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Daycare Center and Family Home Forum>Your Thoughts On Centers
cheerfuldom 09:25 PM 09-12-2013
*centers meaning the way your playroom is set up......

If there is any previous good discussions on centers, please link! I am going to dig thru some old threads but if any mods can help me out, that would be great.

if you do use centers, what ages to you take at daycare? and do you have time limits to the centers? what centers do you have? do you rotate the center themes or is it basically the same items in each area most of the time?

For anyone, what do you like about centers? and what don't you like?

Right now my playroom is tidy and organized but I dont really have centers. Beginning this winter, I won't be taking any more kids under one year old and would like to start going more towards centers in our playroom, especially since I have some older ones (two 4 year olds and a 6 year old) that are looking for some more challenging play versus just randomly pawing thru stuff like the toddlers.
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nanglgrl 11:46 PM 09-12-2013
I have centers and I love it.
I only take ages 1-6 but all of my children tend to be between 1 1/2-4.
There are certain pieces to the centers that are always out and other pieces that I just get out on occasion. I also add monthly theme items to the centers. The children are free to do what they want and they handle it well. They do gravitate towards the dramatic play loft but when it gets busy over there they break up on their own.
We have a sand/water center, science/sensory center that's usually related to our theme, music center, block center, large motor center, dramatic play center, computer center,, math/manipulatives center and writing/art center.
I wouldn't change it at all. Even though there are plenty of items to play with they really don't make that big of a mess and they play all day. Really besides meals and circle time I could just sit and watch them all day. They never say they're bored and rarely fight but their play does get incredibly complex and imaginative! Every once in a while I have to tell them to pick up a few things so toys aren't being stepped on and with my group I can just say "everyone pick up 5 toys" and most of them do and the room is good to go for another hour or so! lol.
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Cat Herder 05:24 AM 09-13-2013
I have a group area and centers for individual play. The areas are separated by half walls.

I rotate out themes on all but one, it stays a soft reading area with puzzles, books and chalk boards (the original dry erase marker boards was a BAD idea ).

Kids, like adults, get tired of being forced to spend every minute of their 10 hour day in direct physical contact with other kids. I give them another option...

The kids use them at will and if I notice they all are choosing the centers more than the group area.... I step up my game.
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LK5kids 06:21 AM 09-13-2013
I have housekeeping/dress up clothes, sensory table, art area with playdoh, easel, markers, oil pastels, small science area, as I have mostly 2 yrs and under with one 5 yr old, block center, puzzles & manipulatives, & a book corner.

I do not set a timer or rotate kids...it's all personal choice.
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spinnymarie 07:32 AM 09-13-2013
I have some more general centers, since the playroom is in our living space. If I had a dedicated play room (some day!) I'd have true centers.
Right now we just have: puzzles/games, dress up/kitchen/dolls, blocks/legos/action figures/cars, art, little people/doll house, baby toys.
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spinnymarie 07:36 AM 09-13-2013
Oh I forgot the reading center, and to actually answer your questions:
No I don't switch toys out at this point, the kids are allowed free choice within the play time, the kids are 18m - 4.5y.
I love centers, I need the toys to be organized for my own mental health Clean up takes a while, but as long as there are a few big kids it's no big deal.
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AcornMama 07:53 AM 09-13-2013
My "centers" are three corners of my living room. Well, former living room, now preschool play room. One corner is a reading corner: books, chairs, pillows. One corner is dramatic play: toy kitchen, baby dolls, dress up stuff. One corner is blocks and puzzles.

All of my art and otherwise messy stuff is in another room because the living room has carpet. I wish it were all in one big room so that some kids could do art while others read or play with dolls. But as it is, I have to use one room at a time.

I don't know that centers are terribly important, but I think that others, like parents and consultants, think they are important. So I use it as an organization tool that gets me bonus points with parents.
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blandino 08:03 AM 09-13-2013
For centers we have:

Play kitchen

Drawing table (with magnadoodles velcroed to the table)

Reading center/cozy corner. Foam couch with pillows and a bucket of books.

Another empty table for playing with toys, or sometimes I will choose an activity for that table.

I don't do too many centers because of the he of my kids, 3 & under, and all the loose pieces mixing and winding up all over the place.
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WImom 08:39 AM 09-13-2013
Okay those with centers can they still take toys where ever or do they stay in that center?
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Patches 09:06 AM 09-13-2013
I have centers, but they are very small and not as defined as they would be in a child care center. They are:

Music:
I have some instruments that I switch out every month or so.

