We have 6 learning centers in our 1st and 2nd grade classroom: computer, art, reading corner, listening center, construction, and writing. Students go to a different center for about 20 minutes each day during guided reading time. Students look at the large center chart on the bulletin board to know where to go. One or two children are at each center. Every six days (after each student has done each center) I change the center activities. The computer center uses a developmentally appropriate educational CD-rom with headphones. There are three different story tapes with books at the listening center, each in a gallon-size zip-lock bag; one may have a finger puppet or small stuffed animal that correlates to the story. The writing center is a "real" desk with an attached bookshelf on top containing picture dictionaries, spelling dictionaries, postcards, stationery, pencils, ABC stencils, gel pens, and "Oopsie tape" (white correction tape about an inch wide.) There is also an easel with a white board and dry erase markers. Students use Wikki stix or letter tiles to create their spelling words for the week; then they may write a friendly letter or card to someone, do ABC puzzles, or write a story. At the construction center students build with Legos, Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, whatever I put in the dishpan tub for building. The activity at the art center may be seasonal or theme-related. Sometimes it's a craft with very specific directions; other times it's more "free choice". I've also had children use a Lite Brite in the art center. In the reading corner students may read from their own personal book box of "just-right" books or select seasonal or theme-related books from the book rack. There's a rocking chair, a small easy chair, a few pillows, and a basket of stuffed animals. You could also have a math center, science center, or puzzle center.
Students are taught from the first day of school to clean up their center when they are finished or when they hear the bell signal from me to clean up. If students finish early at their center, there is a "What Do I Do Now?" chart with a list of other things they may do at their seat. One of our classroom jobs is "Center inspector". Before we go out for morning recess, the center inspector checks for cleanliness. If a center isn't clean, the helper checks the center chart to see who was there that day to come and clean it up.