The ABC's of Preschool Centers

Have you ever stopped to think about which areas of your child’s mind are being challenged at each of the centers in the classroom? It is truly amazing what these children are learning all day long at preschool. Below you will find the goals of each of the centers in our classrooms and on the playground and how we achieve these goals. Remember, we also work diligently to spread each of the curriculum areas throughout the centers. This means that it is not unusual to see children working on math concepts in the art center, or writing in the pretend center. This is a vital piece of our curriculum because it helps the children connect their world in a meaningful way.

Art

Art is an important part of our curriculum. Everyday children find a variety of art materials available on the shelves. Drawing, painting, pasting, molding, and constructing are not only enjoyable but also provide important opportunities for learning.

-Expression of ideas and feelings
-Improves coordination
-Promotes color recognition
-Exploration of textures
-Develops creativity and pride

Blocks

The hardwood blocks you see in our classrooms are among our most valuable learning materials. Children often use blocks to represent the world around them. Blocks encourage:
 
-math concepts (volume, height, shapes)
-proportion (size, shape)
-problem solving (balance, building, sharing)
-cooperation and friendship

Circle Time

This is the most crucial part of the preschool day. Children are able to share with other children and teachers. Children develop a sense of belonging to a group, they are able to develop a sense of time and their environment (calendar, weather, etc.) and this time is used to develop the theme of the month through literature, songs, games, and discussion.

Dramatic Play

In this center children are able to take on different roles and enact real-life experiences. They are able to use props and their imagination to deepen their understandings about the real world.

-Playing “make-believe” helps to develop good vocabulary skills
-Encourages problem solving, cooperation, sharing and abstract thinking
-Helps children recall and recreate experiences (going to the doctor or grocery store)

Manipulatives

These include; puzzles, various table blocks, small construction materials, board games, and collections of objects (buttons, shells, etc.).
 
-Exploration
-Imagination
-Small muscle control
-Cooperation
-Problem Solving
-Content Area Concepts

Math

Children use a variety of materials to weigh, measure and graph. These opportunities give children a chance to develop a foundation of knowledge that will facilitate math concepts for future learning. Some materials would include unifix cubes, counting bears, shape sorters, matching cards, board games, and patterning cards. Use of these types of concrete materials encourages:
 
-Number exploration (counting, one-to-one correspondence)
-Patterning
-Sequencing
-Classification/Sorting

Playground

Physical exercise and fresh air are important for your child’s health and well-being.
-Outside time occurs every day so that children can run, jump, swing, catch and climb. This allows them to use all of their large muscles and develop large motor coordination.

-We talk about things children see, hear, touch, smell, and feel so they become aware of their surroundings (weather, seasons, plants, animals).

Sensory

Although you are probably used to seeing your children splash in the bathtub and dig in a sandbox, you may be surprised to know that the sand and water area is an important part of our school program. Both sand and water are natural materials for learning.

-When children pour water into measuring cups, they are exploring math concepts.
-When they drop corks, stones, feathers and marbles into a tub of water, they are scientists who are exploring whether objects sink or float.
-When they comb sand into patterns, they learn about both math and art.

Science

In our classrooms, the science area is a place where children explore and investigate to answer their questions. They do what scientists do!

-Observe, experiment, measure, solve problems, take things apart
-Make predictions
-Ask questions, plan and conduct investigations, gather information, explain, and communicate
-Learn important scientific concepts as they study plants, animals, magnets, light, rainbows, and much more.

Writing Table

This center makes writing interesting, meaningful, and most importantly…FUN.
The writing center is a great place to build confidence in self-expression. Children are able to experiment with a variety of writing materials (markers, crayons, colored pencils, chalk, pens, and various types of paper). Children are also encouraged to create different types of writing (mail, posters, labels, cards, drawings).