Designated Activity Areas and Capacity Limits
The number and size of learning centers depends on curriculum priorities as well as classroom and group size. We want to maximize childrens opportunities to make choices and work/play independently but also minimize conflicts over materials and space (Gestwicki, 2011; Swim, 2012). Each learning center should be equipped and sized to accommodate a particular number of children, such as four in the art center, three in the manipulative area, two in the listening center, and so on. The number of children an area accommodates should also take into consideration the nature of the activity. For example, dramatic play and block building occur best with a small group of children, while a light table or sand/water table will be limited by the size and capacity of the equipment.
The total number of children accommodated by learning centers should at least equal the number of children in the group. Marking the center with a symbol/sign indicating the number of children per center helps children know if they may enter or need to make a different choice until space is available. You can also provide physical cues or signs (Figure 6.2), such as a small table with two sets of headphones and two chairs for a listening center, or a four-sided easel with one piece of paper and set of paints/brushes on each side.