While every day in a child’s life is one of learning, and everything around them is part of that, providers can offer safe and constructive learning opportunities with “learning stations.”
Learning stations are designated areas of the classroom where children play freely, with little to no direction about how to use materials, while having playful and engaging interactions with the adults around them.
The way learning stations are organized and the materials offered play an important role in inspiring imagination, learning, and play. There isn’t just one way to set up and organize learning stations, but I can offer some guidance to help you get started.
Let’s start by understanding the ages and abilities of the children in your care. Understanding the age group of the children you serve will help you choose materials that are:
- developmentally appropriate
Once the needs and goals for the age group are clear, it’s time to choose materials. Choosing materials that are relevant to children will keep them interested and entertained. Pick materials that relate to:
- seasons and nature
- theme or subject of study
- current teaching concepts
- community or local events
After you’ve decided on the materials, separate them into learning station areas. Although it is true that learning occurs in many ways and at all times, it is necessary to separate some of the learning stations for different reasons, such as classroom space and supporting the children’s interest and freedom to choose between active or quiet play.
Here are some suggestions for distinct learning stations:
|Art||quiet play and learning, promotes creativity, fine motor development|
|Blocks||active play, offers the opportunity to play collaboratively, thinking skills, problem-solving|
|Books||quiet learning, patterns and colors on pictures, active language and literacy exposure|
|Discovery||explorative play, testing, discover toys’ functions and features|
|Pretend Play||often collaborative play, active learning, role-play, promotes creativity|
|Music and Movement||active play, dancing, rhythms, cultures, self or collaborative play|
|Table Toys||hands-on play, manipulatives exploration, counting, sorting, fine motor development|
Materials in the learning stations should be rotated from time to time to maintain children’s curiosity in the areas. When children are interested, the desire to learn is present, and so are the ideas that make play their main learning tool.