Centers for seasons learning and skill practice are perfect for young learners and can add so much depth and layers to what you’re teaching in your classroom. Skills like pencil grip, using scissors, print awareness, shape and color recognition can all be a part of centers focused on each season. The bonus for your students is that they’re soaking up what’s new and different as each season comes along.
One of the first years of teaching preschool and PreK, one of my students said, “I’m gonna miss winter so much!” The realization hit me then that maybe these young learners don’t know that winter will come again next year! So, every year since, as seasons come and go, that’s a part of the teaching of the seasons – they’ll be here again next year.
Fall Themed Centers for Your Classroom
Let’s start with what’s out there for fall themed centers. Apples and leaves are just kind of a must and a given for young learners. For sure your students most likely know what an apple is or what a leaf is – but have they seen bowls full of apples of different colors all at one time? Have they picked up leaves of different colors inside their classroom? Those are both pretty fun!
Send a note home to parents to bring in 3-4 apples by a specific day – count the apples as they come in before that day, and keep a class tally up on your bulletin board or white board – there’s some math and science learning there. Use the apples for a sorting center, labeling bowls or baskets for red, green, yellow, and multi-colored apples.
Circle time is the perfect opportunity to teach patterning with apples. It’s fun to get down on the floor with your students and go over a simple pattern – red, yellow, red, yellow, red, yellow. Open up a patterning center after teaching patterning and see what pattern your students can come up with on their own or working together. Remember you may have to pick up a few apples to even out or have enough of each color apple.
Every fall for years, my husband and I collect leaves over a weekend to use in centers in my classroom. We’re very lucky to have many trees in our yard to collect about 4-5 different kinds and colors of leaves that have fallen off of their trees, and we take walks to pick up more. There’s an elementary school just up the street, and there’s pretty yellow ginkgo leaves on trees in the front. They are beautiful and perfect to use in fall themed centers.
Using these leaves and construction paper for each leaf color, and kids can sort the leaves by placing each on the same color of construction paper. Remember to put out construction paper colors like pink, purple, black, white and blue – the bonus here is realizing there are no pink, purple, black, white or blue leaves!
Winter Themed Centers for Your Classroom
Winter centers are my favorite to gather up supplies and set up for my students. There’s two centers I set up every year – one is using a sensory table and the other is an open-at center. You know, from reading my other posts, how much I love, adore and use-all-the-time any open art center so let’s start with this one!
For winter, it’s a build-your-own snowman center! Luckily, I have easy access to a die cut machine to cut out circles for the snowmen. I also cut out black and white hats, boots, and scarves clip art so kids can color those any way they want with colored pencils. I cut out carrot noses and have wiggle eyes out, too. So the snowmen don’t get too large, there’s just half sheets of construction paper for kids to build their snowmen on. Place letters for the word SNOW out also – here’s great print awareness!
I rarely put out markers for young learners, as they don’t build muscle strength for writing. There’s plenty of kid-size colored pencils available. Add in some fancy blade scissors, glue sticks, a few mini-size glue bottles, buttons, sequence and even snowflake stickers, and this center is ready to go!
Inside the sensory table, I place ice cubes – lucky me again, there’s a full-size kitchen with a huge ice machine just down the hallway! Add in toy cars, people from any doll house, construction vehicle toys and even foam blocks for kids to use on the ice cubes. A few years ago, I found a set of foam winter animals with icebergs. If you have any plastic animals, they can join in the ice cold fun! If you don’t have a sensory table, use a large bowl or tub instead!
Spring Themed Center for Your Classroom
Spring centers are usually bright and cheerful! Plastic Easter eggs, flower foamies or paper spring baby animal clipart can be used for patterning, sorting by color, grouping – you get the idea!
Bringing in real flowers in a vase and setting out large, white construction paper with paint and brushes is great fun so kids can paint colorful spring flowers using the flowers in the vase for inspiration! This is a really popular center every year in my classroom. (I use this same center in the fall with sunflowers and link in Van Gough as school is just starting, too!)
Summer Themed Centers for Your Classroom
During summer camps, I bring in my collection of real shells from travels and some store bought shells for a beachy, summery center. This is a good center to talk about smooth/rough, shiny/dull, small, medium, large shells. Add in some books from the library with lots of photos of real shells, and you have a compelling center for your young learners!
Let Me Know!
I’d love to hear in the comment section what kind of seasonal centers you use in your classroom! I’m always looking for new, fun, great ideas!
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