Literacy Rotations- This is gonna be a long one...

I was talking with a friend about today about how I did literacy centers this year so I decided I would share with all of you as well. In my tiny 2 year career, I have gone through many MANY different methods of doing center time, but this method really worked for me this year and I think I will stay with it for a while. One of my teammates actually came up with this idea and I ran with it. It might seem a little overwhelming so stick with me...there are freebies to help at the end!

Here's the basics:
3 days of rotations
8 groups
9 stations

I broke my kids up into 8 groups (Since I have 18 kids this made for nice little groups - much better than the days when I had 4-5 UGH). Each week we had 9 stations. Each day of rotations the kids went to 3 stations and the teacher table. This is my favorite part of this method - I saw ALL my kids every day that we rotated.

I broke up the activities in the stations to that basically the kids had a "fun" station (playdoh mats, matchups/puzzles/games, computers, listening, leap pads, letter of the week craftivity, sight word craftivity, ect) then more of a "work" center (Center activities that I made or found on TPT/letter of the week sound and handwriting worksheets, ect). These stations usually had some sort of product so the kids had some accountability. Then the teacher table, and then another "work" station. So on any given day the kids had 2 center activities to complete, time with me, and more of a fun (but educational!!) station.

So here's a typical center rotations schedule

1. CVC word work center
2. Leap pads
3. Scrambled sentences
4. Roll and write sight word activity
5. Playdoh mats - building sight words
6. Letter of the week sound/handwriting practice
7. Beginning/ending sounds center
8. Computers (starfall, or other software)
9. Read, stamp, and write sight words activity

If I made "fun" stuff at 2, 5, and 8 it was the perfect pattern of work, fun, work, teacher, work, fun, work, teacher ect...

Each student gets a "map" and a center work folder for the week.

(You can download a set at the bottom of the post) The folder is just a 12x18 piece of paper folded in half and stapled to make an envelope/pocket with the map stapled on the front. When the students are cleaning up their center, they place their work in the folder and I come around with a marker or stamp. If they were quiet and on task during that station, they get a happy face or fun stamp. If they were not on task or caused trouble they usually get a sad face in that square. Then everyone checks their map to see where to go next and when I say "go" they move to the next station at the same time and get to work. We do a LOT of routines and explanations at the start of the year about HOW to rotate from one station to the next and how we STAY at our station until it is time to rotate. They are usually pretty good about this.

At the end of the day we usually had a time for "developmental centers" and I would quickly scan through the center folders and those who had been off task had to use that time to complete their work from the day. For some students it worked better to keep them back from rotating to the fun center with the rest of their group during rotations and make them stay and complete their work right then. It's no fun to watch your friends play on computers while you sit and do the work they already finished. Either way, I ALWAYS check center work.

For early finishers during rotations I usually have books at the stations or they can color a picture on the back of one of their sheets in their center folder. At the end of the week when the maps are all full, I send the whole folder home.

It might seem like a lot to manage and plan for but I really really LOVED rotating this way this year. Here's why:

I saw ALL my kids every day.
The small groups made it much easier to manage
They were all engaged in a variety of activities while I did small group
They rotated often enough that I didn't have long stretches of time where they had to occupy themselves.
There was a LOT of learning that went on over the course of a week.
Only having 3 rotation days took a lot of the pressure off when we had weird schedules or short weeks.

Once we got the procedures down, we could go through a whole days' rotation in just over an hour. They knew they were expected to stay on task, and clean and rotate QUICK. Strict, clear, expectations went a LONG way with this. (Also, it took me a few weeks to actually SIT at my teacher table with my groups while we were learning how to act and rotate).

Maybe this is interesting/inspirational to you, maybe you are ready to lock up and send me off to the loony bin. I just wanted to share what worked for me and my kiddos this year :)

The first download is a set of rotation maps. The second one is basically a visual of how the rotations go. I originally made that document to help me remember what kids were coming to my table, when, and where they were going, but I really didn't use it at all once I knew what was going on. BUT it does serve as a good visual aid for anyone who does not live inside my head haha.

