First of all, I think it's really important that the children know where everything is, and that they can easily take things out and put them away. For example, I have purchased boxed items from teacher stores that are impossible, even for an adult, to fit back into the box. It's very frustrating for the students, and annoying as an adult to have to spend ten minutes trying to fit pieces perfect back into a wooden box to slide the lid closed. What I do now is just take the materials out of the store-bought box, and put them in a plastic bin that is also color-coordinated to go in a particular center.
|Math Center with Green Bins|
|ABC Center with Red Bins|
I don't have pictures of my classroom 20 years ago, but I was not as organized then as I was today. I do remember that back then I had a dramatic play center that the kids really loved. With Common Core, it doesn't seem like there's room anymore for dramatic play, and that makes me a little sad.
This is my writing center, and it's a thousand times better than it was 20 years ago!
I hope I don't make enemies here, but I took the crayons and colored pencils out of the writing center because they have them in their chair pockets anyway. What I did that works really well for me is to put white boards with dry erase markers in writing center, as well as Magnadoodles, electronic writing toys, chalk, and chalk boards. I did this because every year I found that if I had too many utensils in writing center they would end up on the floor, in the wrong bins, and just making a total mess. So, I told my children that if they want to write with their colored pencils or crayons, they can do it at their seats, and if they want to write with chalk or dry erase markers they go to the writing center. This worked SO much better for me. I added some electronic writing toys this year, and my kids would go ballistic when it was their turn for writing center, which was a dramatic turnaround from previous years when they weren't so enthusiastic about it.
Since I touched on children writing at their seats, another thing I found that really works for me is having chair pockets so that the students can just pull out their scissors, crayons, ABC folders, etc.
|Table with Chair Pockets|
I have done library center in so many different ways in the past, including a swimming pool, a tree house, and a tent, but the one that I love the most is what I had this year, which is just making the library center look like a miniature version of their living room at home, complete with plush chairs, coffee table, etc. Now my children flock to the library center as much as they would pick science center.
I'm so glad that I found Kristin's linky party today. If you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you!