Wednesday, November 14, 2012

5th Grade Literacy Centers!

ok.... as I promised earlier today here are our centers :) they hang in the entrance to our classroom.
(hooks from Ikea, $1 bags from Michaels)

I prefer bags to baskets because they are much easier to store and mover around.

I was quite impressed how well my kids did for the first day! They acted like pros!!!
We spent the first 30 minutes reviewing expectations & procedures: 
(I post these on the SMART board and placed a copy of it in each of the centers bags)

Next, I explained how I want the students to keep track of their work and record it in their Centers notebook. Below is the format I provided them with for completing the tasks & reflecting on them.
They copied the format to their notebook and began using it today.

Here is one of the kiddo's notebook. Every student has the same cover to their notebook, a table of contents where they keep track of their tasks, a reflection format page, and the actual activities they complete.

Below is my centers rotation chart. 
Students are grouped by ability and group 5 is that one that sees me the most.
(this is projected on the board daily)

The plan is to incorporate literacy centers daily for 30 minutes and make it a routine. Its def. something I struggled to incorporate until now and realized I will have to sacrifice other things in order to integrate it. However, since centers ARE a priority for me, I will now have them going daily from 9-9:30 when my kids return from specials.

Here are some pictures from today

Group 5 (skills & strategies center)

Group 2 (reading in the content areas center)

Group 5 (independent reading center)

Group 4 (guided reading; they worked on a main idea board game)

Group 3 (writing center)

Group 4 was supposed to meet with me today and they did. However, due to P.E. being canceled, we had a few loose middle schoolers in the building that walked around and suggest their help.
I recruited them to work with my group and they enjoyed facilitating the board game with group 4.
This allowed me to walk around and check in with all the other groups making sure they knew what they were doing and were successful at their task. (and of course I got to snap some pics for ya'll)

To signal the end of the the centers session, I rang my no yell bell. I then gave the students 2 min. to wrap up their center, organize their bag and hang it back, and get back to their seat.
The second time I rang my bell meant the session was over and that we were back to business.

We took 5 minutes to reflect on how today went and what we learned, and I allowed a few students to share their entries under the document camera as a model for others.

Here's the goodies in our writing center for example.

I'm a big fan of making my centers with year long enrichment activities. As we cover certain skills and/or concepts I add the to the bags. But I like to keep the bags

directions are double sided in a sheet protector
each center includes a must do & may do list of activities.

Picture prompt cards from Edupress (these are my favorite!!!)
Each card is laminates and the whole stack is kept together in a sheet protector.
On the back of each photograph there are 3 writing prompts: narrative, expository, and persuasive.

Writing Prompt Cubes from Learning Resources.
The kids LOVE these.

A variety of flip books from McDonald publishing

Content Area Journal Prompt from McDonald publishing

Yes, I know... these manipulatives are store bought. But the kids & I LOVE them and they've lasted me for 5 years now and are still in perfect conditions. Worth every penny I spent on them.
I create "teacher made"activities that pertain to specific skills throughout the year and add them as we cover them, but the above remains in the bag all year!!!

Here is our Skills & Strategy center


This center focuses on specific skills we covered and offers students a chance to practice those skills.

Task Cards (Compare & Contrast by Rachel Lynette) & Context Clues (from Pro Teacher)
I laminate & cut up the cards, punch a whole through them, and put them through a ring. 
 I keep them in a ziplock bag and they're ready to go.


These are my Take It To Your Seat Literacy Centers (by Evan-Moor)
I own the entire series (every subject and every grade level) and it is by far one of the best investments I ever made.

Each center has been laminated, cut up, and placed in a folder for students to work with.
Each center contains activity cards, and answer form, and a direction sheet.

Here's our Independent Center


Read to Self Task Cards (from Pro Teacher) and Story Elements Cootie Catchers from the AMAZING Jen Runde

I also have multiple copies of Scholastic's Storywork (with multiple copies in each sheet protector)
That include a variety of literary texts including fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

Lastly, I have a duotang folder with a variety of graphic organizers & thinking maps for students to use with the reading & activities.

Here's our Reading in the Content Areas center


I include Time for Kids, Super Science, Ranger Rick, Scholastic News, etc. magazines with multiple copies of each.

Students have a variety of activities they need to complete on the Must & May do lists but the one below is their favorite.

I got these dice from Kagan 

One with prompts on Famous People, one about Current Events, and the last one for Historical Events.

There are a few more centers but I'm a bit tired & my school day is now over :)
I have to get ready to head to class (grad school) and so I'll have to post the rest tomorrow.

I promise to add lots of pictures and elaborate on Guided Reading!

Would love to hear your thoughts!!!!!!!!!!

What are some tricks you have up your sleeve to make centers engaging & productive?

How do you manage them?


  1. Thanks for showing us inside the bags. I think setting up centers is so hard for many of us upper grade teachers because we are just not used to it. Looks like you have a great system worked out!

    1. Thanks Steph! I like keeping my bags low maintanance and make sure the activities in them are varied and can last a long time. Than every so often I add new activities to spice things up :) It's def. harder in the upper grades but my kids love doing centers!

  2. Hey girl! I was halfway through this last night when a friend called and I was on the phone forever! This was my first stop after school!

    I agree with Stephanie--I think it is a challenge to do this in grade 5, but yours look fantastic! I love how each center is set up with the "must do, may do". The students must love these!

    So happy to see you back :)

    1. Thanks Kristen!!!!!!!! I found that the more explicit my directions are for the kids, the more independent they are (and less questions they ask). Plus they love having choice :)

  3. These are awesome!!! I am now inspired to spruce up my own independent stations over the Thanksgiving Break!

    Thanks for the share!!!!

