Why I Don’t Switch Out My Literacy Centers Every Week (And What I Do Instead!)

We all know that changing out materials for literacy centers is essential.

Introducing new materials helps keep the kids engaged. AND it gives them practice with different skills as we move through the school year.

However, we have to think carefully about:

  • How often to switch out materials
  • How and when to teach students to use the new materials
  • How many centers to replace each week

For a while, I switched out my centers every week. Every Friday afternoon or Monday morning, I’d replace (some of) my centers materials. Before the kids went to centers on Monday, I explained all of the activities so they’d know what to do.

This routine worked fine for me in terms of my own organization and planning.

However, it didn’t work great for my kids. I always felt like I was losing them when I explained the centers activities on Monday. Even if they were familiar with some of or all of the activities, it was just a LOT to throw at them all at once.

Do you ever feel the same way? If so, keep reading! In this post, I’ll share a simple alternative to switching out your literacy centers at the beginning of each week!

Instead of changing out my centers weekly, I use a different approach. It’s made ALL the difference with my students! Read the post to learn about it and get a freebie.

Photo Credits:  Katerina Graghine, Shutterstock

I thought it’d be best if I explained my system in a video. Click “play” below to watch!

The Recap

Instead of introducing multiple new centers at the beginning of each week, I designate one day of the week for each center.

For example…

  • Monday = partner reading center
  • Tuesday = word work center
  • Wednesday = independent reading center
  • Thursday = writing center
  • Friday = listening center

If you have more than 5 centers, you can assign more than one center to each day.

Then, on that center’s designated day, you can do one of two things:

  • Introduce a new activity (or a variation of a pre-existing activity)
  • Re-teach a procedure or teach a troubleshooting lesson to help students overcome a challenge you’ve noticed them having in that center

This strategy has helped my students and me by:

  • Preventing “information overload,” since only one activity is introduced or reviewed at a time
  • Giving students something new to look forward to EVERY day
  • Ensuring that we have time for re-teaching procedures and expectations when the need arises (and we all know the need WILL arise! ;-))

Of course, you can still prep all of your centers for the next week on Thursday, Friday, or the weekend before. You just wait to introduce certain materials rather than putting everything out on Monday.

Pretty simple, right?

If you’d like to use the planning calendar I showed in the video, click on the image below to receive it. (You’ll get other literacy center planning freebies in the download, too!!)

Instead of changing out my centers weekly, I use a different approach. It’s made ALL the difference with my students! Read the post to learn about it and get a freebie.

AND one last thing — In last week’s post, I described another important change I made to improve student engagement and learning in centers. If you haven’t read it yet, click HERE.

Happy teaching!

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Pam

I love this idea, but in my class my students only go to one center/station a day. Do your students go to every center everyday?

Jill Evans

As a new teacher I love your posts!

Christina

One good thing about using the daily 5 stations is that it doesn’t require frequent switching out of materials… Even with Word Work, there are multiple choices and it’s just the words that switch each week.

Sasha

Hello. I had a question. So if they are all doing the same center each day then do you have enough materials for all of them ready? Do you have amount listening centers for all of them to be doing it at the same time? Maybe I am not understanding the process. Thank you.

Colleen

Thank you for this great idea. Implementing Learning Centers has always been a struggle for me. Your posts have been helpful.

Amy Trigg

Alison,

I am a first grade teacher at a rural school district in Ohio.
How often do you suggest students visit each center throughout the week? Also, how many times a week do you suggest to meet with each small group? Thank you for your input!

Melanie

Hi! Sorry a bit confused, so for example if you have 22 students typically how many groups and centers are you running. Just need clarification. I am with you on information overload and loss of engagement.

Jim

Hi Alison,
I really enjoy your PD sessions, they’re very helpful and help me to plan my own curriculum. I’m wondering how long each of your literacy centers last?

Jim Rojas

Shani

Hi Alison,

I love this idea about only introducing 1 or 2 new centers a day. I am curious about a few things.
1. How do you have the kids rotate through the centers?
2. How do you make sure they all get to every center each week? What if some kids did an “old” center (before you introduced the new one that week). Do they get a chance to do the new one? When?
3. How do your students react to doing a center more than once?
4. Do you use recording sheets for accountability?

Sharon Konopasek

Love your ideas!

Erika

I love this idea! The next time I change out centers I think I will change out one at a time. Less stress for me! Thank you!