How to Prep Your Kindergarten Centers: Get new activities and centers ready for your students. Follow these easy steps to prep your centers.
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.
To get more information on how I do kindergarten centers, check out my Ultimate Guide to Kindergarten Centers post. It has everything you would ever need to know.
This post contains affiliate links.
Step 1- Centers
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.
For some ideas on what you can for the beginning of the school year, you can check out these posts:
- Get Centers Ready for Back to School
- Popsicle Stick Letters: A New Literacy Center for Kindergarten
- Letter and Phonics Activities for Kindergarten
- Kindergarten Centers you Need for the Beginning of the School Year
- One-to-One Correspondence Intervention for Kindergarten
Step 2- Print
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 thicker paper for items that are going to be full page and that students need to use flat (work mats, play dough mats, etc).
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 this code:
> hwGTd (1 month free for you and 1 for me!)
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 (they don’t sell that one anymore, but the Envy 6255 is comparable) and it has worked great for my home printing.
Step 3- Cut
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
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
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- Organize
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? Let me know in the comments!
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Love love that insta ink!! I like to use the clear menu protectors for my centers. I also have several games that use a spinner– so instead of the pencil and paperclip, I purchased a few clear spinners that go over the circle. I used to keep some supplies in separate places in my room, but quickly learned it’s best to have everything together in one bin. In the beginning of the year, I typically teach an easy math game with playing cards and I make all the centers the same. Then as they are learning procedures, I add to the centers. I have 12 center bins and only 8 active center activities at a time (because some are on technology or with me). This allows me to have certain partnerships use different bins depending on what skill they need practice with. Debbie Diller helped me a lot with this!
I have seen those clear spinners and they are on my buy list for the new school year! We have about 6 centers going at a time, plus technology centers!
Oooooo, love the tips with links for the printing programs: I’ve been meaning to check those out in more detail. I really like all these great ideas for back to school centers. Just practical, helpful information. Also, your photos are so helpful! Can you tell me more about the Dry Erase Pockets? I often use clear contact paper that I pick up from Dollar Tree to “laminate” our work, but I’m open to new ideas… 🙂
The printing program is amazing! Make sure you use all the codes to get your free months!
The dry erase pockets can be used instead of laminating. You can put a piece of paper in the pocket and students can write on it with dry erase markers and erase when they are done. You can switch out the papers and reuse!
Thanks for sharing your tips! I really need to look into the ink program.