Learning centers for our 2 year olds are available during the first hour of our morning. As soon as the children arrive and say their good-byes to parents or caregivers, they are free to move where they want around the classroom. We create inviting, hands-on activities that allow for much exploration. As with our 3 year olds centers time, our 2 year olds can spend as much or as little time desired at whatever centers they wish to go. Because this is usually their first school experience, we want them to feel welcome, safe, and happy.
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Our learning centers for our 2 year old class:
We have a small table in our book area where children can draw, write, use stamps, stickers, stencils, and other materials. We don’t have it all out at once, but choose different materials each week.
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Our reading area has a couple of bookshelves and a child-size couch. Children will often stop what they are doing and sit on the couch to look at a book before going back to what they were doing.
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Our light table is tucked into a cubby in the corner of our room. It’s the perfect size for one or two children. We love to explore light in a variety of ways, with all kinds of materials.
Playdough is one of our most popular ways of working our fine motor skills. Each week we change the playdough and the materials.
Puzzles and Manipulatives
We use this table to develop cognitive skills such as counting, sorting, and matching.
Our dramatic play area is adjacent to our block area, the more active part of the classroom. We change our dramatic play themes every week or two.
Blocks and Cars
The block area is popular with our 2 year olds. They start the year more interested in trains and cars, and as the year progresses they become more involved in block play. Like the dramatic play area, we change some of our toys every week or two so that the children can explore a variety of materials.
Because our classroom is on the small side, our science shelf is actually on top of our block area shelf, in front of our window.
We do a lot of process art with both our 2 and 3 year olds so that they can enjoy exploring different tools, paint recipes, and textures.
Our easel stands next to our art table and is very inviting to our 2 year olds. In fact, they often don’t even care if there is paper on the easel, or if a friend or two joins them. They simply love to brush the paint on the vertical surface.
Our sensory table is well-loved by our 2 year olds. They love to scoop and pour and feel the different textures. We usually change what is in our sensory table each week. It is placed near our classroom door, and often is comforting to those who might be having difficulties saying goodbye to a parent or caregiver.
Bonus! You can get your own printable centers signs!
More ideas for toddlers:
Toddler resource books: