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The Learning Centers in Preschools

The Learning Centers in Preschools-Shilpa Potnis

Posted by Ms.Shilpa Potnis Friday, 08 September 2017

Young children learn best by experimenting with their environment through hands-on activities and play, which is why learning centers are such a vital part of the preschool classroom. Using learning centers to give children the hands-on experiences and play opportunities they need is important. However, there are a variety of factors that influence which learning centers would work best for your space, how you should set them up, and the materials you should include in each.

Through this blog, I shall try and assist you to identify these factors and make the process of setting up your preschool centers a little easier. We shall take one centre at a time and work towards setting up the same.

Art Center

art center

Having an art station as one of the learning centers in the classroom is important, because art helps children learn about self-expression and creativity. Being involved in art is a good way for children to develop fine motor skills and improve their hand-eye coordination.

Here are five steps that detail how to set up a preschool art learning center that's just right for your classroom:

1. Size and Location of Your Art Center

The first step in setting up your art center is to determine its size and location. Base your decision on how big the room is, how many other learning centers you're planning, and the number of children in your care. How many children you want to be in the learning center at one time will also influence your decision. Keep in mind that learning centers should accommodate at least two children at a time, but space for 3-4 children is better.

Place your art learning center near a water body if possible - this will make hand washing and clean up more convenient. An art learning center can be quiet or noisy depending on the activity. Always place this learning center next to other learning centers that vary in noise level, such as the literacy learning center, exploration learning center, or math and manipulatives learning center. These all are what we call the 'quite' centers.

2. Appropriate Furniture for Your Space

Easels and/or tables and chairs are needed in your art learning center to help children work comfortably. Whether you choose to use one or both types of furniture will depend on the size of the art center. Tables should have easy-to-clean work surfaces and chairs should be height appropriate for the children in your care. Double-sided easels are a great choice for small art centers, but tabletop easels are easy solutions if you'd like to have a more multi-functional space.

Be sure to leave room for storage cabinets to safely store paints and other materials children should not be able to easily access. A drying rack is another good furniture addition to your art space or better still tying a string in one corner of the room to place the art material for drying with clothes pins. You can also use a bulletin board room divider to display children's art work at a height level they can easily see.

3. Easy Clean Up with Mats and Aprons

No one wants to spend time trying to clean glitter, glue, or paint off of the classroom floor. Always have a designated area for arts and crafts with mats and/or art trays in place can help prevent a major mess. Use mats under easels and other furniture or place it on top of tables to better protect surfaces.

Aprons are another major necessity for art learning centers. Be sure to choose aprons that are easy to clean and are the correct size for the children in your care. Guide children to put these aprons on and remove on own so that they feel really independent!

4. Convenient storage space

There are a variety of art supplies available, so it's important that the materials you choose for your art center are organized and placed in appropriate storage containers. Art caddies, scissor racks, and art tubs are great storage solutions for materials that children need to easily access.

If your art center is small or you have to share art supplies between classrooms, a rolling art trolley can give you extra storage and help you keep everything organized and mobile. A paper center with a child-safe cutter can help you keep paper in one area of the center and will also enable you to have a variety of paper lengths available for children to use. Make use of waste paper as much as possible – newspapers, one side printed papers from offices, etc.

4. Convenient storage space

There are a variety of art supplies available, so it's important that the materials you choose for your art center are organized and placed in appropriate storage containers. Art caddies, scissor racks, and art tubs are great storage solutions for materials that children need to easily access.

If your art center is small or you have to share art supplies between classrooms, a rolling art trolley can give you extra storage and help you keep everything organized and mobile. A paper center with a child-safe cutter can help you keep paper in one area of the center and will also enable you to have a variety of paper lengths available for children to use. Make use of waste paper as much as possible – newspapers, one side printed papers from offices, etc.

5. Variety of Art Materials and Tools for Children to Use

Offer a variety of diverse art materials based on different levels of ability in your classroom's art center. Also, try and place materials that relate to other topics or experiences happening in class e.g. shells – while doing topics on ocean/ sea creatures. etc. Whether children are making a craft, drawing, or painting, the following suggested art materials and tools will help you supply your art center:

Suggested Art Materials for the center

Brushes, Crayons and Markers - Brushes, crayons and markers are important materials to have in any art center. I prefer using large easy-grip paint brushes as these are easier for younger children to grasp and use.

Paint & Paint Materials - Stock your art center with a variety of paints, including tempera paint, finger paint, glitter paint, and watercolor paint among others. Sponges, paint pots, and paint markers are also necessary paint supplies for art centers. Using spill proof paint bowls are an excellent way to keep the mess away.

Clay, Dough and Modeling Materials - Children will have fun using their hands to make creative statues and models with dough and modeling clay. Be sure to facilitate their creativity with rolling pins, shape cutters, beads or other decorative material.

Collage & Craft Materials - Offer a variety of art supplies for any collage or craft projects, including craft sticks, feathers, pipe cleaners, yarn, glitter, stencils, pom poms, googly eyes and more. Teachers may collect any knick knacks and decorations that come with packings during Diwali/ Navratri/ Christmas time.

Glue, Tape and Adhesives - Help children keep their art work together with tape, glue, and other adhesives. You can also reduce the chance of a mess occurring by using easy-to-use glue sticks.

Paper and Scissors - Stimulate children's senses by giving them the chance to use paper in different textures, colors, and sizes. Teacher must try and use waste paper as much as possible of varying textures. Also make sure the scissors available in your art center are safety scissors/ child friendly scissors. Variety can be added by placing zig-zag scissors also only once the children are proficient in the use of regular scissors.

Stampers and Stamp Pads - Stampers and stamp pads are a quick and easy way to create art projects for kids. A variety of stampers, including emotions, family, animals, letters, and numbers stampers, help make stamp projects fun and versatile. Teachers may also create their own stampers, e.g. pasting textured cloth/ jute to old stampers, collecting leaves and barks from trees, used bottle caps of different sizes and shapes, etc.

Chalk Materials - Take art activities outside with fun chalk materials or use chalk on chalkboards indoors. Children will love using sidewalk chalk and paint to create colorful works of art. Also, using the regular chalk, skate and a small duster will encourage the children to use the material more freely.

With these materials and ideas in place, you are all set to make your art centre into an educational fun experience where children will come willingly and create master pieces!