Here are five center ideas for your preschool or homeschool classroom.
1. Sensory Table- Place a variety of sensory materials for exploration on a table. Use items with scent, such as fresh fruit or flowers, scented playdough, and fresh baked bread for students to smell and write or draw their thoughts. Koosh balls, streamers, jello, cotton balls (wet and dry), sponges (wet and dry) and clay are all wonderful for tactile observation. If desired you can safely pre portion snack for students to taste, too. Use different textures and levels of sweet and/or sourness. Pickles, candy corn, raisins, unsalted and salted pretzels, grapefruit slices, orange slices and olives are all interesting for little taste buds. Create a printable chart ahead of time, listing a place the students can record their observations after tasting, touching and smelling items. It can be as simple as a happy or sad face they can circle, or they can write a thought if they are capable of such. Whatever you do, be sure to check with all parents about any potential allergies their children may have. Also, do not use items that children can choke on as tasting choices. Be sure to keep the edible items in a separate area on the table as to distinguish from the non edible items.
2. Water Table/Area- Using an area where water is accessible, create a place for cool hands on experimentation. Color mixing is one fun idea, but children will need to be supervised using food dye. Have a printable handy for the students to record their thoughts about what color might be made from the colors they choose to mix. You can use a simple printable showing the two colors to mix, and then let them color with crayon what their result was. If you have access to a basin, a boats and floats station is fun to do with water, also. Add several types of boats and items that will sink to a basket next to the basin. Have the students draw a picture of the object they plan to put in the water, and then circle a "thumbs up" if it floats, or a "thumbs down" if it sinks (you will need to put these "thumbs" on the page).
3. Featured Author- Choose an author to feature for your class each week or month. Create a corner with books from the author, printables to correspond with the books, and a fun snack related to one of the author's stories. Marc Brown, Mercer Mayer, Ja Brett, Eric Carle and other preschool authors have web pages full of printables and ideas to enrich this center.
4. Computer- Time on the computer is fine, as long as it doesn't become excessive. Choose 15 minute intervals for your child or students to play educational games such as Jumpstart Preschool.
5. Arts and Crafts- Choose one or several projects that your preschool children can do easily on their own. Even simple coloring sheets are great for small muscle control practice.