A Minute-By-Minute Walkthrough of Literacy Centers in My K-2 Classroom


Isn’t it fun to get a “peek” into another teacher’s classroom? I love learning new ideas by watching other teachers!

Although I’d love to invite you into my own classroom, this blog post will have to suffice for now. 🙂 In this post, I’m going to do a simple, step-by-step walkthrough of what literacy centers looks like, minute-to-minute, in my classroom.

Keep reading to get the complete picture!In this post, I walk you through, minute-by-minute, my literacy centers block! This example is from Kindergarten, but it would apply to first or second grade also.

Photo Credits: Arlem Shadrin, Shutterstock

For the purpose of this post, I’ve picked 9:20-10:30 as the sample times for my centers block (my kinder centers block really was this long). Technically, the kids are only working in centers for 45 minutes – but you’ll see where those “extra” minutes come into play as you read along.

Sometimes I have to shorten the rotations to 12 minutes, or stick to 2 rotations. Personally, I prefer quality over quantity! (You might be able to get your kids to clean up quicker too, depending upon what age group you teach and how many materials they have out.)

Okay, here we go!

9:20 – 

It’s centers time! I have the kids grab their individual book bags and independent work folders.

They then come back to the rug.


I introduce/review an activity that will be added to centers. It’s always an activity that they have practiced before, either in whole group or small group!

I only introduce ONE thing per day, for ONE center. Read more about that HERE.


I pull up the centers rotation chart so kids see where they’re going (you can make your own if you have my literacy centers bundles):

I announce which kids are coming to me (I’m not a center—I pull kids from different groups, usually 2-3 different groups). Read more about my grouping strategy HERE.

I dismiss the kids, group by group, to their centers. I go to the guided reading table.


I set my timer for 15 minutes. I teach a guided reading group, and the kids are in their centers.

Even though they haven’t chosen which center they will visit, they DO get to choose what they do in that center. Read more about that HERE.


The timer goes off. Round 1 is over! As I’m finishing up with my guided reading group, the other kids start cleaning up.

I set the timer again for 3 minutes.


The kids (in an ideal situation ;-)) are all cleaned up. They are sitting in their centers, one finger over their lips, another finger pointing to where their group will go next.

I announce who will be coming to me.

When I give the signal, they rotate!

I set my timer again for 15 minutes.


Timer goes off. Round 2 is over! I set the timer again for a 3-minute cleanup.


Timer goes off again! We rotate! I set the timer for 15 minutes.


Centers are over! My kids clean up and bring 1 item to share during sharing time.


We have sharing time. The kids get to share with a partner (something they made, wrote, or read during centers). I have 1-2 kids share out with the whole class.


Centers are done! Time to move onto something new.


If you’ve ever seen one of my sample daily schedules, you’ll notice that my literacy centers block isn’t usually THIS long (9:20-10:30).

This particular schedule is an ideal situation, but I know that you might not have as much time. Some years I just don’t have that long!

If you have less time, I would recommend eliminating one of your rounds, or keeping the rounds to 12 minutes, with 3 minutes for clean-up time.

You also might be able to get your kids to clean up faster than 3 minutes—this example was from my kindergarten classroom, and we were a liiiiitle slow to clean up. 🙂

I’m sure you’ll have to tweak this to meet your own needs, but I hope it was still helpful!

Two final things:

  1. My literacy center bundles are ready and can be found HERE!
  2. If you’re looking for an in-depth description of each of the centers my kids visit, click HERE!

Happy teaching!


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Dora Beckett
6 years ago

Trying the centre rotations next week. I have a Grade 1/2 split class ( 12 grade Two’s and only 6 Grad One’s). Two of my grade One students are weak and Grade Two students varies as well.
Which bundle would you recommend I get?

Thanks for your help!

6 years ago


How often do you meet with each of your groups during the week? For example, do you meet with your lows on a daily basis and your highest only once or twice? Trying to determine how I could meet with only 3 groups a day and hoping to wrap my head around it. My teaching partner and I are wanting to shorten up our rotation time, but are coming from a team where each group is met with every day.

Thank you for all of this valuable information! It id definitely helping us to restructure.

Elisa Montalvo
5 years ago

If your guided reading is not part of rotations, how do you know/or make sure that all your students visit all centers?

4 years ago

Hi Alison,

I do have a question about how these literacy groups work and my understanding of it. If you are pulling kids for guided reading then that means they are missing out on a particular centre. How do you manage the fact that some kids won’t have done that particular centre?


4 years ago

Hi Alison, I purchased the literacy center bundle for first grade. I wanted to know if I can get more information about how you launch the centers and the foundational lessons. Can you give me an example of how your launch schedule for the first weeks of the year? How many weeks does it take you launch all the centers?
Thank you.

2 years ago

Hello there. Your site is wonderful, especially, for me being a new teacher! However, I would love if there was more regarding VIRTUAL Learning. For example, how to run centres in the virtual classroom. Thank you!

Reply to  Anne

Thanks for this suggestion, Anne!

1 year ago

This is super helpful. Thank you.

Reply to  Natasha

You’re so welcome!


I’m Alison, a literacy specialist. I love getting kids excited about reading and writing – and sharing teaching ideas with other teachers!

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