As you pack up your classroom, it’s a great time to get organized for the new school year. This blog focuses on one dilemma of classroom organization: how to store centers.
Centers take some time to make, but once assembled, self-contained centers are valuable learning tools for years to come! You may be able to enlist willing parents and students to help you make the centers—and then use some of these tips to store and organize your centers:
Folder centers are the easiest to store in a crate or box with hanging files or magazine holders. Use folders with inside pockets, small envelopes or self-closing plastic bags (for storing task cards), and of course, laminating equipment. It’s helpful to attach a cover sheet on the front of the folder for quick reference. Here’s a sample folder center from Take It to Your Seat Centers: Common Core Math, grade 5.
Shoebox centers are easily stackable on a shelf or table in the classroom. Students can simply take the portable center to their desk. Plastic boxes with a cover also work well and ensure that boxes are the same size. Create simple labels by using sturdy cardstock attached with double-sided tape.
Hanger pocket centers can be easily stored on hooks anywhere in the classroom, and students can hang the center on the edge of their desk or the back of a chair while working on the task. Use a hanger and butcher paper or a brown paper bag to create these centers. Here’s a sample and directions for creating a hanger pocket center for grades 1–3.
Bag centers: Ziploc bags, canvas totes, or gift bags
- Large Ziploc bags are useful for organizing center directions and pieces, and can be stored in plastic bins without taking up too much space. This is ideal when you’re low on storage and if you frequently rotate center stations.
- Canvas tote bags make sturdy center organizers and can be stored in a tub or crate or hung from hooks in the classroom. Even better, students can help you label (and decorate) the bags!
- Another alternative is gift bags with handles, which you can purchase in different colors to help you coordinate centers by topics.
Here’s a sample center from Take It to Your Seat Centers: Common Core Language, grade 3. Each bag could be labeled with a center skill, such as parts of speech, subject-verb agreement, root words, etc.
Center ideas: Take It to Your Seat and Phonics Intervention series
Everything you need to create quality centers is included in each title. Check out these teacher favorites:
Theresa Wooler has more than 10 years’ experience in K–6 classrooms as a parent volunteer and homeschool educator, has taught high school English, and is currently involved in education through Evan-Moor’s marketing communications team.