One of the biggest things I had to figure out when I first started in kindergarten, was how to prepare and organize math and literacy centers. It’s a big undertaking and it’s a continuous project. I am always adding to my centers, improving them and revamping them. Here is my method for putting together the centers for our kindergarten classroom (this post contains affiliate links).
Step 1. Find the centers that you want to use. You can use Pinterest, Teachers pay Teachers or make your own. I like to focus on one strain at a time, if you cast the net too wide, you will quickly get overwhelmed. At the beginning of the school year we focus on number sense and phonics. So that’s what I have been working on getting ready. I like to create my own resources, and I upload them to my Teachers pay Teachers store.
Step 2. Print out your centers. Some centers are in color, some are in black & white. Decide what you want to use:
–>if you print in black & white you can use colored paper to make your centers really pop (Astobrights paper is a great option!)
–> do you want to use cardstock to make you centers stay flat? I like to use cardstock for items that are going to be full page, and students need to use flat (work mats, play dough mats).
If you are planning to print your centers from home, you should think about getting HP Instant Ink. It’s a great program that you pay for monthly, you can choose how many pages you want to use per month, and they automatically send you ink cartridges when your printer is running low. You can get free months when you start your membership by entering:
–> 6freeink (6 months free)
–> hwGTd (1 month free for you and 1 for me!)
–> and when you buy a new printer that is compatible with the program, they give you 3 more months for free. I bought the HP Envy 5540 printer and it has worked great for my home printing.
Step 3. Cut out the pieces of your centers. It’s better to cut things out before you laminate in order to save space!
Step 4. Laminate your centers. I used these AmazonBasics laminating pouches and they worked great. They are thick and make it really easy to wipe off whiteboard marker. Laminating your centers has many advantages: they are durable, you can reuse them year after year, you can use different materials on them (like play dough, loose parts, Wikki Stix) and students can use whiteboard markers to write on them. If you don’t want to laminate, you can also use page projectors (like these Dry Erase Pockets).
Step 5. Cut again. If your laminated pieces need to be cut out, you have to do it again. Make sure you leave a space between the paper and the edge of the plastic sheet (this way you make sure it stays sealed) and I like to make sure the edges are curved. I suggest finding a good show to watch on TV and marathon. If you have full sized paper, you won’t need to cut them out.
Step 6. Store your centers. I find it’s best to keep them in large Ziplock bags. That way you can keep all the pages and pieces together, and they are easy to keep in totes or filling cabinets.
Now you are ready to use your new centers. Over the years, your centers will grow and you will have more to choose from! Most of our centers are used throughout the school year, we get a lot of use out of them and following these steps keeps them looking good.
How do you prep your centers? Any tips and tricks?