Are you an Early Childhood Special Education Teacher? Do you have centers in your class? If so, come take a sneak peek in to my classroom centers! I’m an Early Childhood Special Education Teacher in a Pre-K Co-Teach Classroom. I have a mixture of full day students and part time students ages 3-5 years old. Our district requires us to have a minimum of eight centers. Read more to see how I use my centers for gathering data and how I use them for my 3 year olds.
Light tables (affiliate link) are so fun! The light table is usually it’s own center with it’s own activities. Occasionally, it is added to a center such as our vet theme which we used as an x-ray machine. Usually, we have activity related to the theme and have upto two people at this center at one time. For example, we may have the students sort the shapes, have a sheet on the light table so the students can match the shape on the sheet or students can combine like shapes together on the table. These are more academic ideas. There is really so much we can do with this table. Do you have a light table in your room?
Our science center (like all centers) change with the themes. Above you will find that during our animal theme we focused on animal habitats. For the weather theme, my co-teacher made these incredible sensory bottles which the children really enjoyed. Our purpose for the science center is to encourage students to ask questions and investigate. Students are provided with books to conduct their research and clip boards to encourage them to take “notes” as they investigate. We limit this center to two students.
Water Table & Sand Table
The sandbox and water table are my favorites! I love to use these for my students who attend part time and have IEP goals addressing social skills and/or communication. There is so much opportunity here for language, repetition, turn taking, fine motor, social skills and so much more! As you can see above, I had one of my 3 year olds give a baby a “bath”. Oh my goodness! We had so much fun while practicing functional everyday words. I try to write my IEP goals in a way that they can be assessed throughout the day during play and unstructured times such as centers and recess. Center time is the perfect time to teach skills through modeling, repetition and using peer models.
Sensory bins are THE best! I always have one sensory in our pre-k classroom related to the theme and big enough for up to two students to play with together. You can read more about sensory bins HERE. I use the individual sensory trays for my part time students who have accommodations for sensory breaks in their IEP’s.
Fine Motor/ABC Center
At our ABC center, we have opportunities for students to play incorporating words, letters, opportunities to trace and more. I have the beads that your put through a string to make words, I have tracing mats, syllable trays with actual objects, and sandpaper letters.
The items are rotated with the theme to keep things exciting and new. I usually have to sit at this center and model how to do the activities to get students engaged. For more fine motor activities that are easy to set up, check out Fall Fine Motor Centers. You will find fun fine motor activities that are easy to set up. You can also check out 5 Ways to Utilize Play-Doh.
Dramatic play is a must in every Pre-K/Kinder classroom. Children are encouraged to use their imagination while working on important skills such as language, sharing, pretending, writing, waiting, reading and taking care of our class items. We allow up to four students at this center at once.
Teachers model how to take turns, clean up, and waiting. A dramatic play center should have vocabulary related to the theme, visuals, props, costumes, books, and a clipboard or notebook to encourage writing.
A popular center is our lego center and construction centers. The boys love to build and pretend with the blocks or legos. Do you have a lego table? I love that the students love it but it is a bit bulky.
Library + So Much More
Love that my classroom has a window this year! Yay for natural light! Our Library center has availability for up to three students. We have a mixture of themed books and class made books with our class projects. The students love seeing their projects in a book and looking at their classmates as well. In addition to our library, we have a writing center, dollhouse center, math center, art center and puzzle center! These centers are in areas around the room or in the closet until we pull them out. Puzzles are on our whole group carpet next to the dollhouse. Center are so much fun to set up but a lot of work! The goal is that the students are engaged while learning.
Center may look a little different in my class due to the part time/self contained students. My afternoon centers are based more on IEP goals, which are usually language based, play based such as using a toy for its purpose or social skills. Please comment below on how many centers you have in your classroom. Do you have a limit of students at each station as well? Do you teach or probe during centers? Let me know below! Until next time!