How to Get Organized for Literacy Centers in K-2

Having your literacy center materials organized can save a LOT of time!

As it is, we spend tons of time finding and prepping activities. Keeping those materials organized is a must; otherwise, literacy centers prep turns into a time-consuming scavenger hunt around your classroom! And personally, that’s not my favorite way to spend an afternoon. 😉

So in today’s post, I’m sharing literacy centers organization ideas for your own (teacher) stuff and the kids’ stuff!

In this blog post, I share my organization tips for literacy centers in Kindergarten, first grade, and second grade!

Organizing Your Own Stuff

In the past, my own biggest problem has been that I forget what materials and options I have for literacy centers.

I might come up with a great idea one year…and then entirely forget it the next. Oops! (Hey, we all have a lot on our minds, right?!)

My solution to this was to create a running list of materials and ideas for each center.

That way, when it’s time to plan centers, I can look at the list, determine what would best match what we’re working on, and choose centers quickly.

Here are two examples from my K-2 literacy centers resources. These examples list the lesson plans I have for introducing the centers (top), as well as the different centers activities I have (bottom):

So I don’t forget what center activities I’ve used in the past, I keep a master list!

My centers resources include an editable version too. You can just keep it on the computer and add to it whenever you purchase or think of a new idea for a center. In my opinion, the editable list is the best way to go, because you can always add onto it:

So I don’t forget what center activities I’ve used in the past, I keep a master list!

I’ve also found that it’s helpful to keep a binder for each center:

 I keep a binder with master copies for each literacy center.

The very first page of the binder is that materials list for the center.

So I don’t forget what center activities I’ve used in the past, I keep a master list!

Then, I include a yearlong schedule for introducing the materials. If I want to make changes to the schedule, I can easily draw arrows or move things around, but it’s nice to have something to start with.

I have a yearlong plan for what centers activities I will introduce and when.

Next, I include the lessons I use to introduce the center at the beginning of the school year.

It’s nice to keep these lessons handy throughout the school year, because when things go awry (aka kids aren’t using the center correctly!) I can refer back to the initial lessons and do some re-teaching.

I keep the introductory lesson plans for all of my literacy centers in my binders.

Following these introductory pages, I include the actual printable materials students will need for the different activities.

I have 1-2 plastic sleeves per activity. The plastic sleeve(s) include:

  • Overview of the center (on top, for quick reference)
  • Lesson(s) to introduce the center
  • The printable masters for materials kids need for the center
  • Kid-friendly directions cards

For any literacy center activity, this is all the “stuff” I keep in my master binder.

All of that stuff above goes in 1-2 plastic sleeves:

For any literacy center activity, this is all the “stuff” I keep in my master literacy centers binder.

Then, when I assemble materials the kids will eventually use, I put them in a simple manila envelope. And I keep the envelopes in these plastic storage tubs, labeled by center:

This is how I store prepared literacy center materials when students are not using them.

You can find those tubs on Amazon HERE.

Organizing the Kids’ Stuff

Now let’s move on to the kids’ stuff—the actual materials they will need to do the centers activities!

First, I have my students bring their own individual book bags to centers. They use them in the independent reading center, reading response center, partner reading center, and sometimes even the writing center.

I also give each student a sturdy independent work folder to use. ALL of the student’s paper-and-pencil work for centers goes in the folder.

The side with the red sticker is for finished work (aka work that I can review) and the side with the green sticker is for work in progress.

I have students keep an independent work folder for centers. The green sticker side is for work in progress and the red sticker side is for finished work that I can review!

Then there’s all the other centers “stuff.” What to do about that?

My personal preference is to keep everything students will need for a center in one or two plastic storage tubs.

And I’ve been using the same type of tub that I store the prepared materials in:

I keep literacy centers materials for students to use in these tubs.

I don’t keep a tub for every single separate center activity, because I typically use the materials for other purposes throughout the year. My binder and own tub(s) for the center serves as my “bank” of activities, and then I gather other materials from other classroom storage areas.

Your Thoughts?

Do you have any great storage ideas for centers? Please leave a comment below!

If you’re looking for the materials lists, lesson plans, and activities featured in this post, you can check out my kindergarten, first grade, or second grade centers bundles HERE .

Happy organizing!

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6 Responses to How to Get Organized for Literacy Centers in K-2

  1. You are so organized and I love your materials. I am hoping to begin to organize all of the literacy centers and guided materials over Winter Break. I am not born-organized so posts like this are really helpful. This probably sounds silly but can you elaborate on how you organize the students’ centers versus how you organize the centers still in storage? I struggle with this.

    • Hey Amy!! Not silly at all! It’s a little confusing because I use the same type of storage boxes for my stuff (when it’s not “in rotation” as an option for the kids) and the kids’ stuff.

      Basically, in each center is a bin. The materials kids will need for the center are in the bin.

      In an identical bin (on my own shelves), I have manila envelopes. In each manila envelope, I have the prepared materials that will eventually be in a center (or something we did before and will do again).

      Does this help at all?

      Alison

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