Center Themes

This page includes a list of more than 30 themed center options with brief descriptions.  Note that teacher flexibility is a primary feature of PBC and that the themes and suggestions are neither compulsory nor prohibitive.  While the center names, locations, and on occasion, materials remain the same throughout the year, most of the materials and activities change according to educator preferences and priorities.  Most PBC teachers have been successful using between 10-15 centers at a time.  

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but play is certainly the father.  -Roger von Oech

5 Basic Centers- These are the five core centers of the system and a good starting place for implementing PBC:

  •  Art & Design Center
  • Building & Engineering Center
  • Imagination Center
  • Games & Puzzles Center
  • School Center

When children pretend, they’re using their imaginations to move beyond the bounds of reality. A stick can be a magic wand. A sock can be a puppet. A small child can be a superhero.  -Fred Rogers

5 Centers That Complement Curriculum-  These centers most conveniently connect to, align with, and enrich academic content:   

  • Math Center
  • Science Center
  • Reading Center
  • Word Work & Writing Center
  • Listening Center

A child’s greatest achievements are possible in play, achievements that tomorrow will become her basic level of real action and morality. ~ Lev Vygotsky, Mind in Society

5 Easy Add-ons- These simple centers can stand alone or be quick additions to existing centers.  They typically take up less space and require little to no preparation and few additional materials:  

  • Resting Center
  • Nature Table Center 
  • Estimation Jar 
  • Whiteboard Center 
  • Extra Center- a completely flexible space

Naming letters and numbers is superficial and almost irrelevant in relation to the capacities we want to help children develop: self-regulation, problem-solving ability, social and emotional competence, imagination, initiative, curiosity, original thinking — these capacities make or break success in school and life . . . -Nancy Carlsson-Paige

Enrichment Centers- These are specialty centers that can be tailored to teacher preference, available materials, and classroom needs and space:  

  • Sensory Center 
  • Technology Center
  • Sand Center
  • Water Center
  • Dough or Clay Center
  • Easel Center
  • Puppet Theater Center
  • Chalkboard Center
  • Special Projects Center 
  • Dance & Movement Center
  • Bulletin Board Center
  • Music Center
  • Fine Motor Center
  • Display Center
  • Yoga Center
  • Magnet Wall Center
  • Makerspace Center
  • Breakerspace Center
  • Meditation Center
  • Helper Center

Our children from their earliest years must take part in all the more lawful forms of play, for if they are not surrounded with such an atmosphere they can never grow up to be well conducted and virtuous citizens. -Plato http://www.allianceforchildhood.org/sites/allianceforchildhood.org/files/file/Improving_Children_s_Health_Through_Play.pdf