Organizing and Managing Centers

The other day, (actually, I think it was yesterday - ha!) I posted my center menu that I'm doing this year.
(there's also a free center menu that's editable on that post! I explain the menu a little more on that post too)

 I had a few questions about how I do centers, so I'm going to explain as best as I can (it's so much harder in writing, isn't it?). I have 10 centers, which last for 2 weeks. On Monday of the first week, I explain the centers (and yes, I have some that forget, even with directions IN the buckets. oy!). Everyone picks one center each day. They use their clothespin, which has their number on it.

Since I have enough to only have 2 kids at each center, then that's the rule (so might change if I change up the centers later). If their clip doesn't fit on the clear strip, then they can't pick that center. They only do ONE center each day. When it's center time, then they finish up their seatwork (whatever that may be), and then get their bucket, which corresponds with the center label on the pocket chart. 

They take their bucket and find a spot in the room with their buddy. Sometimes it's a pocket chart, sometimes the computer, it varies. You can see inside the bucket is all of their materials they'll need for it, except for their clipboard and pencil. I have the glue, scissors, dry erase markers, and directions and materials in there for them. 

Once they finish their center, they clean up all the materials and put the buckets back. They put their center recording sheet on their desk (whether it's a dry erase pocket, a laminated Scholastic News, or a regular recording sheet.) and wait for me to come check it after I am finished with my reading groups. Then I check off their center menu. If they didn't finish it, then I circle the box where it says T.S. and if they did finish it (and to my liking) then I give them a star, sticker, or just my initials. While they are waiting on me to come check their center, they can go to OLD centers they need to finish on their menu, or they can finish other work, or read and take A.R. quizzes. 

Now, where do they keep their paper recording sheets and menu? In a center folder. Simple. At the end of the 2 weeks, I staple all the (real) papers to the menu and send it home with a "grade" on the menu. 

Now, you may have noticed that my labels and buckets are 2 different colors. One set is blue and the other set is green. Yep. And it's on purpose. My BIGGEST reason is because last year I had 5 reading centers and 5 math centers. BUT, I'm not doing actual math centers right now (in the same format as I am reading centers). We are still introducing a lot of other skills and procedures and basics in math, and I don't want to throw too much at them at once. I DO have them set up right now, so that we can use them when we have the time, and I'm just going to give the buckets to my groups, that way I can keep track of which group is doing which center.


Molly Moloney said...

What does the TS stand for?

Jen R said...

Teacher Signature :)

Mrs. Wheeler said...

I like it! It's a lot similar to mine but I don't give mine a "choice." They have to go to each center throughout the week. Essentially your kids are also going to every center, right? It's just the order that they do them in that they choose?

Mrs. Wheeler’s First Grade
Mrs. Wheeler TpT

Jen R said...

Yes, they're doing all the centers by the end, just choosing it whenever they want. :)

Sra. Carro said...

These are great ideas! I love doing math stations, but I have yet to find the perfect management system. Thank you for your tips!

Tabitha Carro
FlapJack Educational Resources

michellesphoto said...

Great ideas! Where did you get your buckets

Jen R said...

I believe I got them at either wal-mart or Target?? Or both, maybe :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this information and how you keep it all organized. I have been looking for ways to keep my centers organized - not with too many baskets and so forth, and I see that you are using scrapbook paper containers. I know exactly where to go and get them. Thank you for the tip!

Alicia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gretchen Deaton said...

Just curious . .how long do the kids spend on one center?

Unknown said...

I will have 26 children in my class this year. I don't see how 5 centers that has only 2 per center will work for a larger class than 10. Can you explain how to accommodate? Thanks! I love your work.

Jen R said...

Hi Janet. I had 18 kids and 10 reading centers at the time, so 2 at a center worked for me! You just have to do/change it up for what works for your kids! I change it every year. It's never the same :)

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