Everything You Need to Quickly Create 10 Learning Center Boxes – For Your Early-Elementary Learner


This is part of our 2020 Back to (Virtual) School series. You can find our other posts here.

UPDATE: As I was putting my boxes together, I created labels to keep everything organized. You can get the free printable at the end of this post.

We started virtual school this week, and one thing I had anticipated definitely came true:

In order for me to be able to have my own work day, I need to provide activities to fill the gaps in my son’s virtual school day.

Teachers are doing the impossible corralling 29 students on Zoom each day (bah!), but regardless of the most detailed schedules, there are still moments during his school day when my son is sitting at his desk and doesn’t have anything to do. The learning boxes below are to help fill those moments (so I can keep working in the other room!). They pull together things that he is interested in (to keep his attention). My plan is to use this for the first 4 weeks of school or so, and then sub in some new seasonal activities.

The list below isn’t comprehensive by any means – the possibilities are endless. So if you have a kid with different interests, leave us a comment below and we’d be happy to suggest some resources for you to make your own boxes!

Regardless, doing an hour or so of prep to create these will be well worth it as we all work through virtual school challenges for the next little while.

You can jump down to the 10 learning boxes and come back and review supplies later.

Supplies for all 10 boxes

Most of the boxes below are made with items you already have at home or just require you to print out some supporting worksheets. The following is a list of some educational toys that you might want to buy, see more of the details for each box below.

Small containers

If you already have small plastic bins (shoe size) or larger pencil boxes you can use those. (I have found that A LOT of supplies are sold out right now!) The following sizes should work + store well, but if you change what boxes you want to do just review the dimensions.

  1. Cutting Practice
  2. Teen Numbers + Place Values
    • Linking Cubes – these are optional, but are great to help kids visualize groups of ten + counting
  3. Skip Counting – see the worksheets below
  4. Fractions
    • Play-Doh – this is a fun scented pack but any will work
    • Large lego board – or you can use larger base pieces you may already have
  5. Domino Math
  6. Popsicle Stick Shapes
  7. Counting Money
  8. Not a Box Pre-Writing
    • Not a Box – hardcover, paperback and board book available along with digital options
  9. Telling Time Dice Game
  10. Name + Address Recognition

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases. (This does not change the price that you pay at all!) Regardless, all product recommendations are my own opinions.


Ideal Age Range:

This is designed for kids in Kindergarten + 1st Grade. (Some of the topics are a little older, but you can adjust these boxes as needed to make it interesting for your kid!)

Mess Factor:

Low. Everything is designed for a child to do at their desk or in their learning space. (Paint could be a tad messy, but should be manageable for 5 or 6 year old.)

Prep Time:

Making all 10 boxes should take you about an hour to print everything + compile various accessories.


How to Prep:

Back to School rushes have slowed shipping and pick up of a lot of organization supplies, so I would recommend ordering everything you need now (especially bins).

Below you can see the posts that inspired all of the boxes that I am going to be making. Given the shipping challenges mentioned above, we are still working on making ours for the start of the school year. We will update this post with pictures and play notes over the next few weeks.

Several boxes are a combination of ideas and resources from others and printables that I have created.

Let us know what questions or comments you have below!

  1. Cutting Practice

My son really loves trolls, so when I saw this cutting practice activity from Totschooling I knew that I had to make this for him (he has already seen me prepping it and his is VERY interested). In addition to this great activity (with free printables), I have made some colorful cutting sheets of my own that are a little more basic.

To add to these printables (or instead of them), simply cut a piece of colorful construction paper into 2 or 4 pieces. Draw different cutting lines on each sheet and include it in your box.

To make this box, print everything out and add them in to the box with kids safety scissors. Save the files so that you can print more as you rotate the box through a few times. You may want to not use all of the designs at one time to keep it more interesting. (Make sure your child has a trash can in their learning space, to make clean up quick + easy.)

FREE Trolls inspired cutting pack to practice scissor skills and fine motor skills. Great for preschoolers and kindergarten who love the movie Trolls.
totschooling.net
  1. Teen Numbers + Place Values

This center from KeepingmyKiddoBusy is what inspired this box. She has a plethora of math activities included on this page, and a bunch of free printables. You can pick and choose what you include or rotate it in to keep things fresh. I am buying counting blocks (linked above) to make this more tactile.

