Implementing Literacy Centers in 1st Grade can be quite daunting. It takes years of practice to come up with systems that work.
Education to the Core polled the Fearless First Grade Teacher Group on their very best center hacks to share!
First, I’d like to share my top center hacks!
- Keep your centers consistent. Change the skill, but keep centers in the same area throughout the year.
- Use an accountability sheet for every center. This keeps your students busy, and also lets you know who is getting their work done, and if there are any misconceptions with the skill.
- Use a center rotation wheel. This keeps you from having to move cards, and provides a wonderful visual for your students.
- Put your silent/partner reading center close to your small group table. This way, you can monitor your firsties, especially at the beginning of the year.
- Plan your centers for the week! Be sure to write down which group is doing what for each center. I’d love to share my Literacy Centers Planning Template with you! See below for more information!
Need some FREE Literacy Planning Templates? Download these for FREE today!
Now here are some tips from our Fearless First Grade experts!
“Routines! They have to know what you expect during working time, during clean up, during transitions. They only run smoothly if you’ve set them up for success.” -Jenelle G.
“Slowly implementing and building stamina…” -Aandrea B.
“Picture directions with step numbers at every center, no matter how obvious it seems! 😊” -Jillian A.
“Having a transition song to help them clean-up quickly and quietly.” -Sierra S.
“If a center contains dice, put each die in a small, plastic container that kids can see through. That way the dice doesn’t fall onto the floor every 30 seconds.” -Jennifer B.
“Set a timer. When it goes off, set the expectation of hands on top of your head and voices off. That way they stop working and listen for the directions, clean up, transition, and on to the next center.” -Alyssa K.
“Procedures, procedures, practice groups until they have built up enough stamina that you can lead your teacher table without interruption. Hand signals for bathroom breaks. Group leaders that can help other groups if they are stuck.” -Mary J.
“I use mini recorders to record the directions for assignments. It eliminates being interrupted because a student didn’t know what to do.” -Natalie C.
“Introduce one at a time! Practice until ready to introduce another one. Consistently is key! Keep it as repetitive as possible!” -Sam K.
“If it’s not working don’t be afraid to have them clean up and then talk about what went wrong and what they need to do better. Have them practice until they meet your expectations.” -Ciara R.
“Choose 1 student that you trust to be your center expert. They maintain quiet in your room, answer any questions so students don’t interrupt you, get to choose the best working group to move their color up, ask students to write the center rules that we came up with together if they are constantly not following one of the rules, and set up/put away the buckets when we are done with all rotations. I don’t have it as one of my classroom jobs because it is a special job and only goes to the students that I trust. They can also be the center expert more than once, if they do a really good job. Plus, they get to wear a cool hat that says “Center Expert”.” -Lidia H.
“Use a PowerPoint to map out the weekly rotations. Each slide is a rotation and you can easily go to the next when it’s time for a new center. I use my students’ pictures on the slides so it’s easy for them to see where to go and I can move the groups around if needed. It also takes up zero wall/bulletin board space.” -Calli C.
“Let them choose where they would like to go! Takes the scheduling off of your hands and allows for the students to have some say in what they are doing and how they are learning.” -Leigh G.
“I give my kiddos numbered index cards ….centers are numbered. I punch or mark off the centers as the finish them. No center rotation chart. I pull my group as I need to. It may be more often than they would get in a rotation schedule.” -Sherry P.
“When you start doing centers less is more. Start with just a few centers and build from there. Introduce them one at a time and work through them together before putting them out for independent practice. You only need to change the skill but can keep the basics of the center the same.” -Sharon T.
“I have 5 stations, each group works on 1 a day, they rotate each day instead of every 15 minutes.” -L.M.D.
“I put my students’ laminated rotation schedule for each day in a folder and then each day one of the students in the group is the Group Leader. The Group Leader is in charge of keeping everyone in their group on task the entire time, directing the group where to go when it’s time for the next station, and verifying that the station is cleaned up responsibly at the end. Once students have been taught and practiced it, I basically don’t have to do any management during centers whatsoever!! The group folders are so incredibly helpful.” -Leah S.
“I have 6 rotations. I updated groups about 1x a quarter. Rotations are set for 15 minutes. I use a timer to monitor when. They need to change. I have a large chart that shows the schedule. I don’t do small groups at a table but a towel. My small group table is a standing station. Students rotation group are taped cards color coded to their desks. Each station is an independent activity. Since it’s my 1st time in 1st grade I make alot of my stuff from scratch using ideas from TPT.” -Katina F.
There you have it! I hope these tips came at the perfect time! For more great tips and tricks from our 1st Grade experts, be sure to join our Fearless First Grade Facebook Group today!
BUT…I need a comprehensive set of centers…
Can you help me?
Absolutely! If you would like ready to print centers for the year, and you are a 1st and/or 2nd grade teacher, you are in luck! We did just that! We have created centers with the tools to get you organized and your reading block in order! We know you are going to love not having to think of what activities your students are going to do each week.
Some of the features of this bundle are:
- Student-Friendly Directions for Every Center
- Hands-On and Engaging Activities
- Recording/ Accountability Sheets for Every Center
- Flexible and non-seasonal centers to supplement your current curriculum
- Cohesive resource with a variety of centers to last you an entire year.
- Consistent centers so you have minimal redirection.
- Organization tools like cover sheets and labels
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