Activity Centers

Dramatic Play Center
Sand & Water Center
Art Center
Puzzles & Manipulatives Center
Reading & Writing Center
Blocks Center
Music & Movement Center
Science & Cooking Center

Dramatic Play Center

Materials: Dress-Up (Clothes, uniforms, shoes, bags/pocketbooks, necklaces, sunglasses, jewelry, mirror); Housekeeping (kitchen, dishes, tea pot, pitchers, pretend foods, utensils); Miscellaneous (Dolls and stuffed animals, blankets, pillows, baskets, doll clothes, wagon)

Purpose: Young children love to dress up and pretend.  Family and home are very important to a young child.  By imitating, reviewing, pretending and acting out experiences (past and present) young children further their understanding of the world around them.  As young children become more actively involved in complex make-believe, they further develop their language because of the necessity to listen and respond to each other.  Dramatic play is one of the precursors to literacy.

When children dress themselves, they are developing eye-hand coordination that fine-tunes both their fine and gross motor skills.

Teachers both motivate and enhance the play by adding, deleting, and changing props and cognitive thinking is encouraged by asking open ended questions.

Through dramatic play children practice negotiating skills because in order for the play to continue and sustain itself, the children must interact socially. In this child-sized version of the world, children feel safe and free to express how they feel about themselves and others.

Sand & Water Center

Materials: For sand (various-sized containers, sifters, funnels, scoopers, construction vehicles, buckets); For Water (various-sized containers, scoopers, funnels, pitchers, sponges, egg beaters, measuring cups, food color, soap, boats and dolls)

Purpose: Children need to feel that they can control and manage their world. By playing with sand and water, children can safely and successfully experiment without the fear of making mistakes, because there is no incorrect way for them to use the open-ended materials provided. Sensory materials are often a favorite of very young children and help them understand their environment through touch and observation. Hence, the beginnings of science basics.

The sand and water table is often a safe spot for an angry or upset child because it is both soothing and comforting. Water and sand activities provide countless opportunities for language development. As small groups of children work and play together they develop fine motor skills and descriptive language. They investigate, observe, describe, and discuss their activity stimulating social interaction.

Art Center

Materials: Paper, glue, paint, shaving cream, collage and found materials, scissors, clay, play dough, goop, crayons, materials found from nature.

Purpose: Children are encouraged to explore materials in their own way. This exploration offers them the opportunity for personal observation and self-awareness. They experience art as a pleasurable outlet and use it to encounter and represent feelings and events. Our focus is on the process rather than the final product, allowing children to enjoy the sensory experience instead of being overly-concerned with how something might look.

Puzzles & Manipulatives Center

Materials: Pegs and boards, unifix blocks, Legos, pattern blocks, bristle blocks, sorting toys (shape, size, color), puzzles (animals, shapes, transportation, numbers, objects), lacing cards.

Purpose: Manipulatives and puzzles are structured learning materials that have fixed size, color, shape, weight, and texture. They challenge children's perceptual-motor skills and contribute to their ability to think and make order. Open-ended manipulatives allow children to be creative as they arrange and rearrange colors, sizes and shapes. Puzzles with fixed solutions may attract children who shy away from the non-structured materials, providing the opportunity to explore, correct, test and retest.

Reading & Writing Center

Materials: Books, book case, paper, crayons, markers, colored pencils, chalk, stencils, flannel board, magnetic board, magnetic letters, chalkboard.

Purpose: Through handling books, a child's natural curiosity helps him discover that books are fun, exciting, and give information. A child becomes aware that symbols in books represent things and ideas. Reading with a teacher, the child learns to associate letter names with letter sounds, learns the concept of left and right, and comes to understand that drawings are associated with printed words.

Writing is the natural counterpoint to reading. Children are encouraged to express themselves through drawings, verbal storytelling, and even initial attempts at writing. A variety of materials assist in the story-telling process.  In addition to developing fine motor skills, pre-writing activities build a sense of self-confidence and an increased ability to communicate.

Blocks Center

Materials: Unit blocks, hollow blocks, cardboard blocks, trains, animals, fabric pieces, cars and trucks.

Purpose: Building with blocks involves all areas of learning. Blocks encourage children to form a community, to play cooperatively, and to problem solve. Through play, they increase physical development as well as a sense of measurement, spatial relations, and differentiation of various shapes and sizes.

Children work on small and large motor skills by learning to control the lifting and arranging of blocks. Block building also demonstrates mathematical concepts such as one-to-one correspondence, counting, matching, sorting.

Music & Movement Center

Materials: A variety of rhythm instruments, circle-time props, hand-puppets, pictures, toys, hollow blocks.

Purpose: Children need ample opportunities to experiment with what their bodies can do. This center encourages movement through the use of both musical instruments and large hollow blocks.

Drums and other rhythm instruments help children explore rhythm, music and movement. In addition, the children build ramps and bridges with large, hollow blocks which they can then play on. Singing is often used during free play to describe what children are doing, to help with transition times and to reach children experiencing difficulties.

Science & Cooking Center

Materials: Fresh and dried ingredients, different-sized bowls, measuring spoons and cups, cookie cutters differing in size and shape, live classroom pets, seeds, soil, plants, seashells, rocks, sand and water play.

Purpose: Cooking and observational science experiments engage all of a child's senses. The child is encouraged to touch, smell, manipulate, taste (when appropriate), compare, and note similarities and differences. Cooking, planting, caring for our pets, and observing seasonal and daily weather conditions let the children experience and acknowledge change. Children gain experience with measuring, comparing shapes and sizes, estimating, and the concepts of more or less. These are the beginning math and science concepts which provide a strong foundation for future learning.