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Old 05-21-2003, 04:56 PM
bijansmom bijansmom is offline
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 116
Creative ideas for home-made (cheap) learning centers (preK)

I work at a non profit school so money is nonexistant. I am so tired (as are the kids) of the learning centers we have (blocks, puzzles, sand, water, kitchen, books, arts 'n crafts) -- help me jazz these up for little or no money for next year. I am willing to make things (simple) and such.


Old 05-21-2003, 05:36 PM
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Amanda Amanda is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 3,722
Former K/1 Teacher
How about some academic centers?

Here is one simple ABC activity to start with:

Get some small tiles... I think the ones I use are 2x2. I wrote the alphabet letters on them with permanent marker. Then, I went over the marker with a line of glue. (This just adds texture, and also keeps the marker from scratching off.) You will also need a long strip of paper with the alphabet written on it. I have used adding machine tape, but I have also glued strips of paper together and laminated it. The students lay out the alphabet strip and match the letters by laying the tile over the strip.

I hope this makes sense. It is an activity PreK could do. I just thought of a twist... make another strip with lowercase letters so the kids have to match uppercase to lowercase.
Old 05-21-2003, 05:47 PM
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mommaruthie mommaruthie is offline
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 2,900
Broward County Florida
science kits

shoe box or ziplock science
sink and float
cold or hot
magnifying glasses with rock or shells
Corn cob with dinosaurs in it and a strainer or minishovel and kids dig for dinosaurs like an archeologist
Traditional Elementary, Montessori 6-9 and 9-12 Teacher. Mother of 2, and one awesome husband.
Old 05-21-2003, 05:48 PM
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Amanda Amanda is offline
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Posts: 3,722
Former K/1 Teacher
oooohh.. What about a name center? Kids love learning about their names and their friends' names. Make a poster or chart with all the kids' first names on it... put a picture next to it if possible... Then put activities in the center that have to do with their names... hmmm... thinking off the top of my head here...

--Name puzzles - Write a name on tagboard, or construction paper (maybe a 9x12 cut in half the long way) - I have done this before by writing the name in black and outlining it with 2 or 3 other colors (concentric lines following the shape of the name) Cut into a few pieces and place into a bag. For beginning kindergartners, they didn't have a problem with 4 names per bag, if I used different color schemes for the outlines.

--Name building - Provide letters (magnetic letters, letters written on tiles, letters written on cards, etc.) for them to build names

--playdough to make names

--name to picture matching. Put the name on one side, the picture on the other, cut apart to make a puzzle piece that can be matched

--Name cards (with or without a picture) - Make a mat with a T chart labeled boys and girls.. The kids have to sort names into boys and girls. (I almost said Venn Diagram, but that wouldn't work!! I would hate to see a kid get categorized in the overlapping part!!)

...just a start!
Old 05-22-2003, 08:28 PM
ice ice is offline
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 15
Bean bags to toss into plastic tubs (like large margarine or ice cream containers). Maybe put vowels on some, consonants on others and toss in the correct tub.

Felt boards. There are several sites that have print outs to go with stories.

Lacing on plastic sheets of plastic canvas using large plastic needles and yarn.

For an insect section: Insect collection containers made out of baby food jars. nets made from clothes hangers, mesh and cotton fabric. Magnifying glasses. We use plastic bugs to hunt and examine in the winter.

We play safari rescue using small stuffed animals, like beanie babies, and our insect net to capture/rescue them in. We play it like a scavenger hunt. Each picks a different picture, when their turn, to hunt for in the classroom.

Large dominoes made out of cardboard with animal pictures to match up. Use same pictures as in the safari.

Small stuffed animals attached with velcro or sewn to cheap stretchy winter gloves for puppets to act out stories.

Story bags--make several. Put 5-10 small items in a cloth bag with drawstring. Have them pick a bag. They reach in a pick out an item and tell a story about it to others in group. Pick out another item to continue the story. For example: cookie cutter of cow, shoestring, toy rocket ship, and toy cup might have story that went: I was making cookies for my grandma using my new cow shaped cookie cutter. I started to the frig to get the eggs and noticed my shoestring was untied. While tying my shoe there was noise outside. It was a rocket ship full of cows... You get the idea. These are a favorite here.

File folder games.

Sandpaper letters cut out and glued to sheets of cardboard.

Last edited by ice; 05-22-2003 at 08:55 PM.
Old 05-23-2003, 04:23 PM
Shawnmarie Shawnmarie is offline
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 84
Early Childhood Teacher
I made storybook puzzles. I took a bunch of books from my libary, xeroxed the covers, laminated them with contact paper and cut them into puzzles. Storage is in a ziplog bag or a file folder.
Old 05-23-2003, 04:25 PM
Shawnmarie Shawnmarie is offline
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 84
Early Childhood Teacher
I hit send before I typed in another idea, lol. How about a cutting center? I took all the scraps of paper we had and put them in a large box. I then took another box and sealed it shut. I created an animal out of the box, for instance a bear, and decorated it to look like one. Cut a hole for the mouth, then let the kids cut the scrap paper and 'feed' the bear. They love this!
Old 05-25-2003, 07:49 PM
bijansmom bijansmom is offline
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 116
Thanks everyone for all the suggestions!

I bought a Sizzix machine this weekend to use for some crafts for school (as well as scrapbooking LOL) -- I am going to die cut the alphabet on nice cardstock, laminate (with clear contact? Can I do that?) and take it from there. We do not have an Ellison machine so I bought the next best thing (Sizzix) -- hope it works!
Old 05-26-2003, 04:51 AM
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diggerdeb diggerdeb is offline
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 382
We need a scrapping thread
How do you use your interest in scrapping and teaching.
I have some ideas that I use.
Old 05-26-2003, 06:05 AM
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Margo Margo is offline
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 1,113
[QUOTE]Originally posted by bijansmom
[...... laminate (with clear contact? Can I do that?)

Yes, laminating with clear contact works fine. It is time consuming but if you don't have access to a laminator, it is the next best thing. You always want to protect anything that you make so it will last longer.

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