Living Centers In Elementary Classrooms
I posted the information below last summer about living centers in my class. I had some great success with many of them and not so much with others. What I do know for sure is that I want them all back again this year and I might even add a couple more. The forest floor terrarium was by far the most successful but we learned a lot from all o the centers. We raised some crayfish in the aquarium, explored hermit crabs at the beach and our pet beta was fun to feed all year. I was always taken back by how much time the kids will spend observing these living centers and how often they fit into our curriculum.
One of the great things that happened in my class last year was the decomposing bucket. (read about it here) The success of that “living center” has led me to add more living centers to my class this year. As I planned these centers this summer I intended to have them all set up and ready to go when the class arrived the first day. The more I thought about why the decomposing bucket was so successful the more I began to think that the class being involved with the process was important. So today when the kids walked in to the class today for meet the teacher I had four living centers with a minimal set up and one partially setup. (shown below)
I loved the wonder and questions I got from the kids as they (and parents) looked at these centers.
Student- “There is nothing there!” Me- “Are you sure”
Student- “I think a lizard is in there?” Me- “Why do you think that”
Student- “Why are there rocks in here?” Me- I wonder that too”
I plan to let the kids ask questions and explore the centers the first few weeks before we begin to plan what living things to add to them. We will research different habitats, the needs of animals and problem solve to decide what will actually work in each center.
Here are the living centers I have planned for now…
The aquarium- 2.5 gallon tank with two living plants and rocks.
The beach tank- sand, shells and some driftwood. Of course it is a setup for hermit crabs but I’m curious to see what else we might come up with.
The desert tank- Rocks, wood and a part of a fake plant
The Forest Floor Tank- soil, sticks, a few rocks and organic matter
The wetland- Inspired by this post. I already added a Beta to this center so it is more setup than the others. This center is more for me (I love water gardens) and I plan to add some fun plants later in the year.