Before the school week even starts, we have so much to do! We have the usable lesson plans to make, the long lesson plans to make for our administrators, and of course all the prepping of all the things! One thing that doesn’t have to be a pain is prepping weekly centers. I have a simple 4 step system to ensure your centers are prepped and ready to go. What does that mean for you? One thing you know will be done before you leave on Friday for the weekend!
1: Get Organized!
Prepping weekly centers always starts with the biggest step at all: organizing! You have all your centers organized before prepping weekly centers becomes a piece of cake! If you haven’t already, make sure you check out this video that talks all about getting your centers organized and ready to go! The video also talks about how to get organized so all you need to do is grab and go! Plus, it has great tools to help you keep your centers organized so you don’t have a mess to deal with at the end of the year. If that’s not enough, there’s also a great free 3 Steps to Organizing Your Math and Literacy Centers guide complete with labels to get your centers up and running!
2: Planning Weekly Centers
Once you have everything organized, it’s time to start planning weekly centers. One of the biggest mistakes I see teachers make is thinking that planning centers means they have to do their weekly lesson plans before their centers can be planned. This isn’t at all what needs to happen. Your centers can be planned ahead of time because their whole purpose is to enrich and review past material. Centers are never full of new stuff you’re learning that week. If they were, you’d never be able to have small groups during center time because you would have too many students with questions.
Typically, I like to say if it’s something we’ve learned two weeks ago, we can now do them independently in centers. This works great for prepping weekly centers. Why? Because you just need to grab your lessons from two weeks ago. Then, quickly write the skills down you want to put into your centers.
3: Prepping Weekly Activities to Pull and Play
Once I know what skills I want to work on from that time, I can start prepping weekly centers. Prepping your center activities is best done when you have put in a little time BEFORE the week you need them. You can either spend the summer getting these all together or you can do it in batches throughout the year. I like my summer vacations (who doesn’t!) and I didn’t want to spend them prepping weekly centers. So, I also prepped activities in batches of 4 to 6 weeks at a time.
How To Batch Prep Math and Literacy Centers
If you are like me and you don’t want to use your precious summer moments to prep centers, you can batch prep centers throughout the year. I would do this by picking a day each month to print the centers. Then I would pick another day to laminate them. Next, was a day to cut out and organize the centers into their boxes. In three days (usually about an hour or two after school), I could have an entire MONTH worth of centers prepared and ready to pull! I always did this ahead of time. So, in September, I am prepping weekly centers for October. Of course I put everything into the boxes with labels from my organization system so I can find them each week when prepping weekly centers.
Once these are prepped, you don’t have to do this again! This makes each year you use centers easily to prep!
Where to Get Math and Literacy Center Activities
All of this prepping weekly centers only works if you have center activities in your boxes! That’s why we have created our Year Long Math and Literacy Centers Bundles for grades kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade! These center activities are broken down into monthly units based on a general time frame of when the skill would be reviewed.
Because we know every teacher is different, we have two volumes of our Year Long Math and Literacy Centers Bundles. Each volume has unique activities to cover most of the math and literacy standards you teach for your grade level. The Volume One set has holiday themed activities that go with the corresponding months. However, the Volume Two set has themes but are not based on holidays so they are good all year!
4: Planning and Prepping Weekly Center Activities in 30 Minutes
Now that you have everything organized, everything prepped, and everything put into a neat little box with a label, how do you get them on the tables and ready to rock for Monday in 30 minutes on Friday? Simple! You follow this stickin’ simple six step method!
- First, you want to move all of your used centers to your teacher table.
- Second, you want to grab my lesson plans from two weeks prior and pick the skills I want to have in my centers the following week.
- Third, I check my handy-dandy center guide to find the unit that has the skills I want to include in my centers. I pull those centers from my perfectly organized boxes!
- Fourth, I put my new centers out with any manipulatives and supplies needed for that activity.
- Fifth, I return the used centers to their proper boxes.
- Sixth, I turn my light off and I LEAVE for the weakening knowing my centers are ready to go for the next week.
Prepping weekly center activities is that simple!
How Many Activities Do I Need to Prep?
One of my most asked questions is how many center activities do you prepare each week. I typically prep between 20 and 25 activities. I use eighth week one and another eight week two. In week three, four of them are new and four of them are from week one. During week three, I have four new ones and four from week one. Finally, in week four I have four new ones and four from week two. Students don’t have a problem repeating the same activities because it’s something they can keep working on. Plus, they feel super accomplished when they can do the work all by themselves! I also have the opportunity to successfully run my small groups. Overall, this meant less work for me and more repetition for my students and great small group sessions! This was a win win win!
Prepping weekly centers doesn’t have to be another thing to add to your list. By following this simple system, you’ll be able to make sure your centers are ready to go before you leave school on Friday! Plus, you can get great centers with so many of the standards already covered for the whole year with our math and literacy centers bundles. So, stop stressing about centers and get your year prepped today!
Until Next Time…
Keep Being Educational Rock Stars