How-To Manage Center Rotations with Efficiency and Ease

Do you like the idea of centers, but dread the set-up, management, and teaching each week?  

Center Rotations for Classroom Management

If you are continually changing the activities in a center each week, this involves more teaching and management on your part. Having the same style of center with the outcome being different each week, keeps the consistency.  

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Spend Less Time Managing Centers

When your centers are predictable, you will spend less time teaching and managing the centers. This leaves more time for you, the teacher, to work with a group. The idea is to use the same types of centers but change the skills.

Center Management

Center management can be a nightmare if you don't have a plan. For years now, I have been using a center rotation schedule that works for me and my students.  It is based on the books Literacy Work Stations-Making Centers Work and Math Work Station You Can Count On, K-2 by Debbie Diller

I'll be honest I don't have time in my day to do a literacy rotation and a math rotation for centers. So, I combine them.  I have some literacy and some math centers going on at the same time.  You need to do what works for you.

I typically have a total of 12 centers running at one time.  You might think oh, no I can't do that, there is far too much prep for this.  However, that is not the case.  Once you have your stations picked out, it is simply a matter of changing out some materials at the end of each rotation.

Center Organization

I keep all of my centers in bins that can be stacked on a shelf. I prefer both options below- Sterilite and Storex On each bin, I hot glue a label that matches the ones from my chart so students can locate the bins quickly.

Teacher Tip: Hot glue pulls off plastic easily when you no longer need the label. 

Center Rotation Management

I pair up my students to be center partners.  I try to pair students who can work together, but who are also close to being at the same reading level.  I would not pair a student who is still learning letter names with someone who is already reading. I find that when you do this, the more advanced student ends up doing all of the work.

I use students' photos for the pocket chart and picture cards depicting each center.  The same cards are also glued to the front of each center box.  I leave the student photos in the same place on the chart and simply move the center cards down after each set of rotations.  This literally takes 30 seconds.

center rotatons for kindergarten
Grab my Center Rotation Cards here on TpT
Center Rotation Cards for center managment

What Type of Centers Should I use?

There are so many great center activities you can implement into your rotations.  Below are some of my favorites. In the past, I have had duplicate stations of technology, and more than one center for sight words, and word work.

  • Listening Center: Just change out the book (Freebie at end of post)
  • Sight Words- play-dough, letter beads, sight word booklets
  • Technology: iPads or Chromebooks
  • Phonics: magnetic letters, pop-its
  • Writing: writing prompts or free write
  • Library: class library to browse books
  • Word Work:  build words, work with letter manipulatives 
  • Stamping: letter, sight words, numbers
  • Roll and Cover Games: For math and Literacy
  • Fine Motor: tweezer, q-tip, connecting blocks activities, play-doh
  • Sensory Bin: math and literacy activities
  • Spin and Cover: math, literacy
Below are just some of my favorite center stations to use.
Alphabet Play Dough Mats for centersPop It Phoneme Graphing Activities for Science of Reading 
Sensory Bin Activities for KindergartenSight Word Activity books
Math and Literacy Spin and Match Centers Sight Word Letter Bead Activities using Lakeshore Learning beads 
Word Mapping Resources for Science of Reading Literacy and Math Centers for individuals or pairs
Pocket Chart CVC Word ActivitiesClip It Math and Literacy Activities for Kindergarten
Magnetic Sight Word Letter ActivitiesFun Dice Games for Centers
Non-Fiction Writing Prompts for Beginning WritersAlphabet Sight Word Books for beginning readers
Roll and Cover Math Games for CentersFine Motor Activities for Preschool and Kindergarten

Grab this FREEBIE to start your Listening Centers
Listening Center Response Sheets
It's not too late to implement these center strategies.  Go ahead what are you waiting for? Your kids will love this method and you will too.

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The best to run centers efficiently and effectively

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