I have worked for different schools and districts, in different cities and countries, all with different budgets. Even with a limited budget, your classroom should be organized with at least seven centers that are well defined.
There should be ample space for circle time with adequate space for all children, and an area for small group meetings. There should also be good traffic flow throughout the classroom.
All centers must have an adequate variety of differentiated materials accessible to children for different types of intelligence, interests, skills, and even ages in the case of a Montessori environment. Most materials and shelves need to be neatly labeled with words and pictures to facilitate children’s independent handling and storage of materials.
The careful planning of the physical arrangement of the room is essential for the safety, supervision, and success of all the students.
“Our designs shape children’s beliefs about themselves and life. In a well-designated area, children are engaged and feel secure. A well-designated area can facilitate predictable, consistent, and intimate learning for each child.” (Anita Olds)
You can use the classroom shelves, rugs, and any classroom furniture available as the dividers of the centers you wish to have. Arrange the tables in workstations where students can select meaningful activities to work independently, in a small team, or pairs throughout all the centers.
If you have a self-contained classroom, some ideas for centers are:
- Math Center (Blocks Center, Building Center, Construction Center, Engineering Center, Fluency center, Math Reading and Writing Center, Word Problems Center)
- Language Center (Word Wall Center, ABC center, Phonics Center, Reading Center or Library, Writing Center or corner, Fluency Center)
- Science Center (Nature Center, Earth Center, Magnetic Center, Animals Center)
- Social Studies Center (Community Center, House Living Center, Creativity Center, Pretend and Learn)
- Computer Center (Technology Center, Listening Center)
- Art Center (Painting Center, Coloring Center, Sand and Water Tables, Painting Easel)
- Preliminary Exercises and Life Skills.
If you are departmentalized, then ideas for centers are:
For Math teachers:
- Computer Center
- Algebra Center
- Geometry Center
- Blocks Center, Puzzles Center, Construction Center
- Math Books Center, Math Reading, or Library,
- Math Writing Center, Word Problems Center.
- Fluency Center, etc.
For Language teachers:
- Word Wall Center, ABC Center.
- Phonics Center.
- Computer Center.
- Listening Center.
- Reading Center, or Library.
- Word Writing Center.
- Composition Center, etc.