We often get asked, how do your manage centers? Managing centers is not an easy thing to do, for sure and so the topic comes up a lot. There are so many ways, pocket charts, free choice, etc, but we use a centers wheel. efficiency
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Not going to lie, when I first became a teacher I struggled with centers. You mean, you want me to do 5-6 different activities all at the same time and have the students all be engaged during it?! I pretty much told my literacy coach she was crazy!
But as I started to have centers in my class, I realized I really enjoyed center time. It gave me a chance to really customize what the students were working on and it gave me time to work with students in small groups. Now, I prefer center time!
Truth be told, I moved schools a lot, I always had super small classrooms, and I never had space for my centers to have designated spaces (well besides my library and maybe a writing center).
So how do I manage centers? We use a centers wheel!
This wheel was the hub of our centers for the week. Here’s all the details:
We have five centers per week. Not always the same five but five rotations.
Students are placed in color groups. No rhyme or reason other than who works well together.
Since I did not have designated center space for most centers, we put our centers in bins. During center time those bins go to the tables (or floor spaces) into the same order they are on the chart. (It’s usually the same so it’s not tricky). It’s important for me to be able to have the centers themselves flow in a circle and not have students crisscrossing around my room.
So the color group will go to the designated center and complete the activity in the bucket (or whatever the center is based off of the directions I give).
When it’s time to rotate centers, the wheel spins in a clockwise movement one time.
How did you make your centers wheel? We share full directions here in this article (and a template to actually cut the circle part correctly). The center cards displayed can be found in our Teachers Pay Teachers store here.
How often do you rotate centers? Depending on my class, we do two rotations per center session. So they will start at one center, do that for 20 minutes and then we will rotate one time.
What activities are in your centers? Our centers have one must do activity in the bucket. When they are done with that must do an activity they turn it in (we have a tray) and then they can do any of choice activities associated with that center. So in our alphabet center, they may play an alphabet puzzle or in our writing center they may do some free writing (based on the samples we have hanging).
How often do you change the activities in your centers? We change the items in those buckets every week most weeks but sometimes every other week depending on how many rotations we got through.
Where is your centers wheel in your classroom? We keep our centers wheel on our whiteboard. We actually use magnet buttons (click here to see) because we don’t want the wheel to move freely. So we put one button magnet on the back so it stays where it is supposed to. You don’t need to have it on the whiteboard, but if not you need a plan to have some magnets on it so there is some stability to the wheel. (It will stay but you won’t want someone bumping it or whatever).
The great thing is, that because it’s a systematic and organized process, the students will learn it. Eventually, I show my students how to turn the wheel so I can use that time to reset my table for my next small group. With that comes rules about the centers wheel –
With that comes rules about the centers wheel that we talk about from day one. We basically have one rule, NO ONE TOUCHES THE WHEEL (unless it is your job for the day when the class is ready). It will happen and you will not know what color the wheel is on to fix it. The students can usually help you figure that out though based on what center they were at yesterday.
What happens if there is a sub? This is something you will have to think about and it may change from year to year depending on your students. At the start of the year we do alternative centers but most years mid-year the students have centers down they can handle centers like normal.
The question comes up often in our Teacher Facebook Group, “how do you run your centers?” We use a centers wheel and wanted to share with you how to make a centers wheel so you can use this strategy too.
I finally figured out I needed my students to rotate around the room in a circle for my own sanity. That was the first change I made to my centers, and so it only made sense that my management system had them rotate in a circle too.
I’m not going to lie, it’s a little tricky to make a centers wheel. I made my first one in about an hour or so years ago and I make the one shown here in about 30 minutes. Either way though, the management and organization you will get will be well worth it! We will give you the pieces you need to make it super quick and as easy as can be.
Here’s what you need:
black poster board
white poster board OR a piece of chart paper
5 different color construction papers
a big bowl (mine, the top part was the exact size of a piece of paper, you want it to not be as wide as your posterboard and have some space on the sides)
pocket labels (we used the 3-inch Target ones)
extra white paper (not cardstock)
templates (to make the color sections and the title I used) (click here to download)
Here’s how I made my centers wheel:
1 – Trace your bowl onto the white chart paper or poster board. Cut it out. Mark the center of that circle with a dot (you can’t see in my photo). You can bend and fold the circle if you need to figure this out.
