Organizing and Managing Classroom Centers

children raising hand in classroom
Tetra Images/Jamie Grill

Classroom Learning centers are a great way for students to work together to accomplish a given task. They provide the opportunity for children to practice hands-on skills with or without social interaction depending upon the teacher's task. Here you will learn tips on how to organize and store center content, along with a few suggestions on how to manage classroom centers.

Organize and Store Contents

Every teacher knows that an organized classroom is a happy classroom. To ensure your learning centers are neat and tidy and ready for the next student, it is essential to keep learning center contents organized. Here are a variety of ways to organize and store classroom centers for easy access.

  • Place tasks in small plastic bins and label with the word and picture.
  • Place task in gallon size Ziploc bags, label, and place in, or clip to, an accompanying file folder.
  • A great way to keep your Ziploc bag sturdy is to place a piece of cardboard (cut the front off of a cereal box) and place it in the bag. Then on the blank side of the cardboard print the topic of the learning center and the directions. Laminate for easy reuse.
  • Place little components of the learning center into small size Ziploc baggies and label.
  • Place center task in a shoebox labeled with the number that corresponds to the Common Core Standard.
  • Take a coffee container and place the task inside the container. On the outside label with words and pictures.
  • Place center contents in a manilla file folder and have instructions on the front. Laminate if needed.
  • Place contents in color-coordinated baskets. Reading centers are in pink baskets, math centers are in blue, etc.
  • Buy a colored drawer organizing rolling cart and place center task inside.
  • Create a bulletin board, adhere library pockets to the board and place the learning center task inside. Post directions on the bulletin board.

Lakeshore Learning has storage bins in a variety of sizes and colors that are great for learning centers.

Manage Learning Centers

Learning centers can be a lot of fun but they also can get quite chaotic. Here are a few suggestions on how to set up and manage them.

  1. First, you must plan the structure of the learning center, are students going to work alone or with a partner? Each learning center can be unique, so if you choose to give students the option to work alone or with a partner for the math center, you do not have to give them an option for the reading center.
  2. Next, you must prepare the contents of each learning center. Choose the way you plan on storing and keeping the center organized from the list above.
  3. Set up the classroom so that children are visible at all centers. Make sure you create centers around the perimeter of the classroom so children won't bump into one another or get distracted.
  4. Place centers that are alike near each other, and make sure if the center is going to use materials that are messy, that is it placed on a hard surface, not a carpet.
  5. Introduce how each center works, and model how they must complete each task.
  6. Discuss, and model the behavior that is expected of students at each center and hold students responsible for their actions.
  7. Use a bell, timer, or hand gesture when it is time to switching centers.
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Your Citation
Cox, Janelle. "Organizing and Managing Classroom Centers." ThoughtCo, Aug. 25, 2020, Cox, Janelle. (2020, August 25). Organizing and Managing Classroom Centers. Retrieved from Cox, Janelle. "Organizing and Managing Classroom Centers." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 30, 2023).