Career Centers: Let them Play!

Children learn though play. It’s so basic, that it’s easy to forget when planning classroom lessons. Also, easy to overlook when planning Career Day. This is the year I am branching out to incorporate centers (yup, playing to learn) into my program. My friend and colleague Sharon Lightstone has done Career Centers for about 20 years and she with a team of parents make it extraordinary at her school. I was inspired by Sharon as well as Sina Pickles and Teresa Sirmans of the Cobb County School District, who shared at a best practices session at the start of the year and I decided, it’s time to jump into Career Cluster Exploration Centers.  With the state of Georgia’s DOE expectation of all student getting exposure to all career clusters… this idea was tugging at me to do in an easy to replicate way.  I hope I can spell it out easily, otherwise do as educators do…. take the idea and make it your own.

center sign

future architects

Center 2: Architecture -Create a Lego Model Home Center

cooperative bridge building

Center 1: Construction- Cooperative Bridge Building

How Career Cluster Centers worked:

For Career Speakers Round Robin, I typically have 4 groups of about 35 students travel in a rotation to hear separate speakers in 4 classrooms. Each speaker is from one of the clusters that grade level needs to learn about (according to the Georgia DOE). This year, starting with baby steps I took one of the 4 grade speakers out of the mix and added Architecture and Construction Centers. The result was a huge hit.

I created this Career Cluster activity packet for the Architecture and Construction Career Cluster. At first, I thought I’d run 4 different centers in a room and have the students switch centers after 5 minutes in each center. In the packet you will see ideas and activity outlines for 4 centers. When reality set in (aka I realized that our Ipads have a firewall preventing YouTube along with other mild debacles) I decided on doing the most kid-friendly activities and narrowed it down. This is how it went

Each class was split into 4 groups and assigned to a center. So, for a group of 24 there were 8 kids assigned to either RED Center 1, RED Center 2, BLUE Center 1 or BLUE CENTER 2.

  • Red Center 1 and Blue Center 1 were both set up as “Cooperative Block Bridge Building (Construction)” and  Red Center 2 and Blue Center 2 were set up as  “Create a Model Home Legos (Architecture)”. (See directions for center in packet.) So there were 4 areas set up in the room and after the given time, Blue Center 1 switched with Blue Center 2 and Red Center 1 switched with Red Center 2.
  • Each group switched after a set time (5 -6 minutes) depending on how long the session is. My teachers said after accounting for giving directions and cleaning up this was sufficient for a 20 minute center time.
  • I had 2 teachers in there helping out with logistics (I hope your school has a Ms. Zurkuhlen and Mrs. Henderlong too… you know, the pitch-in-whenever-they-can type of ladies).
  • I had plastic hard hats for the teachers.
  • This was a teacher and kid favorite.

I hope I explained that sufficiently. It really was a great do-over learning experience for all. Let me know if any of the information needs clarification. Otherwise… LET THEM PLAY!!

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