All About Centers

I talk about centers quite a bit in my posts so I thought I would explain how they work and different activities you can include. Have you done centers before? Well if so, you’d know they are a great tool for differentiation, small group instruction, and a chance for students to use their creativity. Students enjoy them and they can be fun for teachers too!

There are a couple ways you can plan centers; you can create them to be subject-specific or a variety of subjects in an allocated time for centers. For example, you can have reading centers, or you have have math, grammar, and a science center during one allocated time.

Subject-Specific Centers

I personally have done math and reading centers during a reading time block or math time block, and both have worked great. For the purpose of not dragging on the post, I’m going to focus on reading centers. You can plan your reading centers to have three stations: in the first station, students are with you reading a book that is catered to their level. During this time you can go over reading strategies and ask students individual questions to really see how they are are improving. In another station, you can have an activity set up for the group. This can be a educational game, you can provide questions for them to ask each other, or have them draw a picture about what they just read (depending on their level). In the third station, students can work independently on an assignment you have given them or something they choose to do.

Multi-Subject Centers

Say you allocate 45 minutes-1 hour a week or twice a week at the end of the day for centers. This would be a great time to utilize centers as a tool to have students review what they learned throughout the day or week. For example, you can set up three stations, each focusing on a different subject. One station can be a science experiment, another can be a math game, and the third can be a “catch-up” station in which students catch-up on work they need to finish. You can really integrate a variety of activities in these stations that students will enjoy and will allow them to move around the classroom.

Other Center Ideas: 

  • Research Station – students can use this time to research a topic that interests them or work on a project assigned by you
  • Writing Station – students write letters, poems, journal entries. Have stamps, stickers, and different colored pencils so they can have fun with it
  • Game Station – Always aim to make it educational of course. You can even have your students create a game!
  • Building Station – Give students a bunch of materials and have them build something with it!
  • Free Choice – It’s always great to give our students choices. Let them choose from a list of activities something they can do.

What are some stations or activities do you have in your classroom?