2 – Print the angle pages. These are the perfect angles to make 5 sections, or 5 centers.
3 – Lay the color sections around the circle with the point at the dot. Tape the color paper together.
4 – After the color paper is all taped together, place a small piece of tape under it to stick it to the white circle. Just lift it up and in one part, carefully holding the center to do this. This will help that center point when you cut.
5 – Flip over the circle (make sure it’s taped) and cut it out. We remove the white circle when we are done because we laminate it and two pieces of thick paper are too thick for the laminator.
Now you add things to your poster board.
6 – Add your title.
7 – Center your wheel. You want the same amount of space on the left and right of the wheel. Top to bottom you just want to center it with the title.
8 – Place your pocket chart cards on the poster to make sure they fit.
8 – Cut half inch strips of white paper to make the sections. Put the wheel in the position shown and use those white strips to section off your poster (it’s just the easiest to position it). When you have them where they think they will go, very carefully rotate your wheel around so you can make sure it lines up somewhat correctly.
9 – Glue down those white paper by holding it on one side and lifting the other to tape it. Very carefully poke a hole in the center of the wheel for the brad. These are the same step because it’s like a dance of keeping everything in place while still moving things around.
And there you have it, our centers wheel! It has been a lifesaver in managing centers!
Are you looking for the best Prime Day deals for teachers? Simply Kinder has / will have you covered with all the details and deals!
This article (and most) on Simply Kinder does contain affiliate links that we do earn a commission off of. Clicking these links does not cost you any extra but helps our website to keep great articles and freebies like this coming your way.
What is Prime Day? Prime Day is a day when special deals are only available to Prime Members. If you are not a Prime member, you should be. Especially if you are a teacher!
What are the benefits of being a Prime member? Many items are available next day delivery which makes getting those things you need so convenient. You also get access to their video and music library which has some great shows for school! They also have lightning deals all year that are great savings for everything from your house to your classroom! It’s really a great little membership program.
How do I become a Prime member?Click here to sign up. You can do the 30-day free trial to get started!
And we have some tips for you too!
Prime Day deals are fast, and items will run out quick. If you see something you like, DON’T WAIT. Put it in your cart and check out fast.
Shop by UPCOMING DEALS. Go to this Amazon Prime Ad Page and on the left-hand column there are some checkboxes that say Availability – upcoming, missed, and active. Sort by upcoming to be able to see those deals coming soon. ‘
Add items to your watchlist and wishlist.
Use the app, and turn your notifications on.
Watch the deals leading up to Prime Day. (Keep reading and we will update the deals as we see them).
That being said, here are some deals we are currently seeing, and some items we are keeping an eye out for!
DEALS WE ARE SEEING CURRENTLY (UPDATED JULY 13th @10AM):
We all have a huge wish list of items that we could use in our classrooms right? This year, put out some free helping hands for meet the teacher night to help you get some of those much needed items for the school year.
There are so many parents out there that are more than happy to help donate items for your classroom, they just don’t know what you really need. By putting these helping hands out its allows you to really get the items specially need for your room.
I simply made an anchor chart and wrote can you lend a helping hand. Download, print and cut out the hands of the items that you would like to ask for and tape them to your anchor chart. They parents can easily remove the item or items of their choice to take home with them to remember to purchase the item.
Make sure to also grab the free back to school parent pack. It’s perfect to give out during meet the teacher with so much valuable information included for the parents.
You can download the free helping hands for meet the teacher below.
What are your most needed items that you would like to have donated to your classroom?
Hands-on number sentences can be a ton of fun, especially when you let the kiddos add up some of their favorite things. We’ve been learning about number sentences and using dinosaurs, spiders, and snakes to do it. The kids can’t get enough of number sentences when they get to pick their own manipulatives.
With a few simple supplies, your students will want to work on number sentences all day long! We’ve been using small dinos, snakes, and spiders but you can find almost any tiny manipulative that your students will enjoy. Usually, you can find several options at the dollar store. If nothing else, counting bears, blocks of 10, or even dried beans will do the trick.
