Center Management 

How I Run Centers:

Grouping I generally have 20-25 children in my class. I divide the class into 5 groups of 4-5 students in each group. I group the kids based on ability so that I can provide differentiated activities for the groups.
Time We have centers for 1 hour near the end of the day. Students spend approximately 20 minutes doing an assigned activity and the remaining 40 minutes doing choice activities (including snack).
Planning Each week I plan 4 theme-related center activities. Many of these are based on our shared reading selection for the week. Sometimes I will include a seasonal or holiday activity. Most of these activities are available on my Monthly Centers pages. I usually have an art activity, an ABC center activity (letters, phonics, sight words), a writing activity, and a math activity (usually a variation of our Investigations math). Each center activity is stored in a bin that we place on the tables at center time (I bought the bins at Big Lots):


I also plan an activity for when I meet with each group. Some groups do the same activity while others do extension or re-teach activities. Many of these activities are available on my Games to Make page.

Bucket Centers Rotation Each group does one of the above activities each day. I rotate the groups through the activities on the charts below:

At the top of each of these charts is a center icon that matches the icons on the center buckets (writing, math, teacher, ABC, and art). Next to that is a group card with children's names and a storybook character (my groups are named after these characters).

*Download the Center Icons and Group Cards (laminate and attach Velcro before use)

Line Callout 2: Assigned center activity for the day
Line Callout 2: Group card (list of children in the group)

The group cards are attached with Velcro so that I can easily switch the cards to a new chart each day:

Choice Centers

When children have finished their assigned bucket center (above) they may choose from the choice centers listed on their chart. They may only go to the centers on their chart. Children place a plastic circle with their name on it next to the center of their choice ( I use Counting Chips with Velcro on the back):

For example, the children on this chart are responsible for completing the ABC bucket center. When they are finished they can choose from the Math Center, Read the Room/Big books, Marker Board, Writing Center, or Bucket Blocks. The number of Velcro pieces next to each picture indicates the number of children who can go to that center. Since there are only 4-5 children in a group, there are always several options for students to choose from. Some centers that can accommodate more children are on several different charts (Writing, Math, Science, ABC). This system also ensures that all children get a chance to go to all centers that they would like to choose (the same children can't play at blocks every day since it is only on 1 or 2 charts). Also, I have placed the charts in different locations around the room to keep children from crowding one area.

Line Callout 2: Marker Board
(2 children)
Line Callout 2: Math Center 
(3 children)
Line Callout 2: Bucket Blocks 
(2 children)
Line Callout 2: Big Books 
(2 children)
Line Callout 2: Writing Center
(2 children)


Search for other center or management ideas:


Return to