Organizing math centers (or any kind of organization, really) is not my strength. I really have to work at it and find a system that works for me, trying lots of systems in the process. Through trying out these different systems (and I tried out a lot), I was finally able to come up with systems that really worked for me. On this post, I will share some ideas for organizing math centers that work even if you are not naturally organized (#guilty).
This post contains an affiliate link if you wish to purchase the containers mentioned.
Organizing Your Weekly/Daily Math Centers
To organize your weekly centers, you need some type of basket or container where you can store them out of the way but easily put out at a center, especially if you are like me and use student tables/desks as some of your center areas.
I use these Sterilite Large Clip Box containers to store my weekly math centers. They stack nicely and can easily be placed on a shelf or even on the floor under the markerboard. Around $30 for six containers (you may be able to find them cheaper at a local store), make these a pretty affordable option. The labels for these can be found in my free starter kits for math centers, which you can find here!
One reason I love them is that they are able to hold everything needed for the center. As you can see, they hold full page centers, materials needed for the center, and even file folders (where I store recording sheets). You can see these containers on Amazon by clicking here.
These containers work great for me, but really any baskets or bins that you find will work as long as they are large enough to house all of the math center pieces and parts, which takes us right to the next section.
Organizing Math Center Pieces and Parts
Several years ago, I lucked up and found plastic containers in two sizes on clearance at Office Depot. I scooped them right up and I use them to house my math task cards and roll and answer math games. They are a perfect fit! I also labeled the outside with the standard so I could find the ones I needed easily.
A few weeks ago, I picked up about 20 of these plastic containers from Office Depot as well. I haven’t done anything with them yet, but I am thinking these will be great to store some of my other math centers that I still have stored in bags. These are perfect for storing full-page centers and centers with small center pieces. Also, I love that they are clear, so I can probably save time labeling them and just let the title page of the center be the label.
Another more affordable option is Ziploc bags. I still use Ziploc bags to store my seasonal math centers and most of my test prep math centers. They are large enough to hold title pages and answer keys (with a bit of trimming). They are also super affordable and on most supply lists, so if they tear or rip, no biggie. I haven’t taken the time to label these since the title page can be seen clearly, but you could easily label these as well, even with just a black sharpie.
Folders and Ziploc Bags
Another affordable option is using folders + Ziploc bags. I use these a lot to store my math centers from my Math Centers Bundle with puzzles, games, and all kinds of random sized centers.
Staple a bag with the small pieces to the one side of the folder. Place the directions page, recording sheets, and answer key (optional) on the other side.
Organizing Math Centers Not In Use
Now, let’s get to the tricky part. Well, this was definitely tricky for me. What will you do with all of the math centers that you are not using right now or what will you do with all the math centers you prepped and need to house until they are ready for use?
Idea #1: Organize math centers in plastic containers.
Idea #2: Organize math centers in a filing cabinet or crate.
Let’s take a look at both of these ideas.
Organizing Math Centers in Plastic Containers
This is the more expensive option, but it works well if you have extra space to store containers. Here is the container I currently use:
I purchased this plastic container from Office Depot but I know several teachers have purchased similar ones from Michaels using a coupon code and teacher discount. You can see that one here. Each drawer is labeled with the topic or skill. Inside each drawer, I keep my math centers for that skill. Like I shared above, I store some of my centers in plastic containers I purchased on clearance at Office Depot.
I also have this container that I use for storing my seasonal centers and test prep centers. The bottom drawer holds various math materials that are needed for centers. I purchased this from Office Depot, and you can see it here. Grab the black labels I used for both of these containers by clicking here.
Here are two other plastic containers I used for two years before upgrading to the colored ones. They worked great, too!
Organizing Math Centers in Filing Cabinets
While I love using plastic containers to organize my math centers, they do cost money and take up space. If you already have filing cabinets, you can store your math centers in hanging file folders.
I used the FREE filing cabinet labels from Kate’s Science Classroom to label my hanging file folders by standard (you could also label by skill). Then, all you have to do is place your center materials inside.
Organizing Recording Sheets and Answer Keys
How you organize your recording sheets and answer keys really depends on what you use for organizing your actual math center pieces. The best possible scenario is choosing an organizer that is large enough to house the recording sheets and answer keys.
An alternative would be to use a file folder labeled “Recording Sheets” and print/copy the recording sheets for that center and place inside. An even better option is to use generic recording sheets as much as possible. Then, just make sure the file folder is kept stocked with recording sheets.
Answer keys can also be kept in a file folder or in the actual center container. Another idea is to store answer keys for task cards in a binder. I personally have not tried this, but it is on my to-do list when I find some time.
Need Math Centers?
If you are in need of math centers and want a “Give me your best recommendation for one resource,” I highly recommend my Standards Based Math Centers for 3rd-5th. Click on the links below to see your grade level.
If you are wanting to get started with math centers in your classroom, I have FREE math center starter packs, which you can read about and get the download links by clicking here.
Want to read more about guided math?
Here are some other helpful blog posts about using math centers. Just click on the title to be taken to the blog post:
How do you organize your math centers? Do you have any containers that you found and love using that are not shared above? Let us know in the comments!
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