George Lucas Educational Foundation

How to set up centers in your classrooms

How to set up centers in your classrooms

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Good evening everyone. I had a question presented to me by a first year 5th grade teacher. Her question was how do she begin to setup centers in her room. She said she needs some insite on how to set up reading and math centers in her classroom that will benifit all of her students needs. I suggested that she begin by studying what the students need the most and putting that to the fore front. What will be the best way students can really get the best out of these two centers. She began to share with me the many different needs of the students, from below level readers to the upper level readers. We also discussed math and where her kids stood in this area. The information that we gather we sat down and put all the data together and now we are ready to begin putting together our ideas. Does anyone have any suggestions to add to what we have already? Look forward to hearing from some of you soon. Thanks

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Allen Berg's picture
Allen Berg
curriculum and projects learning centers

Dear Demetria Parks,

My name is Allen Berg, I am a retired classroom teacher (K-University 30+ years :-) but I am still a teacher because I love to learn and share learning skills... I just became "Your Secret Weapon" for success...

I am very glad to meet you, because your question is exactly what I do and have done all my career...

If you like my introductory list of ideas, let me know and we can continue our conversation here at our Edutopia group...

First of all, it is Christmas month, so many communities and schools are in a frenzy about the Holiday if you and your
teacher(s) are very busy "just-surviving til Friday" mode, I will understand... But I will begin right now with a list of Learning Center Tools and Supplies and Procedures you can start using right now...

1. Make a LARGE Classroom Poster of the Numbers 1-100
Use a 10X10 Box Grid

1- 2- 3- 4- 5- 6- 7- 8- 9-10

(If you can create small versions of this chart on
8 and 1/2" x 11" paper to make copies for students to color
with crayons etc. that would be wonderful!!! :-)

Start by coloring the 2's times table with a light color that does NOT
hide the numbers in each box; like yellow or orange or sky blue etc.

Immediately, the students will see a PATTERN to the colored boxes!! :-)

You and they now have a Math Tool to use, to learn the Numbers from
1-100 in a Fun Art way...

They can now easily Predict every "Even Number from 1-100"
and they can Prove they are Correct...

to be continued...

2. Make a LARGE Poster/Chart of the Alphabet in your Classroom
Make it Colorful and Friendly...
1a. Immediately start writing a Student Name Poem everyday on the chalkboard or front board: You can start to reward "good behavior students" or other ways to start with student names...
A- Apple
L- Likes
L- Love
E- Everyday
N- Nice

D- Dreams
E- Eating
M- M&M's
E- Every
T- Time
R- Rock n Roll
I- Ice cream
A- Appears

3. If you have any Rulers in the classroom,
Circles in the classroom,
(Jar tops, Plastic yogurt tops, etc.)
Rectangles in the classroom
(cardboard boxes of all sizes, etc.)
Triangles (student foam shapes, or make your own
from cardboard, etc.)
Balls of yarn, string, etc
Use these with pencils and crayons to draw, make pictures on paper...

okay, that's plenty typing for me now...

check back here tomorrow...

your New Teaching/Learning Friend,

Allen Berg

(you can use the large paper rolls teachers often have for painting easels or cut open brown paper shopping bags and scotch tape them together, etc. Use whatever you have...)

Allen Berg's picture
Allen Berg
curriculum and projects learning centers

Dear Demetria,

Just remembered something that could be helpful, or even better...

Have your Teacher EXPLAIN the 2 Classroom Projects with the Students

AND-- Have her DIRECT/SUPERVISE the Students on How They Can Make the Posters for Their Own classroom for Fun:

1. Numbers Chart
a. Give every student a blank piece of paper (8 and 1/2" x 11" oe even better fold those papers DIAGONALLY so the Top Left Edge is folded down to meet and touch the the Right Side Edge of the paper... press and crease the fold, then with a pencil draw care-fully across the New Bottom Line/Edge, all the way across the paper as a new Stright Line
that is Horizontal, open the folded Triangle back up to its original position, the 8 and 1/2" x 11" paper now has a perfect SQUARE SHAPE
8 and 1/2" x 8 and 1/2" :-) Using safe scissors, the students cut the new Square- Shaped papers...Using Squares for the 1-100 Chart is much better... because Now each Student can write a Number(s) for the Chart and when it is put all-together, each Number Square will contribute to making on Giant Numbers Square: 1-100

And the Teacher can Supervise the Students Actvities... :-)
instead of having to make it him/herself!!! :-)

Win-Win-Win situation

Same for the Alphabet Poster!!!

Each Students Writes a Letter (with a Crayon etc.)
and the teacher Supervises the taping together of the entire Alphabet!!!

Win-Win-Win Situation

Have a Nice Day... :-)

to be continued...

Secret Weapon Allen

Allen Berg's picture
Allen Berg
curriculum and projects learning centers

Hello Demetria,

I am a man of my word, as promised here is the link to my "Education Fun" blog, specifically the page about the Bausch & Lomb 5X Magnifier Packette... for Discovery Learning Tool...

I know this subject was first mentioned in reply to your "Peer Mentoring" message, but I put it here in the "Setting up Learning Centers in the Classroom" Thread because that is what the "Magnifier Tool" is about...

Although as a "Kool Tool that Fits in your Pocket to Go Anywhere..."
it can be used as a "Valuable Peer Mentoring Tool" as well!!! :-)

"Listen up Junior, see this tool I got here in my pocket
in my hand...
This is Way Kool Tool see... We use it everday in 5th Grade Dude...
and I got my own now,
I carry it everywhere with me...Like you can see
real small invisible stuff you never seen before...
But like it's really there all the time,
you just don't have the Super Power Vision Tool,
that I got here... which I can show-ya Magic Vision Stuff
all around the Neighborhood or in the Park
or basically Anywhere... where we hangout together...

You ever see a Dollar Bill really close-up!?
You won't believe it Dude, but it's REAL!!!..."
Here, let me get a President outa my pocket,
Hold onto to this Tool and slide it open like this...
Check it out, 5th Grade is Kool..."


Allen Berg's picture
Allen Berg
curriculum and projects learning centers

Dear Demetria,

I just took 7 photographs of a Dollar Bill "really close-up"
using my Bausch & Lomb 5X Magnifier Tool and posted them
in my Picasa Public Web Albums, with brief caption text notes
for each photograph.

Here is the link:

"Pictures are the Proof." :-)

Of course if you like any of these Learning Center examples,
share them with your Teacher Friends and School Principal, etc.
"Knowledge is Power" and "Learning can be Fun."

Your new Friend and Colleague,

Allen (Berg) at

Sonia's picture
primary teacher

I saw your post and had to smile because I have been working on developing centers in my grade 3 class. It has been a challenge. I wanted to develop centers that would particularly engage and motivate the boys to read and write. I decided to look at developing my literacy centers with options that included "boy friendly" activities. For example in the creation station I included items such as crayons, pastels, etc. as well as lego, gear blocks, magnets, and the sport section of newspapers. Students were to create and write. I have been pleased with how the students, particularly the reluctant writers have built, drawn, or glued pictures to produce very creative stories. I took a picture of each student with their creation and posted it on the bulletin board with their stories. Another center is the topic box where I put non fiction books on a topic we are studying such as space. One activity is for students to find 4 facts. I begin a bulletin board and students add to it ie. stars, asteroid, etc. however whatever they add to the display needs to have one of the space facts they recorded and there can be no repetitions. I found 4-5 centers was manageable.
I'd love to hear more about your centers.

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