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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Honeycomb Printable Preschool on Teachers Pay Teachers
Click on the image to visit Honeycomb Printable Preschool on Teachers Pay Teachers

Why and How To Use Center In Your Classroom Part 5 – Season Center Ideas!

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

Sorting leaf colors for our Fall Center Activity!

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

Ice and foam animals in our sensory table for Winter Center Activity!

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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Please add your email on the homepage to be notified when Why and How To Use Centers In Your Classroom – Part 6 is posted. In the final post in this series, you’ll discover how and what to use in centers for toddlers!

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felt board sets/flannel board sets · Uncategorized

Fun with Kids Felt Board Sets!

When I was a little girl, my kindergarten teacher had felt board sets out all the time. Mrs. McGregor was a really good teacher (she was also my second grade teacher – lucky me!) and she always explained how to use the felt pieces. She’d show us all as a class how to sort and match colors and shapes, sort like objects together (which is really science!) how to pattern, and just to count all the felt pieces. I made sure to play with those every day! I adored felt board pieces and all the things you could do with them! 

When I first started teaching students in my classroom and music to 40 3-4-year-olds twice a day, one of the first things I wanted for my classroom and music was felt board sets. I knew the kids coming into my class would love them. And I would secretly love them just remembering being in Kindergarten myself! 

Kids Felt Board Sets - Learn and Teach Preschool Colors. Preschool Color Activities. Color Sorting and Matching.

As I started looking around for felt sets, however, they were super expensive and weren’t very creative. I could find sets for themes or holidays, which could only be put out during certain times of the year – not very cost effective. And I still couldn’t find felt board sets for kids to learn in a creative, independent or teamwork way or to use with songs at music time.  

As it happened, around the same time, I literally stumbled across how to make felt board pieces! So, first for music, I started making flannel board pieces and sets to go along with the songs I was teaching, and then as learning tools in my classroom. 

Now, through Honeycomb Preschool’s Etsy shop, we’ve put up the same kind of kids felt board sets I’ve used in my classroom and at music time! There’s lots of learning here for classrooms and at home for your toddlers and preschool-aged kids! Remember, too, these are great to take in the car, appointments, during quiet time, or to Grandma and Grandpa’s house! 

Preschool Colors Felt Set – 

Kids Felt Board Set to Learn Colors. Learn 10 Preschool Colors. Color sorting activities. Use at Music and circle time with Honeycomb Preschool Color Songs Pack on Etsy.

Made with photos of objects for kids to see real-world connections to colors, this set is perfect to use at music time or circle time! This flannel board set is a companion set to the Color Songs Pack in our Etsy Shop. These are great to use to sort colors (math) and to scientifically categorize items – things we eat/don’t eat, animals/not animals, nature made/manmade . . .

Spring Flowers Felt Set – 

Spring Flower Felt Board for Kids. Preschool shape activities. Preschool number activities. PreK number sense activities. Color flowers.

The bright colorful flowers will draw kids into this felt set where they will match numbers or shapes on pots and flowers, or sort colors, or sort flower shapes! There’s also plenty of gardening containers and pots to create their own garden, remembering to count all those flowers as they set up their garden scene! 

After explaining how to use the felt pieces – maybe at circle time – watch your students learn and grow using these felt board sets created for kids – and maybe the kid in you, too! 

Look for these in our Honeycomb Preschool Etsy Shop:

Preschool Color Songs Pack Honeycomb Preschool on Etsy. Teach preschool colors with songs and activities.
Color Songs Pack
Preschool Colors Felt Board Set. Teach and Learn Colors. Color sorting and matching activities. Color Songs.
Colors Felt Board Set
Spring Flower Felt Board Set. Preschool Shapes activities. Preschool number activities. Preschool colors activities.
Spring Flowers Felt Board Set


Learning From Nursery Rhymes

Kids love nursery rhymes because they’re full of silly words and rhymes, they have animals acting like people, funny names for the characters, and they’re catchy to say. But did you know nursery rhymes are filled with teaching and learning opportunities?

Language Development

When we talk to young children, we use voice inflection, pitch, volume, and the rhythm of language to communicate emotions and ideas. Kids begin to understand the concept that letters – consonants and vowels – have sounds, and that by putting those sounds together we make words. Using the rhythm of language and speech patterns in nursery rhymes, kids are practicing enunciation and pronunciation.

Calling My Language Bank

Nursery Rhymes are filled with vocabulary not often heard in every day communication. Having a large vocabulary helps with reading comprehension because kids are developing a language bank to call upon when they’re learning to read. Words will make sense when they’re reading, and kids can picture a mental image of what they’re reading.

Rhymers Are Readers

Rhyming teaches kids how language works, and in turn how reading works. Kids who can rhyme better understand the connection between print and sound, which is crucial to proficient reading. Many nursery rhymes have fingerplays and movements with the same directional movement as the order of written word – left to right and top to bottom. Knowing these directional movements will naturally help when learning to read – no second guessing where to start. 

Get Moving

By acting out the nursery rhymes in dramatic play, kids are using their whole bodies to move in big ways or different ways they would normally move in. Kids also use their imagination and are being creative when acting out nursery rhymes. By reciting tricky speech patterns, young children use their mouth and tongue muscles in coordination, which again goes back to practicing enunciation and pronunciation. 

Nursery Rhymes to Math Concepts

Nursery Rhymes are filled with math-related words – many, few, plenty, large, medium, small and more. These math vocabulary words provide a rich foundation of knowledge and help preschoolers grasp abstract math concepts even at such an early age. Preschoolers love to count – it makes them feel like they’re big kids! Many nursery rhymes have counting in them. What better way to teach counting than a fun song or poem! 

Cognitive Development

Nursery Rhymes often follow a short story with a beginning, middle and end – a story sequence. Kids will naturally learn this concept of a story sequence which will help them to follow along when someone is reading to them and when they’re learning to read themselves. Learning nursery rhymes requires memorization and recall, and provides lots of opportunities for developing strong mental imagery. 

Tongue Twisters and Noisy Sounds

Kids learn alliteration – for preschoolers this means tongue twisters like Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. Kids learn onomatopoeia – words for sounds – like honk, splash, zap, thump. Kids love words like this! 

Social/Emotional Development

The characters in nursery rhymes present many different emotions and find themselves in many different situations. Preschoolers will begin to identify their own real emotions from knowing nursery rhymes, which in turn encourages empathy, sympathy, and an understanding of the emotions of the people around them. There are some pretty silly nursery rhymes out there, and kids will explore humor and discover their own, unique sense of humor!