Saturday, July 27, 2013


Alright y'all - I'm coming out of blogger retirement!  I finished my last assignment for my summer classes last night and I officially have a 3 week break!  I could barely sleep last night thinking about all the things I wanted to create and blog about before I go back to school in 3 weeks.

Let's talk about centers.  I have seen an increasing amount of people going to the Daily 5, but I haven't been to training on it and don't know much about it, so I am still planning to run things the way I always have.  I do centers and groups for 1 hour and 40 minutes Monday-Thursday.  Each group is 25 minutes.  On Friday we do a make and take book and art project in place of reading groups and centers.

The first thing you need to do is create your reading groups based on guided reading levels.

Once you have your reading levels and your reading groups made, you need to make center groups using 1-2 of each group.

It will look something like this:

Green and orange are together in centers and blue and red are together in centers, so you want to make sure you choose students that can work together.  In my room, I don't allow more than 2 students at a center to keep the noise level down, so occasionally someone is working by themselves.  My TA circulates around the centers during that time to assist and work with students as well.

I've seen many ways to make a center board, but this is how I make mine:

I only do centers Monday-Thursday which is why there are only 4 boxes going across.  You may choose to do this a different way.  Don't forget to laminate it!

Next you need to add your center icons for the centers you have opened for the week as well as a list of the center groups.  I use Velcro to attach mine because it's easy to move.  

I only open 8 centers per week.  The students go to the two centers above their name.  It doesn't matter what order they go to the centers in as long as they go to both and there aren't more than 2 people at the center at the same time.  The centers I choose are usually based on what the students need.  I typically keep Art, Listening, ABC, Pocket Chart, Math and Write the Room open most every week and rotate the extra two.  My centers are based on whatever my weekly theme is.  Each center typically has a game or task the students need to complete and then some sort of independent practice for accountability.

Examples of what might be in these centers:
Art - Thematic Art Project
Listening - Thematic Listening Book
ABC - Anything pertaining to the alphabet, rhyming words, beginning/middle/ending sounds
Pocket Chart - Matching Thematic Pictures and Words
Math - A review of the previous week's topic or that week's topic
Write the Room - Finding the picture & writing the word (fill in the blank sentences at the end of the year) addition, subtraction
Writing - (Not included on the chart) Sight Word sentences
Puzzles - Large floor puzzles
Computers - Whatever game we worked on in computer lab that week

If you purchase my thematic packs on TpT, you will see that I have centers laid out so that you will have 6-8 for the week.

You might think changing centers each week is a lot of work, but I find that my students get bored with the same activity so it keeps things going for us.  My assistant grades the center work during center time so she can discuss any mistakes she finds with the student and help them to correct them.

At the end of the day, rotate your names to the right and leave your icons in the same place.

Here's how your rotations will look: (You may not use colors, you may use other names for your groups)

Every group sees the teacher and goes to 2 center and does a seat work.  What is seat work you ask?  It's usually some kind of literacy based review.  I try to include several of these in my thematic packs also. Students also read to themselves during this time.

A few other things - I use a timer to keep track of time, students know to move to their next place when the timer goes off.  I put the center icons at each center so students can match them and get to the right place on their own.  I put task cards at each center to explain what students are accountable for.  The students definitely cannot read these in the beginning, but if anyone walked into the room they would know and be able to help my students.  I explain all the centers on Monday.  I store all my centers and task cards by theme in a filing cabinet so I can use them from year to year.  I can tweak the centers if necessary based on student needs.

All of my center packs are located in my TpT store.  You can also find this:

It includes all the center icons, (small for your chart and medium or large to label your centers) directions and forms.  Any questions you have - please ask!  Remember - all products are 50% off for the first 48 hours! 

Are you still with me? How do you run centers in your classroom?  Leave a comment telling us about it and your email address and I will choose a random winner tomorrow night and email you the packet! :)

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  1. Hi! I like your idea about 4 days w centers and Fridays for an art project or other things..I really miss doing all the fun thematic art with my kids! I have centers (5/10)5 that I keep (art, kitchen, library, sand/water, fine motor toys) and 5 are review of things we learn each week. Those 5 change each week. I also move the pic icons down and leave the names. Since we always have more that 20 kids I split the 5-6 kids per center (3 in one 2 in the other) and just flip flop the centers. For exp, if a group is doing kitchen and syllable review, 3 kids will do kitchen/2 will do syllable review and when the time is up, they flip flop. I hope this makes sense. I, too like fewer kids in each group, so this does cut down on the number of kids as well as the noise in each center. I don't have an assistant anymore, so I use many laminated/manipulatives and less paper for less grading/checking.

    I use the kids pics for the centers and I too move the icons down each day.

    Thanks for your ideas! I love that every day I still learn something (sometimes many things!) new each day!

    Amy :)

    1. Great ideas! I do math groups as well, but at a different time. What do you put in your sand/water table?

    2. I have water from Sept til it gets cooler, and I have fish, (plastic)sharks, etc and boats measuring cups, funnels in it. Then when the room gets a bit cooler, I put the sand w/ counting shells, shovels, the sand spinny things and sometimes thematic stuff if it happens...(bones for dinosaur unit, etc.) That is still a favorite in my class!

      PS Yay!! Thanks for sending me the Center packet! it is incredible!!! Yay! Amy :)

  2. oo I forgot to leave my email. my email is just in case I win your product. I tried to make a blog called "learning myself" and it wasnt a success. So things may go to that blog, but I don't even know where it is anymore!! (sad, I know!) Amy :)

    1. I understand completely! I fall short of the glory all the time on this blog. I blog when I can and hope that someone out there is still reading it! :) Check your email!

  3. Love your rotation ideas. This past year I did math centers and literacy centers together. I had a math group while my assistant was reviewing with a group on literacy activities. The students rotated once during that time. I definitely want to revamp this year somewhat. I love how I did it last year, but time is always a problem where I work (not enough of it some days) and sometimes making sure I am able to see each group can be tricky. I love having small groups for math though, I will continue that this year as well as continue the literacy groups, now I'm deciding how to split it up or keep it together like last year. The students were in groups with animal names but I love how you made them particular colors. Great idea.

    Mrs. Thigpen's Kindergarten

    1. I have considered giving my assistant a group as well, but last year was crazy for me with assistants and inconsistent, so I just haven't gotten there yet!


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