Creating a teaching center or a teacher resource center is fun. It is a task that is never really finished and there is joy in adding the new, culling worn out materials and rearranging the stock. A well-stocked resource center is a wondrous thing to behold, as there is a certain reverence that comes over a new teacher as she finds herself in the resource center of a vet.
A teacher center should echo the feel of the classroom. In classrooms for younger students the teacher center should be bright and colorful, the books should be suitable for little hands and there should be a lot of hands-on materials. Puzzles, blocks, dolls, puzzles and a globe would all be great additions to the class. Laminated pictures, mix and match flash cards and memory games are all resources to aid in teaching. An abacus and some handheld calculators are popular items, too.
In classrooms for children who are a bit older, a globe is still a great resource. Make sure to have an atlas nearby and as many maps as possible to go with it. Magazines and travel brochures are another way to learn about faraway places. A variety of worksheets in a plastic file organizer box come in handy for the students who enjoy a challenge. A flannel board with lots of story possibilities is a lot of fun, if space allows.
For older children, a resource center should be more organized and reflect a more mature user group. Still, magnetic poetry is a fantastic resource and you'll find that if the magnetic board is easily accessible, the constantly evolving poem will be a source of amusement and amazement. Children of all ages dream of travel, keep a globe in the center, as it is still relevant. The magazines, almanac, atlas and various maps complete the travel section. Photos are nice, too.
No matter what age group the teaching center is geared to, it has to have books and plenty of them. As teaching units come and go, so can the focus of the resource center. When the science lesson is on the solar system, load up the reading center with books that are on that topic, but not part of the lesson plan. This allows the students to make choices that are not required reading, but piqued their interest. Make sure there are choices for every holiday and season.
Building a decent teaching center can take a few years, but there are ways to get a good start on it. First, go to library book sales in the community. Books there sell for less than a dollar and there are a lot to choose from. On the final day of a weekend sale, the libraries are practically giving the books away and there are still some good ones available. Another way to add to your library is to ask for donations from the families at your school. As a matter of fact, this is no time to be proud, ask for donations from anywhere that has books. Sometimes it can be easier for a bookstore to donate books than to return them to the publisher. The publisher pays only a small percentage for some returns, but the goodwill and tax deduction from a donation may be worth the difference for the owner of an independent bookstore. Many printable resources are available online, free of charge and copyrights. Most bookstores give discounts to teachers, just ask and save your classroom money for the best sales. During "Banned Books Month" ask parents and friends to donate one of the books off the list, it raises awareness and boosts your inventory. You can also sponsor book sales at your school and earn free books for your class. Your resource center is an important part of your classroom, for some kids it may be the only place for them to feel comfortable reading or working. Make sure it reflects your love for learning so the children feel it, too.