Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Classroom Organization Blog Hop (Organizing Centers and Student Choice)

There is just something about the weeks after the holidays, I am in total organization mode.  I think it's mainly because of all the new stuff that enters my life for Christmas.  I really feel the need to clean out and organize, both at home and at school.  Now is the perfect time for Primary Powers' Organization Blog Hop.

I'd like to share a few details about how I organize the literacy and math centers in my classroom.

There are so many ways to successfully organize learning centers in the classroom.  There are totes, buckets, bags, and bins to provide homes for centers.  There are schedules on pocket charts,  clipboards,  smart boards, and on posters to help students know where they need to be.
There is not just one perfect way to organize learning centers.  However, I have an effective way to organize learning centers and to give students CHOICE at the same time.
Two words . . .  center cards.  Center cards are my key to organizing centers and allowing students choice.  

Basically my centers are housed in clear plastic shoe boxes.  In each box you will find a bag with all the center cards and any other necessary materials.  The recording sheets are also in the box.  The last component is the center card.  
The center card has a list of all the students in my class and which center is in the box.  They are laminated so students can mark on them with dry erase markers.

I do not put lids on my boxes.  The center cards rest on top and make it very easy for the students to identify the center. 
Pictured below are my literacy centers.  I usually have 10 out at a time and change them monthly.  The center cards are labeled by letter.

When students complete centers, they mark through their names on the center card.  (As you can see, we are getting close to the end of the month.  Almost all the names are marked.)
Since students are keeping track of which centers they have completed, there is no reason for me to make a schedule.  They can see which ones they've completed and which ones are left to do based on the center cards.

My math centers run exactly the same way.  But, instead of being stored on shelves, I have them in a large cabinet.

Again, the boxes hold the center pieces and any other materials, as well as the recording sheet for the center.  For math centers, the cards are labeled with numbers and student names.

If you would like a FREE set of these center cards to try out with your own students, you can click on the picture below.  Even if you do not want to let go and allow students to choose their centers, these cards are a great visual for young learners to keep track of their accomplishments.

Thanks to the talented Ms. Cara Carroll at The First Grade Parade for the center card idea.  So simple and so effective. :)

Now, head over to Angela's blog to learn about how she organizes her library.


  1. I wish my centers were as organized as yours!!!!! Thanks for sharing your tips! :)

    A Sunny Day in First Grade

  2. I love your idea. Thank you for sharing!

  3. What a great idea! Do you everbjavepronlems with kids re-doing a station to avoid another?

  4. Good question.
    Well my students work with a partner on centers, which almost always keeps them honest. However, you could also make copies of the center cards (without laminating them) and have students use actual markers, that way there is not chance to erase. Or you could do a little check-in list and students let you know what center they complete each day. If there is a question in your mind, you could always check the list.
    Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I love this idea! Thanks for sharing the cards. I will definitely be using them!

  6. Those pictures are GLORIOUS!! That is some B-E-A-Utiful organization. Love it!
    A Burst of First

  7. I am just in awe at your center organization!!! Totally awesome!!!

    The Daily Alphabet

  8. This is an awesome idea and one I am going to use with my class. Thanks for sharing!
    Second Grade Perks
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  9. I love this idea. Thanks for the freebie.

  10. Hi! I am looking for a new way to structure math and am happy I found your post! I love Daily 5 and would like to do something similar in math. Are your Math With Someone centers differentiated in any way or do all students do the same activities? The differences in my students' levels are extreme and I haven't figured out an easy way to differentiate centers like this. Also, do you assign one of the Daily 3 activities similar to a 3 group rotation or give them the choice to go to any of the 3? Do too many students pick the same one at the same time? And last question... during the Math With Someone, does picking their own partners and getting started right away run pretty smoothly? I need to get the book but would love some help in the meantime! Thank you!

  11. I love this! I have so many questions... How many centers do the students typically get through each day? How often do you change out the activities? What do you do for students who finish all the centers earlier than others? Thanks for the great ideas and freebie!

  12. These are awesome AND such a lifesaver....thank you so very rock!! :)

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