Create a lively classroom environment in your ministry by adding new learning centers! Learning centers energize learners and create the feeling that there are many things to do. Centers come in handy when children arrive early, when parents pick them up late, or when some students finish another task more quickly than their peers.
Learning centers are topic-specific stations set up in a small area. At learning centers, children participate in a designated activity for a variable amount of time. Divide your large class into small groups and rotate each group from center to center, or guide your entire class from center to center.
Choose learning centers that:
- meet the needs of your children
- fit your teaching style
- accomplish your educational objectives.
- Option: If the size of your classroom limits the number of learning centers you can set up, create a rotating center in one corner of the room. Change the activity as often as needed.
1. Bible Story Center
Supplies: Printed Bible story pictures, flannel graph figures, generic figurines, children’s Picture Bibles, recorded Bible stories
- Encourage the children to retell or dramatize the Bible story using the pictures, figurines, or flannelgraph.
- If you are using DiscipleLand curriculum, make an audio recording of your voice as you read each Bible story and Dee-Cy-Paul story. Your children will be delighted to hear you as they listen to the story.
2. Coloring Center
Supplies: crayons, markers, colored chalk, colored pencils, photocopies of Bible story coloring pages, blank white paper, finger paints (optional).
- Create and print copies of Bible story coloring pages. Children will enjoy coloring a picture that coordinates with each lesson or creating their own drawings on blank paper as well.
3. Craft Center
Supplies: construction paper, glue, paint, scissors, pencils, crayons, markers, beads, stickers, yarn, macaroni, beans, buttons, feathers, sequins; end rolls of newsprint for wall murals. Additional supplies vary for each lesson.
- Create simple objects that remind children of each Bible story.
4. Game Center
Supplies: puzzles, beanbags, blocks, Legos, clay, toys, dolls, play dough, matching and sorting games, and other manipulatives.
- Mount one finished coloring page for each child onto poster board. Cut them into puzzle-shaped pieces. Place them in separate plastic bags. Present the puzzle to each child and challenge him or her to assemble it.
- Obtain simple games at dollar stores or download ideas from the Internet.
- Consider making homemade versions of “Go Fish” or “Old Maid” with Bible themes.
5. Movement Center
Supplies: balls, beanbags, jump ropes, dress-up clothes.
Give children an opportunity to exercise their arms and legs and to develop motor skills.
- Outside or Gym Activities: playground time, relays, jump rope, tag, hopscotch, “Red Rover,” “Hide and Seek,” “Tug of War.”
- Inside Activities: musical chairs, drama/skits/pantomime, dress-up, “London Bridge,” “Mulberry Bush,” “Ring around the Rosy,” “Duck, Duck, Goose,” “Hide and Seek,” “Simon Peter Says” (variation of “Simon Says”), “Follow the Leader,” “Hokey Pokey.”
6. Transportation Center
Supplies: small cars, trucks, trains, etc., rolls of newsprint, carpet with landscape scenes.
- Obtain roll ends of newsprint from your local newspaper (often free for the asking). Tape sheets to a tabletop and allow children to draw roads.
- Find a carpet designed to look like a road. Or, create something similar from a white sheet using markers to draw a road, trees, grass, cities, and so on. Lay the carpet or sheet on the floor and allow the children to play with cars and trucks on it.
7. Puppet Center
Supplies: Buy custom-made puppets, make sock puppets, print up a graphic of characters on cardstock, or use small, disposable plastic glove puppets.
- Invite the children to re-tell the story using puppets.
- Have leaders available to tell the story during the program.
8. Bible-Times Costumes Center
Supplies: pillowcases, sweatbands, cloth rectangles, pieces of cording, paper grocery bags.
- Use pillowcases and grocery bags to make Bible-times costumes. Cut neck and arm holes big enough to easily fit over students’ heads. You may also want to cut down the front. You can hem the cut edges of the pillowcases or use pinking shears. Uncut pillowcases or rectangles of cloth can be used as headpieces—held in place with sweatbands. Pieces of cording serve well as belts.
9. Music Center
Supplies: children’s worship music, international music, Bible story songs, speakers and audio player, simple musical instruments, pictures of singing and worship.
- Encourage children to sing along with the songs and to play the instruments as they learn and worship.
10. Map Center
Supplies: globes of all sorts, large maps of the world, country, or your local state and city.
- Although young children are not yet able to comprehend distances, they love to see where they live and where things are happening—such as where the Bible stories took place. Pin or tape maps to walls or tabletops so children can easily see them.
11. Prayer Center
Supplies: pictures or symbols of Jesus, children praying, praying hands, people from various cultures.
- Communicate to students that this center is for children to pray quietly.
- Create symbols that represent “personal needs,” “church needs,” “community needs,” and “world needs.” Write each prayer request below the appropriate symbol. (For non-readers, represent the need with a picture.) Invite children to pray about a personal, church, community, and world need during their prayer time.
12. Around the World Center
Supplies: pictures of people from various cultures, pictures or stuffed wild animals from different continents, clothing items from various cultures.
- Photographs from National Geographic or other magazines provide vivid images to curious kindergartners. Collect scarves, hats, and other clothing items from different cultures. Encourage students to dress up like the people they see in the pictures.
- Children are attracted to different cultures through animals. Help them associate animals with countries or regions.
Your children will benefit from stations, variety, and the wonderful activities that complement your Bible story for the day. Repeating the main idea through various visual, kinesthetic, and audio methods will help any learner grow in Bible knowledge, Christlike character, and faithful conduct.