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LESSON PLAN IDEAS

Learning Centers, also called “Learning Stations”, are situations around the classroom that a teacher sets up for students to work in either small group or individual activities. Each of these centers has supplies and materials that work well together and give students the tools to complete activities and mini-projects — either in groups of two to three students or individually.
How can you nurture student understanding of the topic by setting up learning centers? What types of learning centers are appropriate? Classroom size, students’ interests, and grade level will help you determine your decision.
NOTE: Although learning centers are typically found more often in elementary and middle school classrooms, this technique has been found to be effective with high school students as well.

Some great learning centers you may want to consider:

  • READING/WRITING CENTER
    (for encouraging students’ Verbal/Linguistic; Visual/Spatial; Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Intelligences)
    • Fiction and non-fiction books on a variety of topics, in many genres
    • Illustrated books
    • Books on tape with related book in hard copy
    • Books, articles, and papers written by students
    • Cushions for quiet reading or for group discussion
    • Word games (Boggle, Wheel of Fortune, Scrabble, Password)
    • Creative writing tools (variety of pens, paper, etc.); tape recorder; magazines that can be cut up for images; story starter books and cards
    • Yellow pages; other address resource books
    • List of addresses and phone numbers of relevant organizations
    • Computer with color printer: concept mapping software, word processor, e-mail and Internet connection
    • Multimedia presentation tools (e.g. HyperStudio, PowerPoint etc.)
  • ILLUSTRATION/VISUAL EXPRESSION CENTER
    (for encouraging students’ Visual/Spatial; Intrapersonal Intelligences)
    • Canvas or drop cloth
    • Painting (acrylics, watercolors, poster paints, finger paints) and drawing materials (pens, pencils, colored chalk)
    • Easel, bulletin board, chalk board, drawing boards or tables
    • Flat file storage
    • Props for still lifes
    • Variety of clip-on flood lights, flashlight, colored gels
    • Cameras (35mm, disposable, digital)
    • Computer with color printer and scanner: e-mail and Internet connection
  • SCIENCE/EXPERIMENT CENTER
    (for encouraging students’ Logical/Mathematical, Naturalist, Visual/Spatial Intelligences)
    • Field guides and science resource books
    • Popular science magazines
    • Biographies of scientists and inventors
    • Exploration and experimentation tools
    • Magnifying glass, microscope, telescope, or binoculars
    • Megaphones, cones and microphones
    • Measurement devices (rulers, graduated cylinders, etc.)
    • Bug jars and boxes, plastic containers for collecting specimens (botanical, entomological, geological, etc.)
    • Teacher-written index card challenges “What happens if you…” (students make predictions, then conduct experiments)
    • Computer with color printer: probe-ware, robotics, spreadsheets, and time-liners. Science-based software such as The Voyage of the Mimi (Sunburst), The Great Space Rescue (Tom Snyder Software) and reference CD-ROMs
  • MUSIC CENTER
    (for encouraging students’ Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Interpersonal Intelligences)
    • Mat on the floor
    • Cassette or CD player with headphones (optional: jack so that two students can listen to same music at the same time)
    • instruments from a variety of multicultural backgrounds
    • Books about famous composers and musicians
    • Books of poems and stories that students can set to music
    • Books of collected lyrics
    • Computer with microphone, speakers, and earphones plus MIDI connector and keyboard: music composition software, CD-ROMs designed for music study, CDs for incorporating sound into multimedia presentations
  • MATH CENTER
    (for encouraging students’ Logical/Mathematical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal Intelligences)
    • Puzzles and games that involve logical thinking (looking for patterns, sequences, process of elimination, inference, etc.)
    • Arithmetic and graphing calculators with instructions on how to solve common types of problems (e.g. percentages, averages, etc.)
    • Maps, charts, timelines, Web sites — vivid examples of how math and logical thinking can relate to social studies, science and language arts
    • “Math manipulatives,” such as Unifix cubes, pattern blocks, Cuisenaire rods, and geo-boards
    • Computer with color printer and links to download data from graphing calculators, spreadsheet, graphing, and 2 and 3D geometry programs
  • BUILD-IT, PAINT IT CENTER
    (for encouraging students’ Visual/Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Logical/Mathematical Intelligences)
    • Materials for attaching things to other things (glue, staplers, sewing materials, nails and screws, pins, clips, etc.)
    • Wood, metal, Styrofoam, recycled containers, bottles, cardboard, and tools to work with them
    • Various types and colors of paper and cardboard (for creating a homemade board game, etc.)
    • Variety of writing implements (markers, crayons)
    • Variety of fabric scraps
    • Modeling clay
    • Large rolls of mural paper for scenery backdrops for performances
    • Computer with color printer: developmental level design software (younger students use Car Builder; middle school might use Roller Coaster Builder; older students need CAD-CAM (computer assisted design-computer assisted manufacturing) software and Internet connection
  • PERFORMANCE CENTER
    (for encouraging students’ Visual/Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Interpersonal)
    • Wigs, costumes, shoes
    • Washable makeup
    • Masks
    • Props
    • Cassette or CD-player for background music
    • Stage area


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