Many resources such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children have shown that children learn through play and hands on experiences. In a preschool setting this can be accomplished in the classrooms by setting up learning stations. These stations are set up with intentional learning opportunities for the students. Children will have the opportunity to learn and develop their social skills by communicating, developing language skills, sharing toys and ideas with each other.
This station has several other names such as the kitchen, housekeeping and family center. This area the children are able to play out what happens in a household such as cooking meals, cleaning up and grocery shopping. It is equipped a kitchen with sink and stove, table and chairs, a phone, dolls, plastic dishes and food, and dress up clothes. In this center children interact with each other and play out different roles. They get to express their individuality and creativity. They also learn to play cooperatively, share and take turns.
At different times during the year other themes will be introduced such as a post office, restaurant, and doctor’s office. This will give them the opportunity to play out what they know about their community.
In the library children will be able to select a book, sit, and read quietly or just look at the pictures. They will learn the importance of print as the means of communication. The library also helps children gain knowledge on a variety of subjects. Exposure to books and storytelling helps children understand that their feelings, fears, questions, and problems offer solutions to them. Different books will be rotated on a monthly basis and according to what lessons we are learning in the classroom. Topics that the children show an interest in will also be incorporated into the library. Acquiring a love for books is one of the most powerful incentives for children to become readers.
The building area is a place for children to play together and share experiences. It provides an opportunity to cooperate with others as they trade materials, props or plan joint building projects. A lot of math concepts come into play in this area. They will use emergent preschool skills such as sorting objects by size, and shape. They learn to make use of physical principles such as weight, stability, balance and leverage.
An effective writing center invites children to explore the world of print. Different writing utensils and types of paper will be offered in this center. It will be equipped with greeting cards, envelopes, stencils, letter stamps and ink pads.
In the discovery/sensory area children will be able to explore and experience different textures, and how different things react to changes such as adding water. Examples of materials that will be used are sand, rice, beads, and beans. Different props they will use are sifters, funnels, measuring spoons, scoops just to name a few. Opportunities for science discovery will also be incorporated into this area. Magnets, weighing scales, binoculars, and magnifying glasses and other materials used for exploration will be available along with different things from nature such as leaves, shells, and rocks.
In the art area children will draw, paint, and make collages while experimenting with color, line, shape and size. They will be using their fine motor skills, while using, paint brushes, crayons, and scissors. This is a great area for the children to be able to express how they think, feel, and view the world.
In this area children will have the opportunity to develop math concept skills such as counting, sorting, shape recognition, and making patterns. Games and materials that involve these skills will be available such as bingo, dominos, bead lacing, and card games.