Sunday, August 31, 2014

Setting Up Your Literacy Centers - Part 1 - Center Storage and Workspace

         My first two years of teaching Kindergarten I did not have literacy centers in my classroom. My students practiced reading aloud to me in teacher directed reading groups while the other students in my classroom sat attempted to sit quietly in their seats and worked on seat work. Ladies and gentleman, I have NO idea what I was thinking. Nothing about that setup was a good idea y'all, I just didn't know how to get started and I had SO many other things that were demanding immediate attention at school. The summer after my second year, I finally set aside some time to figure out how I would make literacy centers work in my classroom. As you may know already, I have a TINY TINY TINY - ITTY BITTY BABY sized K classroom. I read book after book. I read blog after blog. I sat drooling over clutter free classrooms with spacious work areas, classroom libraries full of labeled book bins, and tub after tub of organized literacy center materials. Some local teachers were gracious enough to allow me into their classrooms over the summer to see how they set things up. I spent hours investigating and I felt defeated. Y'all, seriously, I need to join an OCD or over thinkers anonymous group. If you see one, let me know ASAP. Finally, I came up with a plan that I thought could work in my classroom, took the plunge, and it has been BLISS ever since. No kidding. This is what worked for me... hope you find it helpful!

Because I have limited space in my classroom, I purchased a toy storage shelving unit from Ikea to store the majority of my current literacy center materials. The tubs are easy for my students to remove and replace. They are also a good size for literacy center materials and I liked the fact that I could purchase a larger bin in case I ever needed it. (Hardly ever use the red bin.) 

      I keep the tubs near the literacy center rotation chart.  This chart tells my students what area of the classroom they will be working in (brown table, yellow table, red table, or carpet), what two centers they will use, and who is responsible for collecting, exchanging, and returning all of the literacy center materials for the day. I use pictures of my students so that every kid can find their way to the work area no problem! Def worth the extra effort. (If the collector is absent, in the restroom, or meeting with the teacher his/ her responsibility falls to crew member #2.)

The attach copies of the icons on my literacy center rotation chart to the coordinating bins so that they are easy for students to find. I made these icons myself, but there are lots of freebies out there with similar icons for you to choose from if you don't want to make your own! (Unfortunately, I made these icons on a different computer that I no longer have access to. Sad day!)  

A few of my centers have supplies that are stored in other areas of my classroom. This is helpful because it prevents too much crowding at the Ikea tubs. 

Yes, I keep my listening center in my home living play center area. I have a baby classroom, remember? It works! I have never had a student who got out the home living materials during literacy centers. NEVER. The key is in introducing the center procedures. (Also, note the file cabinet and my storage closet. I store literacy materials that aren't in the current center rotation in both of these areas.) 

(I have a big book browser, but unfortunately it is nestled behind my horseshoe table - where I teach during centers. I store about 5 big books for use in literacy centers in a big box under my easel. Also stores pointers, etc.) 

I just had to share this journal entry that one of my K5ers wrote last year: 

"My Class"
"We learn in my class. Class is fun when you get a work and when you're finished your dream will come true." 

I think we all know what she is trying to say - obviously these literacy centers were a dream come true for this sweet girl!!! 

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