Science:
Try to tie this into our theme. Right now I have some forest animals and binoculars in there. Sometimes I'll put some sensory bottles out. I have a young group so I don't keep magnets or anything like that out at all times.

Block/Manipulatives:
This is my biggest center. It takes up 2 shelves. I've actually been thinking about scaling it down a bit.

Reading center:
A child sized couch and chair with a bookshelf of about 15 books (usually tied into our theme) and a basket of puppets or stuffed animals (also tied into our theme).

Dramatic Play:
I have some pictures of this in the décor group. It is my under the stairs closet that I turned into a "playhouse" It has the kitchen, play phones, babies, and dress-up.

Cars:
I have a bin of cars and a "road" on the floor

Baby Toys:
Two bins of baby toys since I have 4 infants right now
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littleblossoms 09:06 AM 09-13-2013
Originally Posted by WImom:
Okay those with centers can they still take toys where ever or do they stay in that center?
I have centres with the book shelves as dividers, reading, cras, blocks, musical.

My kds start at 11 months and the oldest is 2.5 years.

I teavh the children right away not to move toys from one centre to the other. As soon as i see them moving a book for example crawling out with book in their hand from the reading corning I put the child back in the reading corning with book, if the child geys up set then I remove the child from the reading centre and say okay you can go where you want to play but not with book. i do it with with every cwntre

i also teach the child to pack up the toys when they finish to move to another centre. Believe it works and I have five kids two and under.
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Unregistered 10:37 AM 09-13-2013
I have it set up as centers, but more as a way to organize things. They are free to mix and move stuff anywhere in the daycare with the exception being art supplies. It lets their imagination flow to have transportation toys mix in with the blocks, or reading a book to a baby in the dramatic play area etc. I have a small group of 4 and they are not directed where to go.
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Cat Herder 10:41 AM 09-13-2013
Originally Posted by WImom:
Okay those with centers can they still take toys where ever or do they stay in that center?
Mine are gated so the child asks to be let in and out. Toys/crafts stay in.

The half walls are transparent in a great room.... Literally alone in a crowd.
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nanglgrl 11:21 AM 09-13-2013
Originally Posted by WImom:
Okay those with centers can they still take toys where ever or do they stay in that center?
Mine can. It's important for them to pretend a block is pizza in the home center etc. They make the blocks into a million different things..phones, play food, doll furniture. I often find they prefer to use items for different purposes instead of the item that was designated for the purpose. I do have to wrangle it in some times though.
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Leanna 11:44 AM 09-13-2013
Our playroom is set up in centers. We have:

Dramatic play:
Usually the pretend kitchen & accessories, dolls, dress-up clothes etc. but I also occasionally switch it out for a puppet theater, doctor or vet's office, restaurant, post office, etc.

Blocks:
Wooden unit blocks
Cardboard brick blocks
Cars and road signs
People and animals
A "city" rug
This stays pretty much the same though I will add/rotate the accessories.

Math and Manipulatives:
Table toys
Puzzles
Math orientated games & materials
I also set up science and nature items on the this shelf as it is a large shelf.
I rotate these weekly.

Art:
Table with shelf of materials (collage items, paper, markers, crayons, play dough, clay, etc.)
Easel
Art area gets a new activity daily.

Writing Table:
The table itself is painted with chalkboard paint so they can actually write on it. There is also a caddy with pencils, hole punchers, a mini-stapler, tape, etc. that the older 3's and 4's use. This area stays pretty much the same though I will occasionally put a new item out like letter stickers or letter stamps.

Quiet book area:
We have a tent with pillows inside. No toys allowed inside - only reading books or relaxing.

Sensory table:
I switch it out weekly.

A protected baby area:
This area is blocked off with low book shelves and is carpeted. It allows the non- and newly mobile infants a place to play without being stepped on.

I like having the centers because it allows the kids to make choices. Centers keep everything organized too. I don't put time limits on them and they do a pretty good job. Clean-up usually goes ok with the exception of the block area (they tend to just throw them on the shelf) but we are working on that!
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melskids 12:27 PM 09-13-2013
I have centers, although the children are allowed to take the materials wherever they choose. The "centers" are basically for storage and clean up.

Sometimes a child wants to read a book to her babies, and sometimes they want to cook with the blocks.

They are allowed to dress up and play in other "centers" as well. I mean, who gets dressed up for dinner and then sits in their walk in closet to eat?! LOL

There are books, paper, and writing utensils in every center.

