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Why and How To Use Centers In Your Classroom and At Home – Part 6 Centers for Toddlers!

Why use centers for Toddlers? It’s an easy way to present and offer early learning concepts for parents to young children at home, for workers in a daycare setting or in for teachers in an early toddler preschool. These simple centers are to introduce colors, shapes, letters and more. Young learners won’t come away after even a few sessions of these centers knowing their colors, shapes or letters, but the ideas will stick around with the toddler in your life, and you’ll have fun teaching these concepts!

Color and Shape Center Concepts for Young Children

As kids are napping or when they go to bed at night, pull together like items – objects of the same color or shape from toys, clothes, kitchen bowls, towels or just about anything that grabs your attention. Add in pictures of the same color or shape from books for your young learner to look at next to the objects. Talk about the color or shape with them so they’re hearing the language connected to the items.

Circle shapes for toddlers. From the book My Learning Library from Scholastic Books.

Letter and Number Center Concepts for Young Children

When my daughter was little, I was lucky to have a set of block letters to use for letter centers for her. I added in letters from a couple different books that had different fonts, too. There are wood blocks for purchase that have letters and numbers on them. Your local dollar store will have these for a totally reasonable price, and these little blocks are great for many different activities. Another great resource for letter and number learning is to use labels from food boxes from your kitchen pantry. Cut out the letters and numbers from boxes or canned food labels before you recycle.

Start with just one letter or number at a time – not all the letters and numbers! Letters like O, T, S, and A and numbers like 1 and 3 are great to start with because they look unlike each other. Go ahead and talk about what each letter says, and what things start with each letter. Hold up 1 or 3 fingers to show how many. It’s all just great vocabulary, and you’ll be teaching your young learner language at the same time.

Animal Centers for Young Children

How about using stuffed animals and board books or picture books or even calendars with the same animals in them for a center. Use vocabulary like paws, antlers, wings, feathers, snout, beak as examples of words different than what we use for human features. So much word learning here!

Scavenger Hunt Around the House

After introducing each center, go on a hunt around your house to find like items. If you offered a center on the color red, look through clothes to find more red items. If you offered an animal center, look around the house for animals in art work or animals in the back yard or around the neighborhood. How about finding YouTube videos of animals so your child can see them moving and making sounds!

Blue color for toddlers. Book is Bear Sees Colors by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman

Teach To Early Learning Concepts

Remember, toddlers aren’t going to “know” their colors, shapes or letters just for these centers being offered a few times or just from these centers alone. Rather, you’re teaching concepts that will be tucked away in their brains when the concepts are introduced again! Using centers will be different and fun for everyone! If you’re a parent teaching these centers at home, you are your child’s first teacher, and these centers will be easy and not time consuming to set up!

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