In "Learning Centers, Part 1," I talked about the various reasons learning centers are important for the classroom. In "Learning Centers, Part 2," I shared ideas for managing your centers. Now, here's the good stuff.
(A word on playing games: you can let students continue playing until everyone wins.)
Pots of Gold
Get some different colored containers and write the color name underneath each one. Make paper cards with the color names. Students line up the containers in a rainbow shape and drop a gold coin inside each one. In turn, each player draws a card, tries to identify the right color, and lifts up the container to self-check. If they are right, they get to keep the coin.
Make a small paper balloon for each student in the class. Glue on their pictures and laminate. Attach the balloons to poster board. Then make a set of cards with students' names. Players pick a card, read the name, and try to hit the correct balloon with a suction dart.
Get or make a realistic treasure chest. Put tiny boxes in the chest. Each box should have a letter written on the top and a picture corresponding to the letter on the bottom. Inside each box, put a corresponding letter manipulative. Students reach inside the chest and pick a box randomly. They say the letter name or sound and check their answer on the bottom. If they are correct, they get to open the box and keep the treasure (for the duration of the game only!).
Gone Fishin', Ring Toss, and Whac-A-Mole
Basketball, Football, Baseball, Hockey, Catch, and Skee-Ball
Hopscotch, Miniature Golf, Bowling, and Plinko
Copy some pictures of SpongeBob SquarePants and write numbers on them. Write corresponding number words on kitchen sponges. Hang up the pictures, put a bucket in front of each (no water!), and have children try to toss their sponges into the correct buckets.
One Duck, Two Ducks, Red Duck, Blue Duck
Students put colored ducks with numbers on them in water, draw cards with color and number words, and try to find the right ducks in the "pond." If they are correct, they keep the ducks. If incorrect, they put them back and try again.
Draw four lanes on a long piece of paper. Divide each lane into 12 spaces. Each player picks a toy car and places it in a lane. In turn, the players roll a die and move their cars that number of spaces. Whoever gets to the finish line first is the winner.
That's Right, That's Wrong
Make some question cards with a a right answer and a wrong answer. The object of the game is to give the wrong answer. (In the process, students learn the right answer and have fun doing it.) If a player gives the right answer, they lose a point. If they give the wrong answer, they score a point. After going through the stack, the players switch. Whoever has the most points at the end wins.
Alien Landing and Flight Landing
For "alien landing", players draw a card with a planet or fact on it, then try to land a frisbee UFO (with an inverted clear plastic cup on the top) on the corresponding planet. For "flight landing," players draw a card with a continent, country, or state on it, then try to land a paper or plastic airplane on a map.
Unlock the Box
Provide a few boxes that lock. Mix the keys in with a bunch of other keys. Students pick keys from the pile and try to find the ones that will open the boxes.
Float or Sink?
Students fill a fish bowl with water and place a small container at the bottom. Then they drop small objects into the bowl, trying to get them to land in the container. The students will see which objects float and which ones sink.
How High? How Long? How Fast?
In "How high?" students predict where water will rise in bottles of different shapes and sizes. In "How long?" they attach things of different sizes and weights to parachutes and see how long it takes them to land. In "How fast?" students learn how fast and slow things are by observing toy cars, balloon-powered vehicles, and wind-up toys.
Pin the Tail, Bean Bag Toss, and Tracking Expedition
In "Pin the Tail," players try to match tails to the right animals. In the Bean Bag Toss, players toss bean bag "foods" in the mouths of the animals that eat them. In "Tracking Expedition," students trace the paths of different animals by following their tracks on a map.
Make a set of cards. Write a specific item on each one. Students draw cards and, using a prize and candy grabber machine, move a joystick up, down, left, and right to make a crane reach down and try to grab the items.
The checkers open up so you can put sweets or prizes inside. Students have to capture the checkers to win the prizes.
Tape the lyrics to short songs onto old CDs, or record single songs onto blank CDs. Put them in paper envelopes, and label each envelope with a letter/number combination (e.g., F-7). Put them in alphabetical order and have students select a song from the jukebox to sing.
Two players stand â or sit â at either end of a water table, with one boat in the middle. Each player tries to get the boat to the opposite side by shooting at it with a squirt gun (one that is NOT shaped like a gun!).
Building Pictionary and Hurry & Build
Make cards with simple structures, designs, vehicles, nature elements, etc. There are two games you can play using these cards:
Aw, kids. They've got it made. To be able to do their work by playing like this? I guess my only consolation is that I had almost as much fun coming up with the games and activities as they have playing them.
You have good ideas. You know you do. I know you do. Tell me.
Have a fun weekend!