Theme Based Center Activities- Learning Resources®
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Theme Based Center Activities

Activity Idea 1: Healthy Snack Shop

Make important lessons about good nutrition appealing with snack-themed activities. As part of Snack Shop role play, let students use the cash register to reinforce coin and bill identification. Build confidence in telephone skills as students use the Teaching Telephone® to take snack orders. Then, have students draw and write advertisements for their healthiest pretend snacks. You can introduce the 6 food groups in centers by playing Food Group Bingo or a sorting game using magnetic foods. Afterwards, return to the Snack Shop and let students discuss which snacks belong to which food groups. Finally, bring the whole class together to share nutrition knowledge using the pocket chart.


Activity Idea 2: Treat Time

Prompt children to look through the play snacks and help themselves to a paper plate of their favorites.  Have children discuss why those snacks are their favorites.  Then encourage them to discuss what healthy means and decide which of the snacks are healthy.  Next, ask children to return the cookies to the jar, counting each one as they place it inside the jar.  Let them talk about how many cookies they should eat in one serving.


Activity Idea 3: Fins, Feathers & Fur

Children and pets go hand-in-hand!  Use pet-themed activities to motivate interest in early math and literacy.  Promote compassion and responsibility through role play with the Animal Hospital and Jumbo Pets.  Lead a small group in making a graph of favorite pets using the Reversible Graph It! Mat and counters.  Divide children into teams to create patterns with counters inside sorting circles.  Encourage creativity and build vocabulary by having students invent new creatures with Animal Crack-Ups™ and write stories about them in their journals.


Activity Idea 4: Critters in the Sand

Bury several Backyard Bugs™ in a large tub of damp sand and challenge children to dig up as many as they can.  Provide sand shovels and sifters to reinforce gross motor skills in this kinesthetic activity.  Then, have children select the number mold that corresponds with the quantity of insects they found and use it to press the number into the sand.  Bring the lesson to a close by guiding the class in a mini oral storytelling activity.  Be sure to hang the giant insects from the ceiling to spark imaginations as children tell their impromptu stories.


Activity Idea 5: The Buzz about Math

Ease the transition from nonstandard to standard measurement with a little help from your insect friends.  Have children group counters in different quantities.  Then, let them count how many are in each group and press the answers into Play Foam™ using number molds.  Children can practice estimation by guessing how many counters will fit inside each mold.  To introduce measurement and equivalency, allow children to experiment with counters or Weighted Numbers and the bucket balance.  Finally, guide children in classifying the different bugs using sorting circles.


Activity Idea 6: Let's Go to the Zoo

Reinforce early reading, math and science concepts through wild animal-themed activities.  Ask children who have been to the zoo to share their experiences and describe how the animals behaved.  Let children talk about their favorite animals and what they already know about certain animals.  Then, encourage students to look through the animal cards and discuss the similarities and differences among the various animals.  Next, prompt children to count and sort the animal counters by type of animal.  See if children can find a card that matches one of the toy jungle animals.  Then, have students choose a favorite card and pretend to read the card’s text to a partner based on the information the photo reveals about the animal.  Just by looking carefully at the photographs, children can tell one another where the animal lives, what it eats and other interesting facts.


Activity Idea 7: Become an Inventor!

In pairs, have children use gears to build two different simple inventions.  Then, switch pairs and let children show an invention to their new partner and describe how it works.  Next, pairs can work together to take apart one of the inventions.  Finally, have the class sort the gears and place similar pieces in columns on the floor mat to make a giant bar graph.


Activity Idea 8: Birthday Party

Children love planning and attending birthday parties.  Teaching with party-themed activities builds positive feelings about learning.  Encourage print awareness by having children make homemade birthday cards using stamps.  Then children can reinforce their early spelling skills by making name necklaces as pretend gifts or party favors.  Next, have children explore letters and creativity by decorating the birthday cake.  Teach colors, early fractions and social skills using Rainbow Color Cones™ and Piece-A-Pizza Fractions™, which also serve as great pretend treats!


Activity Idea 9: Alphabet Song & Dance

Prompt children to toss a letter cube, say the name of the letter rolled and make its sound.  Children can self-check by stepping on the talking alphabet mat.  Next, pairs of students can use the hand pointers to point to objects in the room as they sing aloud the objects’ names.  After they sing each object’s name, they must sing the word same or different to indicate whether or not the beginning sound of the object’s name matches the sound of the letter they rolled with the cubes.  Later, bring the group back together so everyone can sing along with the electronic mat to “The Alphabet Song.”

Activity Idea 10: Wild Water Creatures



Set the scene by hanging the inflatable ocean animals from the ceiling.  Tap into prior knowledge by having children share what they already know about turtles.  Then encourage children to discuss additional things they would like to learn about turtles.  Guide them in comparing and contrasting the toy turtles with any real turtles they may have seen.  Then, children can match the turtles’ shells to the shapes on their backs.  Prompt children to determine whether the toy turtles, crabs and fish have similar body shapes to any of the animals on the ocean animal cards.  Finally, let the class play with the toy animals in the water.


Activity Idea 11: Under the Sea


Teach life science concepts alongside early math and literacy.  Use the magnetic letters and board to spell new words related to ocean animals.  Then, keep children active as they identify shapes, colors and animals and explore deductive reasoning with Jump ‘N’ Jam Jungle™.  Children can then sort the classifying cards and compare Smart Splash® animals to photos of real animals.  Encourage children to practice matching skills by comparing sand mold shapes to shapes on Jump ‘N’ Jam Jungle.  For an extension activity, hang ocean inflatables in a writing center and have children write and illustrate ocean animal stories in their journals.


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