I LOVE centers! I think they are a great way for kids to learn academic and social skills while also having fun. I do not love organizing centers. I really do not like finding center pieces around the classroom and not knowing where they go.
Despite talks with students and modeling center expectations, center pieces will get lost! They are kids. They are busy learning. They will make mistakes and pieces will get lost.
That is okay!!!! Here is how I set up my center organization to be easy on teachers but effective in the classroom.
I print out and laminate many centers for all parts of my day. I like to make multiple versions of each center so that different students can work on it at the same time. In my class students can complete centers at a table, laying on the ground, in a pocket chart, under a table... I don't like to limit them too much which can mean more scattered center pieces.
COLOR CODING CENTER PIECES IS THE SECRET!
After I print my pages but before I laminate them I color code the centers. This takes approximately 2 seconds. I grab the closest coloring implement (crayon, pen, pencil, highlighter, whatever was left by the copy machine) and scribble on the back of my centers. Each set of a center is one color. The scribbles aren't beautiful, they just need to have a little bit of the color on the back of each piece. I then laminate, cut out the pieces, and put the center in my classroom!
Now when I find that random piece on the floor I simply need to flip it over and see what color it has. I then find the container with the rest of the pieces and reunite them! This is so simple that students can take ownership. It can even be a classroom job.
I had tried numbering the back of my pieces before but that takes more time and if a student is not fluent with number recognition they cannot take the same ownership in the problem solving process as they can with color coding.
It also works well to print different copies on different colors of cardstock. However, this can make the copying process more difficult, and let's be real sometimes you don't have colored cardstock available.
Enter your info below to get a FREE center! Try out the color coding and let me know if it works!
Check out some other center options on TPT and read about sight word centers, a post card writing center, and a letter matching center.
Miriam taught kindergarten and first grade for 5+ years in New Orleans.