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Has anyone successfully set up centers in their library for elementary school students?  If so, what kind of centers do you have?  I was thinking of starting centers next year, and having a listening table, a puzzle table, and ...

That's where I'm at.  I want to make the library more of a learning environment, especially for the younger ones, on the days they take out books and are not in the computer lab.  Any and all suggestions and advice would be greatly appreciated!


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Listening tables and puzzle tables are great ideas. You could consider Gardener's Multiple Intelligences when planning tables:

Logical/Mathematical - logic puzzles, calculators, measuring equipment (and items to be measured), Rubicks cubes, tic tac toe boards

Visual/spatial - jigsaw puzzles, wooden block puzzles, curly mind-bender metal puzzles, art stations (drawing, paint, clay, etc. with book posters nearby to emulate illustrators' works)

Musical - "instruments" (items that would make noise), blank musical notation sheets, CD stations with literature-related selections or audio books

Interpersonal/Intrapersonal - social center (small house, beanbags situated close together, shared rug space) with items to discuss (baskets of books, costumes of famous book characters etc.), puppet stage, or simple stage to act on

Naturalist -pine cones, shells, rocks, magnifying glasses, microscopes, situated near aquarium or class pet (if possible)

Existential - question of the week with associated items to explore the question ("What is in space?" "Why is kindness important?")

Bodily Kinesthetic -any of the above, table of squishy/tactile objects, easels with felt attached and felt characters to retell stories

This may be very broad and overlap into other content domains, but a library has the opportunity to represent all forms of learning that are happening at the school, so hopefully some of the above ideas will match the learning at your school!

Thank you!  These are some great ideas! 

I was thinking of getting a felt board to use with the kindergarteners during story time, but using it as part of the centers might be a better use for a felt board- especially if I have the students retell a story using that. 

I appreciate your feedback!


Hi Dana!

I just wrote a book for Upstart called The Centered School Library which shows you how to set up work stations to teach library skills. I also have a blog at to give us space to collaborate on library centers and our experiences with them. Everyone I know that has added learning centers in their elementary school library has been delighted with the way they create an engaging atmosphere for students. I hope you'll join in the conversation on my blog and let me know about your centers!

Cari Young

Thank you!  I've just bookmarked your website and as soon as I discuss starting a library center in my library with my principal, I'm good to go. 

I'm new to this job, and I want to make an impression, and centers seems like a great idea on so many levels.  With school budgets being cut left and right, and this being my second library job (first one was cut due to the budget) I want to make my school see that I am invaluable.  Hopefully, this will show them that they chose the right girl for the job!

Again, thank you for your help!

I had a listening center, leap pads and computers. My library had a subscription to tumble books, that's what the students would do on the computer. I also had some library games, abc order, a matching game with the Dewey decimal categories. I think the games were ordered from Upstart. It takes quite a bit of time with k-1 to get them going. But once they reach 2nd grade they are familiar with how everything works.


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