It's so, so important to have a good centers system for them to run smoothly. You need a good management system and ALL materials ready (or readily available in case of an emergency (lost or broken item :) for your students at all times.
But, what happens when your students are all done at different times?? Oh, and it WILL happen!!! You will have little Suzy, who is done and finished with her center in PERFECT handwriting in five minutes flat. Then, you might have little Johnny who is still working on his second problem 20 minutes later :) That's just how it goes, that's life. Everyone is different, works at their own pace and learns at their own pace. Instead of ripping your hair out....be prepared!!!
Here's what I do for my early finishers. Some may think it's a little much, or that I'm a little anal. But, I LOVE this system and it has worked wonders for me!!!!
This little system will help you avoid unnecessary chaos and prevent children from picking the same activity day after day, after day! It just helps keep things a little more organized AND the kids love it!! They love it because THEY get to CHOOSE the activity that they want to do, BUT, it is set up so that they have to pick a different activity every day!
I use activity cards to display the activities that the students can choose from that week. I hang the activity cards on mats that I have labeled 1-6 (or A-F if we are talking about Literacy centers). There are also a row of command hooks hanging across the bottom of the mats.
Each student has a laminated menu. The menu has numbers 1-6 (or letters a-h for Lit centers) on it. On the back of the menu is the students picture. Each menu has a binder clip on the top. When the student picks the Can-do center he wants to go to for that day, he uses a dry erase marker to X it out. Then, tomorrow he won't be able to go to the Xed out center again. He will have to choose a new one to go to.
As you can see, on the menu below, the student had picked can-do 5 on the previous day. It is marked out. So, today she is picking number one. she will mark out number one and hang it on one of the hooks with her picture showing so we can easily see who is in that center.
Here is what the can-do corner looks like. The orange side is Literacy and the black side is math. While we are doing Lit centers, we have the Literacy menus out. The math menus are tucked away on a shelf to avoid confusion...
Seem like a lot to handle and keep track of?? That's why I DON'T do it!!! We have a class job for that :) The "Center Patrol" Takes the tags down after every center time and switches the boxes out for us. At the end of the week, they also erase all of the X's off of the menus too :)
Do I switch the can-dos out EVERY week???? Yes and No. Some I keep the same, some I totally change and some I just change the graphics on the paper to make it "new" ;) Here are some of my favorites!!!!.....
Deedee's Writing Stations
Deedee's Super Sentences for your pocket charts
Growing Kinders' It's Calendar Time!
Growing Kinders' Fun in the Kitchen
Marsha McGuire's Getting Started with Sensory Tables
My Can-do system has 50 different activity cards for you to choose from :) You can check it out HERE!!!