Centers Organization

Centers organization...  It's probably one of the hardest thing to get a handle on when you teach primary. Materials have to be organized, meaningful, and engaging for students.  If you leave any of this to chance your center time may just fall apart.  Believe me...I've lived to tell the tale! 

 While my students are doing their word work center each morning I am teaching intervention groups so I have NO TIME to fix their problems for them.  My intervention time depends on them being as independent as possible.   Here are a five tips to easy center management.

1.  Where do I put centers?

In my experience centers work best if they are stored where students can access them easily.  A simple bookshelf works great for that.  I had this shelf that I originally used as a mailbox to hand back work but now that I have 45 students I can't use it for that anymore.  It gives me plenty of space though as a centers shelf.

2.  Keep them consistent!

My centers are the same each week. I stick to ABC Center, Cut & Glue, Word Work, Write the Room, and the Listening Station. I switch out the activities but no matter what my kiddos know what is expected of them at each center.  Also, once I get them "trained" on an activity I keep including it!  
We have 4 or 5 different types of Cut & Glue centers now and every kiddo has their favorite. 
Students can cut and glue letters, words, sentences, or reading concepts.

 3. Let your centers grow with your students.  

I start the year with very simple ABC Centers.  By Fall Break we don't really need that center anymore (although we keep it because they love it!).  I introduce the Word Work center to switch our focus to words. 
Students enjoy using dabbers (or daubers...) putting the alphabet in order, and writing letters in this center.
These are examples of what our ABC Centers have at the beginning of the year.  Very simple but hands on!

Word work centers focus on sight words and building CVC words.

 4.  Allow your students to move around the room.

Independence means "doing something by myself" in our classroom.  I don't need permission, I don't need to tell someone what I'm doing (Kinders love to tell you what they are doing), and I can make good choices.  
Our Write the Room center is a weekly favorite (I have some kids that would do it every day!)  The only rule about Write the Room is that they need to be independent. Students use the recording sheet to collect words from around the room.  Recently they have been discovering words from the math vocabulary wall, our writing goals charts (friends names) and they are noticing that our focus wall has a lot of great words on it.  
Students use a clip board and walk around the room for this center. 

   5.  Choice!

I am a huge control freak!  I have this uncontrollable urge to tell everybody what to do all of the time.  This is a big struggle for me in the classroom but when allow myself to "let it go" and give students choices my day goes so much better!  When students have a choice they are that much more engaged in the activity.  I only make the suggestion that they should do a new center each day.  To round out our choices we have a listening station available each day. Students listen to a story and then complete a response page to go with it.  I make our listening station meet the comprehension focus for the week (character, setting, retell...)  If they only have time to listen to the story that's ok!  Listening to reading is so important!
Here are some easy prep ideas to get centers organized in your room!
Kindergarten Centers Unit 2