    1. Thanks :) I'm so glad to hear that! Would love to see your pictures!

  4. those bags are too cool! wonderful idea. I am your newest follower!! :)

  5. Hi Mor,
    Wow, how lucky your students are to have such a variety of learning! I was really just stopping by to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

    The Picture Book Teacher's Edition

  6. HI,

    Thanks for the great description of each. My question is how do you get the kids through 5 centers a day in 30 minutes. I am also short on time with my 5th graders but need to get to my groups. Would love to hear what you do.

    1. Hi :) If you look at the chart I posted you'll see that I only get my kids through one center a day, def. not 5 :) I wish I had that kind of time. They get through all the centers on a weekly basis. This gives them plenty of time to start & finish an activity.

    2. Grade5teacher - I read it the same way! I was trying to figure out how to get anything meaningful done in 5, six minute centers!

    3. Grade5teacher - I read it the same way! I was trying to figure out how to get anything meaningful done in 5, six minute centers!

  7. Absolutely LOVE this idea! I think I want to use some of the ideas to modify my current center/ reading group time!

    Martha (

  8. I absolutely love the reusable bag idea. More quiet than using tubs, and more space friendly. TFS

  9. I love this idea for centers - I agree about the one per day - my 5th graders could not do more than that... to crazy... what are the writing and guiding reading requirements that you use???
    thanks so much

  10. I think this is an excellent way to stay organized and teach students to be independent! I am a 6th/7th grade English teacher; I would love to start using centers in my classroom. Do you think it's possible to use this format while reading a novel? I think if I use my pacing guide to figure out what needs to be completed each week, I can assign specific pages to the reading groups. Any suggestions/advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. I'm a new 5th grade teacher and just introduced my Evan-Moore Take it to Your Seat writing center. My kids absolutely FLEW through it- on the first day! I was hoping to stretch my center time to around 30-35 minutes and I don't think it even took them 20. Any suggestions?

  13. I have a question ... do you meet with one group every day? Example, do you sit with the Guided Reading group every day? I sit with one group each time, and the others are working on their own, but discipline has become an issue - I teach 6th grade. So my question is what are YOU doing during this time? Thanks! Lisa

  14. I just came upon your website and LOVE it! I was wondering if you had an electronic copy of your literacy center Must Do, May Do activities, graphic organizers, etc.. I tried to enlarge them but was unsuccessful. Please, please send them to me I am trying to set up my centers now. Thank You!

    1. I have the same request! I can't enlarge them. My school district is big on centers this year and I never really did them. I am very impressed! Please email me a copy if you can.

  15. My question is how do you store all the different activities? That is where I have problems!

  16. This is a great idea to have the centers in reusable bags.

  17. Do you have each of the center directions for sale?

  18. Do you have pdf or word documents for the items in your Literacy Center bags? This is such an amazing idea!!!!!!

  19. I too would love access to the documents. Are they available in the store?

  20. We are doing the Lights, Camera, Action, Lead theme, so I'd love the center cover!

  21. Your page has inspired me to start creating centers to use within my 5th grade classroom. I am gathering materials to create the centers, and I love your idea for using a list of must dos and may dos. If possible, could I please have a copy of what you use in each center to help me create my own? Thank you!!

  22. I am having trouble getting some of these pictures to view larger or open and some are blocked all together. Could you please send me the may do/must do sheets and the center rules? I would love to share these with my 5th grade teachers! My email is Thank you in advance!

  23. I, too, would love your may do/must do sheets and center rules! I am trying to find the best fit for my reading centers! My email is

    Thanks so much!

  24. I just came across your post. I love your ideas. Could you please send me a copy of the rules and must and may dos? My email is Thanks!!

  25. I would love a copy of the must dos and may dos too! My email is Thanks

  26. How would I find a copy of the Writing Center "Must Dos" and "May Dos"? Thank you

  27. Hi! I am a new 5th grade teacher. I really like the literacy centers and I plan on using them. I would really love a copy of the "must dos" and the "may dos" too. My email address is

  28. Hi! I am a new 5th grade teacher. I really like the literacy centers and I plan on using them. I would really love a copy of the "must dos" and the "may dos" too. My email address is or

  29. Hi! I am also interested in the "must do", "may do" rules. Could you please email it to me I am definitely doing centers this year. I am going to follow you to keep up with your routine... I absolutely love how everything is set up!

  30. Love this!! I am a new 5th grade teacher (taught middle school forever) and trying to wrap my head around centers. Yours is the best plan I have seen by far---definitely following you now! How can I purchase? Have you thought of doing a webinar? Anything else you recommend? My email is Thank you so much for your post, and guidance!! :)

    1. p.s. I tried to access your TpT link, but it takes me to Wazala?

  31. Love your ideas! I am interested in accessing your documents if possible. My email address is:

  32. May I have a copy too? Thank you!!!! Mrsdaza@yahoo


  33. May I have a copy too? Thank you!!!! Hlwoz@yahoo


  34. As a teacher just being ask to take over 5th grade , these would be so beneficial. Are they available for purchase?

    Thank you

  35. Can you email me a copy? I would love to implement in my classroom. I have a hard time with centers.

  36. I'd also love a copy of the MUST DO's/MAY Do's, If you are able to email or let me know how to find them, I'd appreciate it!

  37. I love your centers and just purchased some of the materials you suggested on your site. I would like a copy of the MUST DO's/MAY Do's also. Are you able to email or let me know where to purchase them. You have an awesome set up.

  38. I absolutely love this set up. Is there a way to get a copy of your must do/may do lists for your centers.

  39. Thank you for your post! I am always looking for a ways to make guided reading more beneficial in my classroom. May I also have a copy of your must do/may do lists please? My email is

    Thanks a lot!


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