A lot of times they'll use play dough as food. How can you cook with hard plastic broccoli or eggs you cant crack?! LOL
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WImom 12:36 PM 09-13-2013
Thanks! I used to not let them take them out of the centers so I wondered if that was the norm. Once my two rambunctious boys left I started this summer letting them and it's been wonderful seeing them use items as other things.

I still have the rule that books stay in the reading center (unless it's a transisition time - nap or circle time where they read on mats) and table toys stay at the table as well as art supplies.
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Nebula 02:20 AM 09-17-2013
We are very small, but we do have centers though am not strict on them keeping the toys in the centers... I take ages 18 months to 4 years. Here is an overview of our centers:

Blocks:


Dramatic Play


Puzzles, Books, & Art


Music & Puppets



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Willow 07:45 AM 09-17-2013
I have a set up similar to what many described and pictured here but I don't call a designated space for a particular toy or grouping of toys, a center. Jmho but I don't think having a kitchen in the corner of a room, or blocks in a particular place can be described as "centers."

Centers to me are a way to describe a designated structure to the flow of learning. You go here you learn about colors. Next you will go here and learn about science. After that you'll switch with Billy and go learn about math. It's an extreme description I know, but it's also an extreme method/theory imo.

Not judging, but that is not what I do or offer. I don't believe it facilitates the idea that kids learn in a multitude of ways, not just the ways set before them by adults. I'd venture to say centers can actually be pretty self limiting for younger children in particular.
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daycarediva 08:00 AM 09-17-2013
Originally Posted by Willow:
I have a set up similar to what many described and pictured here but I don't call a designated space for a particular toy or grouping of toys, a center. Jmho but I don't think having a kitchen in the corner of a room, or blocks in a particular place can be described as "centers."

Centers to me are a way to describe a designated structure to the flow of learning. You go here you learn about colors. Next you will go here and learn about science. After that you'll switch with Billy and go learn about math. It's an extreme description I know, but it's also an extreme method/theory imo.

Not judging, but that is not what I do or offer. I don't believe it facilitates the idea that kids learn in a multitude of ways, not just the ways set before them by adults. I'd venture to say centers can actually be pretty self limiting for younger children in particular.
I agree, and although my space is neat and organized by type of activity, I allow free range choice/play. Yesterday a child was counting the manipulative counters I have in the block 'center', and another child was counting out pieces of pizza in the kitchen 'center' and another child was counting out hats in the dress up 'center'. So those things happen quite spontaneously in early childhood.

My son's prek has centers(he is now in K and went to prek 2 mornings/week to get him used to being away from me).The teacher would set up 6 areas of toys, and set a timer, when the timer went off, the children would rotate to the next center. No moving toys, no continuing to play. It helped (imo) to prep him for school because of the constant teacher led 'do this/do that', but that's not for me.
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Willow 08:21 AM 09-17-2013
Originally Posted by daycarediva:
I agree, and although my space is neat and organized by type of activity, I allow free range choice/play. Yesterday a child was counting the manipulative counters I have in the block 'center', and another child was counting out pieces of pizza in the kitchen 'center' and another child was counting out hats in the dress up 'center'. So those things happen quite spontaneously in early childhood.

My son's prek has centers(he is now in K and went to prek 2 mornings/week to get him used to being away from me).The teacher would set up 6 areas of toys, and set a timer, when the timer went off, the children would rotate to the next center. No moving toys, no continuing to play. It helped (imo) to prep him for school because of the constant teacher led 'do this/do that', but that's not for me.
Exactly, you just said it better than I managed lol

If I "labeled" by specific toy areas I'd have to make a list at least a page long to define what all a child *could* learn in that space as opposed to the one expected thing they are being set up to experience.

For example, my kitchen corner would have to labeled:
Home center
Occupational center
Imaginative Play center
Free Play center
Teamwork center
Shapes center
Colors center
Counting center
Manipulatives center
Gross Motor Skills center
Fine Motor Skills center
Social Skill Building center
Sensory center
Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc

I expect the kids in my care to get any/all of those things out of that one space depending on who they are as individuals. For one child the colors of all the food might click, for another the texture of the corn on the cob over the peas might, while another might work the heck out of their GMS by opening and closing all the doors, or another work their FMS by twisting the small knobs and carefully placing pot lids and using utensils.

As an adult I don't want to put them in that space labeled one specific way and limit their abilities to experience it in other ways.

If parents asked why there were no defining labels I would explain with the above.
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