Screen-Shot-2018-03-10-at-7.43.00-PM.png
keepingmykiddobusy.com
  1. Skip Counting

My son loves multiplication, so doing these skip counting worksheets helps him practice those base skills. These have apple themes which make them perfect for back to school fall season (I live in Southern CA, I have to pretend we have seasons…!)

givethekidssomethingtodo.com

Just rotate these sheets into the boxes with a pencil. You can also use counter learning toys here (like blocks from the teens box in supplies) to help out or make it more tactile.

Download my files for Skip Counting by 2s, 3s, 4s + 5s here:

  1. Fractions

My son came home from his grandparents’ house a few weeks ago obsessed with fractions. He is just at a basic level of interest right now, but I’m making this box because he loves talking fractions! Both of the posts below inspired the box that I am making.

I will be putting 1 can of Play-Doh, fraction mats + fraction cards into this box. I am also going to steal a big lego base (from the thousands of legos we have) and 1 x 4 cubes to set up something like the picture on the right below. Both Play-Dohs + Legos can use the same fraction cards that are included in the printables below. You can also just cut up paper and write your own!

flapjackeducation.com
Lego Fraction Games for Kids
jdaniel4smom.com

Here are printables that I made. It includes two pages of fraction cards (you can use for dough fractions or legos), and one sheet of dough mats. You should laminate the dough mats so that you can re-use multiple times. If you don’t have a laminator handy, just print on heavy paper and plan to restock this box between rotations.

  1. Domino Math

We have a huge domino set that rarely gets played with, so I was immediately drawn to this Domino Math Center from My Fabulous Class (use this link to see TONS of math-related ideas). If you click on the image below it will take you right to where you can buy the printable for the Domino Center.

Math Centers
MyFabulousClass.com

I will be including these printables, colorful dominos and a pencil in this activity box.

  1. Popsicle Stick Shapes

I love this tactile version of math and was inspired by this post from The Stem Laboratory. There are 2D + 3D shape versions to use.

thestemlaboratory.com

In this box I will include a can of Play-Doh, colorful popsicle sticks (you can also use natural), along with the printable shape guides. Definitely rotate these cards in to keep the box fresh!

  1. Counting Money

My son has recently become very interested in money (mostly his allowance because he wants to buy Super Mario legos). He still struggles telling which coin is which, but he loves math. So this is a perfect practice activity for him. I am going to use the printables from The Teaching Bug 36 along with the play coins (see supplies above) in this box.

theteachingbug36.blogspot.com
  1. Not a Box Pre-Writing

Most of the boxes that I am doing are things that I know my son loves. Writing is NOT one of those things! But he does love reading and he has incredibly creative ideas. So I loved this post by Mrs. Jones’ Creation Station.

You can read the book with your child at bedtime (or include it in the box). I’ll also put in one printable sheet per rotation, along with crayons and a pencil.

mrsjonescreationstation.com
  1. Telling Time Dice Game

My son is getting pretty good at telling time with a digital clock, but we still need work on analog. This is a great game from Enza’s Bargains that he can play on his own and it will keep him interested because rolling the dice and following directions seems like cracking a secret code!

To make the box, simply include the play clock (from supplies above), dice and use an index card or piece of paper to write out her code!

Rush Hour Game - How to TEACH Kids How to Tell Time!
enzasbargains.com
  1. Name + Address Recognition

I think it is mom guilt, but i feel like my son is behind is knowing our address and phone (we don’t even have a house phone!). So I loved these mats from Sea of Knowledge because I think I can use them to emphasize this. The graphic below is linked direct to where you can buy her printables.

seaofknowledge.org

To make these boxes, I am going to use the editable printables with my son’s name, last name, street address, city + state, zipcode and phone number. I’ll rotate these mats in week-to-week. You can laminate them if you want or just use regular paper. Put a few q-tips in the box along with a small thing of paint. In the supplies above there are small paint containers that you can fill up – I like this better than just putting a paint jar in there!

Now that you have reviewed all of the learning center boxes, I hope that you are inspired to prep some activities. I really believe that this will help keep YOU productive during your work day, with the added benefit of enhancing your child’s learning!

You can jump back to supplies to review what you need.

Label Printables

These files are two sheets of labels that you can use to create all of the boxes included in this post. There are also two bonus labels for activities or books that you feel like integrating as you are putting these together.


I would love to hear about the learning boxes you are putting together for your early-elementary learners! Every child is different, so please let us know if we can help with ideas for subjects that your kid is interested in. Leave us a comment below.

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