Storing centers is kinda a personal preference! However, what I have found that works best for me is to store them by month. I keep my centers in containers (one for each month) based on the skills I am reviewing that month. Each individual center is stored in a gallon Ziploc bag and any small pieces that a center might have is stored in a quart size bag. All the large bags are then placed in the plastic box so that each month I can simply pull the box and have centers at the ready! I don’t store the supplies they need for each center in this box though, as many supplies are used from center to center. You can find the boxes I use here: https://amzn.to/3adhPFj
I used to search and scour the internet for center activities however, I found it difficult to find centers that followed predictable patterns and gave my students the ease of use that they needed. This is when I developed my learning centers. I have them all available in my shop for K-4 (and 5th grade is on the way). I often found center activities on teacher sites and blogs but was careful that they followed similar patterns that my students were already used to so that they could work independently and I wasn’t having to reteach instructions each time!
This depends on the length of my math or literacy block and how many students I have. I typically don’t like my partner groups to be more than 3…even if I have multiple partner groups at a center working. I prefer partner groups of 2, with no more than two groups at a center. I usually had at least 75 minutes for math and 75 min for literacy so I could run 5 rotations. I did group by ability, for the most part, so that when they rotated through my teacher table they were with their small group reading peers.
This was flexible depending on the time I had for the block. In a 75 minute block, I could run 5 rotations. Each rotation was 15 minutes (including clean up and transition). This left 12-13 minutes in each center for students to work! I have run them in a 60 minute block with only 10 minutes of work time for students.
I prefer COLOR! I just do! I never worked in a school where we had access to a color printer! However, then I discovered HP INSTANT INK! This program gave them ability to print 300 pages per month in FULL COLOR for only $10. The best part was, I created the centers in my shop with this in mind. Also, once I printed them, they could be used from year to year so I wasn’t having to re-print them each year! HP INSTANT INK has other plans available as well…check them out here: http://try.hpinstantink.com/nZCNT
I print them using my HP ENVY 5055 printer: https://amzn.to/2FV2gE9
Just like storing them, I use these boxes: https://amzn.to/3adhPFj
I use one box per center and place the center (in its plastic bag) along with any supplies the students will need for the center!
This makes it super simple to change them out each time and my students loved this as a classroom job!
Making centers last requires a few up front things! I print them using my HP ENVY 5055 and I always print them on CARDSTOCK for durability. Once printed, I laminated them using my personal laminator and laminating sheets. Once they were done, they were done! I make my centers last from year to year with only the occasional piece needing to be reprinted…and this was usually due to it being lost…not destroyed!
YES! I started making my own centers when I couldn’t find activities that followed those predictable patterns I talked about in the videos. You can find them HERE.
I use a simple rotation display that I created! I share it and many other tools inside the Learning Centers Made Easy Masterclass!
My rotation display was not interactive. It was there as an anchor chart and for reference. My students knew where to go because I had set them up for success from the start!
Like I said in the videos, your students should know where they go “NEXT” without this display, but it’s great to have for those times when your teacher brain isn’t firing right LOL!
Stopping interruptions is probably the biggest issue I hear from teachers. I use simple things to make sure there is a procedure for EVERYTHING that might come up! We have a procedure for going to bathroom, sharpening a pencil, getting a bandaid, and more!
Making sure you have procedures in place for EVERYTHING is the best way to stop the interruptions! Whether it’s a crown on your head while you are in small groups that signals that they can’t talk to you right now or a stop sign on your table, making sure your students know you can’t be interrupted at your table unless it’s a TRUE emergency is the best.
Then we practice…A LOT!