Group Rotation Maps

Rotation Layout

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Freebie Fridays


  1. I LOVE this method. I am definitely registering this one is the books because it is so ME :) Thanks so much for sharing and for the freebies :)

    My (Not So) Elementary Life

  2. Thanks for sharing! I know I have to do something different with literacy stations this year, but haven't thought about any of it yet. Thanks for the new idea to consider.
    Mrs. Shelton’s Kindergarten

  3. Love it! Wish we could do fun centers! I'm jealous!!

  4. Great blog and was easy to understand. I may have to "copy" you next year. :0) I am always looking for a new way to do reading centers.

  5. Great post!!! Thanks for writing such a detailed explanation. I'm always interested in seeing how others do centers. I really like the idea of seeing everyone every day.

    Simpson Superstars

  6. Thank you so much for posting this! Everytime I've had a class I've wanted to do centres, but was daunted by the set up. This will make it easier.

    I found you through Manic Monday!
    Reading with Miss D

  7. Great post! I just became you're 100th follower!


  8. I love seeing this on one organized page! I can't do anything until I can visualize it. I found you through Manic Monday. Love that site!

    I Teach. What's Your Super Power?

  9. Just wanted to know what the numbers represent on your map, where you have the day rotation and you have numbers 4 & 7, 7 & 1, 1 & 4?

    How long are your 4 rotations?

    How many weeks did it take for you to train the students?

    Do you have a visual for the students to follow so they know where to go?

  10. The 4&7, 7&1 ect numbers were mainly for me to know where each group was going to go AFTER the teacher table so I could tell them where to go next, but once we got it down I really didn't need that page at all.

    Each rotation lasted ABOUT 15 minutes with clean up (we clean up QUICK). Some days it went longer than others but usually we could get through all 4 stations in an hour (give or take a few extra minutes)

    Training them was a gradual process...we had been rotating in larger groups for most of the year and I didn't start this system until December (not because they weren't ready, just because that's when we came up with it). At the start of the year (like in the second week) I usually start doing "play" rotations where they can draw or do blocks or playdoh or anything fun so we can learn how to rotate, how to clean up and how to stay in our stations. This year the learning process went quickly, other years it took more practice.

    The students follow their map on their center folder, and then all the stations have a big number on them. The stations USUALLY stayed in the same place and then numbers were just up all the time. And they were arranged around the room in an order so 1 was near 2 ect...

  11. Gotcha, I get it now! Thanks. I'm really interested in starting this next yr. I think I will also start off with fun play centers in the beg. of the yr. just so they can learn how to rotate. In past yrs. I did longer center times & only got thru 3 groups a day. But this will be much better to see all groups every day. I really appreciate you sharing this! :)

  12. I mean, I only rotated 3 days each the week so I still only saw everyone 3 times, but I was really happy with that!

    Email me at if you have any more questions when you get started :)

  13. What a terrific freebie, I love your details and directions!
    Thank you for sharing this at TBA and linking up!
    Fern Smith’s Classroom Ideas!
    Fern Smith’s Pinterest Boards!

  14. I loved reading about your literacy rotations! I just nominated your blog for the One Lovely Blog Award. Head over to my blog to pick it up. http:\\

  15. So how do centers work on days 4 & 5?

  16. We only rotate 3 out of the 5 days. On the Monday and Friday I usually extend out some of our reading block activities, we have rolling readers come and read to our kids, and it also allows for days off and extra time taken away from random things throughout the week. I hardly ever have 5 full days in a week that I could do rotation every day.

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  19. Hi! I found this while looking for help with center rotation and I think I get it, but maybe not. You have 2 kiddos at each station and then 6 come to you as a group? No wait, 2 students come to you as if you were another center? How long do they stay at each center? I'm sure it's in your post somewhere, but my brain is busy with the math. At 15 minutes a group and you see 9 groups that's a 2 hour center time? Yipes! I have maybe 75 minutes after whole group. Any advice?

    1. Hey, Pink! Great question....didn't see a response though. Did you hear back about your question? Now I'm wondering the same thing. I love the idea overall....I'm just not great at the logical math part! (Mainly wondering about the teacher rotation!)

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  21. I don't have a ScribD account. How can I download these freebies? I have a 3-day full day preschool class and this would work perfectly!