive the tractors, combines, and hay rakes at the Agriculture Hall of Fame; and we participated in historic events and activities at a 1850’s outdoor museum.

On a weekly basis we used the Jewish Community Center swimming pool for lessons, went bowling, practiced ice skating at the local rink, and visited the public library (Wardle, 1978). We also used the Kansas City Learning Center (a teacher resource center), visited Loose Park Rose Garden, and enjoyed the Harry Truman Museum in Independence, Missouri.

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Refresh Your Learning Centers
By: Marie E. Cecchini, MS

Learning centers are the mainstay of any early childhood program. Centers divide the classroom into sections, allowing children to move freely and teaching them about making choices. Centers encourage learning through self-discovery, promote independence, and help children develop a sense of responsibility. They also offer opportunities for a large number of children to learn individually or in small group settings where the teacher can take advantage of moments of readiness, interest, and desire to learn. Children do their best learning when they are actively engaged. Learning centers help the early childhood educator achieve this goal.

For children to benefit from centers, they need to use them. And, in order for children to use them on a regular basis, centers must be continually inviting. This is why it is necessary for early childhood teachers to “refresh” centers often. Periodic updates maintain variety and offer children with relatively short attention spans continuous stimulation in all areas of learning. As an educator, you want your centers to invite your children in and then challenge them to participate and learn.

Outdoor Classroom Learning Centers – The Sky’s the Limit!
By Sharron Krull

Open the door and turn your learning environment inside out. Maximize outdoor play by moving learning centers outdoors, opening up new possibilities for stimulating children’s creativity, self-discovery, and imagination. Children can do virtually anything outside that they can do inside—the sky’s the limit! By providing outdoor learning centers, teachers can change materials and props depending on the interests and ideas that emerge from the children. Whether you have green space or not, here are some ideas of what centers you might include in your outdoor learning environment.

Arts, Crafts & Creativity
Anna Reyner, M.A.

CREATIVITY'—what a wonderful word!

Creativity is one of those words that is bursting with VITALITY. It's full of life, full of passion, and full of spirit. Creativity has positive associations for nearly EVERYONE.

Do YOU make a habit of CREATIVITY? Do you ever think or say, “On our playground, creativity is a priority?” If creativity is one of your priorities, here are Seven Good Things for You to Know about the value of arts and crafts in child development.

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