10 Manipulatives Per Student (Small dinos, insects, bears, beans, blocks of ten, etc.)
Grab the Number Sentence Free Printable to get started. Printing this on card stock will help it to last longer. Laminate it or stick it in a sheet protector so that the students can use dry-erase markers and write on it over and over again.
We use this activity as one of the first to introduce number sentences. It helps the students to see that addition is putting two groups together.
The students will put a certain number of manipulatives in the first circle and write the number of manipulatives on the line under the circle. They do the same for the second circle. Then the students combine both groups of manipulatives in the larger, third circle. They count how many are in the larger circle and write that number on the line beneath it.
After we work on this together, it always turns into a favorite center for them. Some students will even want to raid their toy boxes at home to find more fun manipulatives for number sentences! The possibilities are endless! This activity really brings number sentences alive for the students.
Whether you are learning about America for your social studies content or if you are working on a specific holiday, learning about our country is loads of fun! Here is your list of America videos for kids (teacher-approved, of course!
America to Me | Patriotic Song for Kids | Song for America | Jack Hartmann - YouTube
America to Me by Jack Hartman (4:14)
Celebrate all the fun things about America with this fun tune from Jack! “This is America to meeee.” I can totally see our students singing these songs and creating their own reasons why they love America!
America the Beautiful Song for Kids | American Patriotic Music for Children | The Kiboomers - YouTube
America the Beautiful from Kidboomers (2:29)
A very somber rendition of the song.
And if you are teaching about America, you will love our America Crafts! Click here ot check them out!
The Statue of Liberty for Kids: Famous World Landmarks for Children - FreeSchool - YouTube
The Statue of Liberty by Free School (4:41)
This is a very informational video about the Statue of Liberty. It may be a little slow for our age range, but it is loaded with information if you are actually looking to teach about it. Lots of really neat facts about it in this video!
Songs of America - The Star-Spangled Banner [with lyrics] - YouTube
The Star-Spangled Banner (1:35)
I love this one because it shows students outside a school around the flagpole throughout!
Star Spangled Banner Song for Kids | National Anthem | The Kiboomers - YouTube
The Star-Spangled Banner by Kidboomers (1:26)
This channel is PERFECT for the kids to sing to. They always seem to be a little slower paced so the kids can keep up.
BALD EAGLE: Animals for children. Kids videos. Kindergarten | Preschool learning - YouTube
Bald Eagle for Kids by All Things Animals (3:11)
This video is loaded with information about Bald Eagles. The last minute or so of the video has the eagle catching a fish. It’s really interesting (not too close of a video) but you may want to preview it.
Washington DC for Kids DVD - National Parks - YouTube
Washington DC for Kids (2:53)
This is a little dated but it has the kids asking questions of the narrator. The questions are things your students may ask so it is still a good video!
Get kids moving with apple art musical shakers made from paper plates! September marks the beginning of school for kids, and for those entering kindergarten, it may be the first time they’ve spent time in a classroom. Apple crafts are a fun way to incorporate back to school, autumn, harvest, and seed growing into your learning units. I’m sharing a cute apple craft made from paper plates that will get kids moving! This project mixes both art and music making it perfect for fall centers and circle time.
I love to create art with kids because it gives them the freedom to express themselves, and to get a little messy. Cover a desk with paper or place these paper plates with paint at an art table for festive fall fun. We used red and green paint for our apples, but yellow would make a great addition too. Pair this with more apple themed activities for a complete fall unit.
Supplies for One Apple Art Project
The supplies for this craft are simple. We had some unused party plates and faced the decorative side in so you’d never know they were a bright blue! As long as the underside of the plate is white, it can be painted to resemble an apple.
Two Small Paper Plates
Green or Red Paint
Green Construction Paper Cut into Leaf Shapes
Dry Beans or Dry Pasta (macaroni, or another smaller sized pasta works best)
Stapler and Staples
Paint the bottoms of the paper plates green or red. Let dry.
Use a stapler to attach the plates together, painted side out to make your apple. Leave 3″ open at the top.
Use a spoon to add about 1 tablespoon of dry beans or pasta into the apple.
Glue a leaf to the top of the apple.
Shake, shake, shake to music!
Ideas for the Classroom
Make these musical apple-themed shakers during centers for apple week! The apples need to be painted and dried which makes this a great multi-day activity.
