Ideas For 3rd Grade Centers

Help foster independence in your third-grade pupils through the use of centers.

Centers provide your third-grade pupils with open-ended activities and valuable learning opportunities. Take the time to organize a variety of centers in your room that pupils can rotate through. Link the activities in your centers to current curriculum objectives as well as areas of study you wish to review.


Create a literacy center for pupils to complete reading and writing activities. Print questions on index cards that can be used after reading a fictitious book. Ask pupils to complete tasks such as describing the main character, writing a story summary and describing the setting. Create a graphic organizer for pupils to complete after reading nonfiction books. Have them summarize their books using the five W’s: who, what, when, where and why. Stock your center with poems for pupils to practice reading to improve fluency and expression. Have them present their poems to the class. Create sentence starters for pupils to use to write short stories. Bins with magnetic letters can be used to practice spelling words.


Set out flashcards for pupils to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. Create word problems and stock your center with manipulatives such as counters to help pupils solve the questions. Toothpicks and marshmallows can be used to make three-dimensional solids. Also, give pupils nets for three-dimensional solids such as cubes and pyramids to cut out and assemble. Provide pupils with a variety of measurement tools such as measuring tapes, balance scales and measuring cups. Give them lists of items in the classroom to measure. Stock your center with manipulatives for pupils to explore. Include geoboards, tangrams and pattern blocks.

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Create a science center with a variety of items for your pupils to explore. Provide them with magnifying glasses and microscopes along with recording sheets to draw and describe objects. Add items such as insects, bird nests and leaves to the center. Provide pupils with a calendar and ask them to record the weather each day. Leave out magnets and a variety of materials to test such as paper clips, small cars, a rubber ball and pencils. Let pupils explore how things work by stocking your center with items they can take apart. Use things like clocks, cameras, radios and toys.


Give your pupils the opportunity to explore a variety of art tools. Set up paint easels and stock your center with smocks, paper and paint. Provide pupils with card-making supplies such as construction paper, envelopes, stamps, stickers, stencils and glitter. Set out sketch pads and pencils. Leave a stack of colored paper and a book about origami in your center. Provide pupils with miniature white boards and chalkboards for drawing. Modeling clay can be used to make many creations.