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Before school starts, educators go in to their classrooms to set up the environment.  Making a list of the centres you want in your classroom is a good place to start.  Then, you can look at the classroom and see where each centre you want will fit, and if it will work in your room.  Think about where you will need space for large group instruction times, and where in your room will suit small group activities.  Also, think about which centres will require a quiet area, such as a reading/book centre, and try to avoid putting those centres next to a centre that can become busy/noisy, such as a dramatic play centre.  The furniture that you will need for your centres will also need to be taken into account when setting up your classroom. 

An important aspect to chosing the learning centres you want at the beginning of a school year is to consider what they children will want to do.  Will the children want to begin with learning words from your word wall?  Or will they be more engaged in centres where they can be hands on?  Some suggestions for centres at the beginning of a school year are an open-ended art centre, sensory tables, blocks, dramatic play, etc…

Once the first day of school arrives, explain the centres briefly to the students.  Take them on a tour of the classroom so they can see what is available for them to play with.  When the children are engaged at the centres, circulate so that you can spend a few minutes with each child and get to know them a little bit and discover their individual interests.  This can also give you some insight into adjusts you may want to make to centres.  You can also model for children while you spend time at each centre.