When filling the apples with beans or pasta kids can work their motor skill by scooping beans or pasta from a bin using a spoon. Then a teacher can staple the apples closed.
During music time, get students dancing with their apple shakers. They can shake them or beat them like a tambourine.
If you’re hosting a fall open house multi-colored apples look festive when clipped along a string in the classroom. Kids love bringing home their apple shakers after their families visit their class!
Have you seen these Lakeshore Alphabet Learning Locks before? Our kids are LOVING them! So today we’re sharing our alphabet lock center and a free printable to go along with them!
This article (and most) on Simply Kinder does contain affiliate links. Clicking these links does not cost you any extra but helps our website to keep great articles and freebies like this coming your way. Click here to see the Alphabet Locks on Amazon.
The set comes with 26 locks and 26 keys to open each one of the locks. On each lock, there is a letter on one side and a picture with the beginning sound on the other side.
The learning locks help kids recognize uppercase & lowercase letters and explore letter sounds. The students simply choose a key and match it to the letter or picture on the lock–when they make a successful match, the key will turn and the lock will open for instant reinforcement!
We’ve created two different printables to go along with the centers to keep the students accountable for their center time.
Alphabet Locks Writing
Have the students choose a lock and find the matching key. They will then find the matching lock on the printable and practice writing in the letter.
Alphabet Locks Match
Have the students choose a lock and find the key that opens the lock. Next, have them record the letter on the lock and the key on the printable.
These locks are made well and have been holding up to a lot of play time! The keys come with a hole in them, so you can easily keep them all together by putting them on a key ring when storing them so nothing gets lost.
A few tips from our teachers:
don’t allow the students to lock them together
these are prefect for independent centers
store them in a bin with the key and locks together (to help not lose any keys)
keep the keys in a pencil bag (another idea)
pair them with an alphabet poster to lay the completed locks on it
We’ve covered all of our CVC words now, so I’m sharing the last set of the free printable CVC puzzles with you today, short u.
If you missed the other free printable CVC puzzles I’ve shared over the last few months, you can find the short a puzzles here, the short e puzzles here, the short i puzzles here, and the short o puzzles here.
These puzzles are a fun way for the students to review and practice their short u words. You can use them for your early/fast finishers or as a literacy center. I’ve included 2 of each of the following word families
-ub, -ud, -ug, -um, -un, -up and -ut
Download, print and cut the puzzles pieces. Laminating is suggested if you plan to use them over and over again with the students. To play, lay out all of the puzzle pieces and mix them all up on the table. Have the student choose one of the puzzle pieces.
They will then try to find the word or picture that matches the piece they chose.
You can start with just a few of the word families, and continue to add more puzzle pieces as the students learn more and now that I’ve shared all of the CVC word families, you can really differentiate for the students by adding additional word families to make it more difficult for them.
To store the free printable CVC short u puzzles, they fit perfectly in small photo boxes from Michael’s, or even just in a sandwich baggie.
Relationships are the most important thing in a classroom. I truly believe that we cannot do our job as a teacher if we don’t take the time to build relationships with our students first. This is something that I strive to do better each year.
This past year, I spent time getting to know each student at Meet the Teacher, as I always do, but I followed up with each individual family after our meeting and mentioned some of their child’s favorite things. This is something that was simple to do and helped start that relationship off on the right foot.
As many teachers do, I also send home positive notes. I always want to make sure my first communication with families is a positive one because it makes the tricky days much easier, not to mention, it helps build the right kind of relationship! Therefore, I spent more time this past year trying to making phone calls. I feel like phone calls are a lost form of communication with teachers nowadays. It is far easier to send an e-mail, write a quick note, or even send a text. A phone call can be quick and is so much more personable.
I have been thinking about ways to build relationships with my kids this upcoming year. What can I do to make those relationships even stronger?
I know that most of what I do takes place at school. It is all on my “turf” and on my time, in a way. I want to meet kids where they are. Physically, go to where they are. Therefore, I am going to send home an invite at the beginning of the year. Kids can fill it out and send it back. I can go to their house (I know some families would not necessarily like this, so it is just an option), soccer games, birthday parties, dance recitals, etc.