Centers are a great way to help review content with students. They are fun and simple activities that your students can do independently or as a group. However, all those little pieces can be a pain to contain! Over the years, I have found the perfect system for organizing centers. These simple and inexpensive tools will help make your center time so much easier!
Once upon a time, I was using file folders and manila envelopes to organize all my centers. While this was fine, they didn’t stack very nicely and pieces would get shoved in corners or fall out of the folders. On top of all of that, folders and manila envelopes do not stand the test of time. Therefore, I was having to switch out my folders more often than I wanted to.
Boxes of All Shapes and Sizes
When I realized my old way of organizing centers wasn’t going to work, I decided to change it up! To start with, I have boxes of all shapes and sizes! I have iris boxes for the games that can fit into the smaller boxes. Then, I have larger boxes for the center activities that don’t fit into the iris boxes. Finally, I have very thin boxes that are great for center activities that don’t require many “game pieces” or bulky supplies. Having all of my center activities in boxes has helped me stay organized. Plus, because all of the boxes are see-through, I can tell what I need to add to the box to make organizing centers way easier. If you want to see the boxes I use, check out my YouTube video on organizing centers and classroom supplies.
Organizing Centers with Mesh Zipper Pouches
After organizing centers with boxes worked so well, I found another great resource. My mesh zipper pouches are great for center activities that students can take home with them. Because of the pandemic, some students need a little bit more help to get caught up. Sending home a center activity is much easier when it’s in a mesh zipper pouch. These pouches zip up (obviously) so the pieces are less likely to get lost. Plus, they are the perfect size for a backpack.
Use Your Storage Drawers
While putting all of my center worksheets and game pieces into boxes and zipper pouches is nice, other supplies are often needed. So, to make sure my students know exactly where to find these things like scissors, glue, or other paper, I have my storage drawers. Some of the storage drawers are used for organizing centers. Other storage drawers are for me. I can put the worksheets or activities for the next week or two in them so everything is at my fingertips.
This is the most important piece to organizing your centers. Once you have your centers all organized into boxes or zipper pouches you need to label them! When you label your center boxes, mesh folders, and your storage drawers, you and your students know exactly where to find what you need. On the storage drawers or on anything your students might need to get independently, I would include a picture along with the word. This visual will help them know where to find what they need while making a word and picture association which is always a bonus.
Centers are a great tool to use in your classroom. If you haven’t tried them out yet, you can check out center activities in my store. There, you can find literacy centers and math centers or you can bundle them! However, if you don’t have an organizational system that works for you, they can become a nightmare pretty quick. While I love all my storage boxes, they aren’t for everyone. Find an organizing system that works for you and stick with it!