I set up my math centers in the same way each week. Math center organization can be overwhelming if you don’t have a plan. Since I started using math centers in my classroom four years ago, I have tried a lot of different ways to set it up and make it run smoothly. The way below is the best way I have found.
Step 1: Choose how long your math centers will last.
I have tried setting up math centers on a weekly basis, a monthly basis, a biweekly basis, and on a daily basis. The way that causes me the least amount of stress is on a biweekly basis. When I did them daily, I felt like I had to explain new things each day and I took too much time going over directions. On a weekly basis, I was constantly changing out my math centers every weekend. On a monthly basis, I would run out of centers for kids to do or have to prepare 40-50 centers to last the whole month. It was too overwhelming.
On a biweekly basis, I change my centers every two weeks. I only have to worry about changing out all of the math center boxes every two weeks and it gives me a break every other week. By the time two weeks have passed, I am excited about new math centers and so are my kids. It’s the perfect amount of time for each rotation to last in my classroom.
Step 2: Write down all of your math centers.
I keep a list of what math centers I’m going to put out each time I change my rotations. I write my centers down in my plan book so I can’t lose the list either! I decide which stations are going to be my Teacher Choice Centers and which are going to be my Free Choice Centers. To learn more about Teacher Choice vs. Free Choice, click here.
Step 3: Put Out All of Your Centers
My Free Choice Centers are always Centers 1-10. I store them in a ten-drawer cart I got from Amazon. It’s easy to load and unload each time I need to change the centers. It’s also easy for my students to identify and put back things appropriately.
Students know which centers they want to go to during their Free Choice station by looking at their choice chart! My students are given a blank choice chart each time we start a new round of centers every two weeks. I tell them what is in each drawer of their Free Choice Stations and they write it down on their Choice Chart. Having them write it down ensures that they are paying attention while I am explaining the centers. It also helps with math center organization because the kids know my clear expectations. The box at the bottom shows the kids how many dojos they can earn by completing each center too! Each center is worth a certain amount of dojo points to encourage students to complete their centers and challenge themselves to be the best mathematicians they can be! You can find a FREE copy of my Math Choice Charts on TeachersPayTeachers HERE!
All of my Teacher Choice centers are put into Sterilite bins. These are the centers that I choose for my kids to complete each day.
Step 4: Decide Which Centers Your Students Complete
I use all of the items below to help me stay focused and keep my math centers organized.
I use three items when I’m deciding which centers each child will go to. Each day, I pull out my list of all my math centers (shown below),
A blank sheet of paper with all my students’ names on it (shown below). I use this to keep track of which centers my kids have been to every day. Every day, I write down the Teacher Choice Center I choose for each of my students. That way, I know which centers each kid has been to and where I still need to send them within each two week period. It’s a great way to track each kid’s progress. I don’t keep up with which Free Choice centers they have been to on their choice chart. Just the Teacher Choice centers.
and a whiteboard that I write their centers on daily (shown below). I put the whiteboard under my document camera and project it on the Smartboard so they can quickly write down their centers without me having to call out which centers each child will go to each day. You can see in the picture below that where it says “me” is when each student will come to the back table to work with me, the number shows which Teacher Choice center they were assigned, and the blank spot is when they get to choose which Free Choice center they’d like to do that day.
I hope this helped you learn more about math center organization! To read more details about how centers run in my classroom, click HERE 🙂
Want to learn MORE about math centers? Check out these blog posts!