Heading back to school can always feel pretty stressful, especially when you feel like you are spending all of your time prepping and planning to make sure you get the year off on the right foot.
Getting your back to school centers prepped for your students doesn’t need to be super time consuming though! Low prep centers are easy to prep and are a fun, hands-on way for students to learn. They are a great way to have students practice working independently or in partners while reviewing and practicing important skills and concepts.
There are tons of great ideas when it comes to back to school centers. These are some of my favorites for starting the year off right and getting students to dive into learning right off the bat!
Centers for the Beginning of the Year
There is so much excitement at the beginning of the school year. For our young learners everything school related is fun and new. This is shortly followed by the changing weather and the beginning of fall. Both of these special seasons are great to bring into the classroom. I love using real-world themes and concepts to connect to our classroom learning. Sometimes this comes in the form of a unit or lesson, and other times it is through our activities, like centers.
At the beginning of the year, these Back to School Centers and September Centers are a great way to introduce my new students to centers. While the skills review is great, the opportunity to lay the foundation for centers for our entire year is more important.
Using these activities, students will learn what centers are and how they run in your classroom! These first weeks are vital for teaching center expectations and procedures. You can learn more about how I prep for the first day of centers in this blog post, Preparing for the First Day of Centers.
At the beginning of the year, our center time focus on teaching students:
- Center expectations
- How to work independently or with a partner
- How to find and gather center supplies
- Where to work
- Cleaning up center activities
- How we rotate through centers
- Turning in center work (if there’s any to turn in)
By focusing on one or two of these procedures each week, and gradually building on them, you can have your students working on centers in just a few weeks. Using center activities that are similar and provide some consistency are perfect because students become familiar with the tasks and develop those independent skills. These Low Prep Centers can do just that!
One of the most important things to remember about centers is that they should be used for review and practice. Students should not be given something new in centers. Well, if your students come to kindergarten without any prior schooling experience, that can make centers at the beginning of the year a little tricky!
We focus on skills or concepts that my students should be familiar with as incoming kindergarteners. These include: colors, shapes, letters, and numbers. While they might not yet know all the names, they have likely had some exposure to all of these areas. We also focus a lot on building fine motor strength with our center activities so it doesn’t always have to be an academic gain!
I also like to incorporate these skills and concepts into printable worksheet activities so I can use them as an informal assessment to see how my students are doing with cutting, gluing, writing, etc. These no prep printables are great to use in the classroom. I love them for whole class practice, differentiated instruction, adding to a center or even at home practice. You can find these printables in the Back to School Bundle.
During center time, your students have the opportunity to practice so many things!
Uppercase and lowercase letter matching, number identification, counting, one-to-one correspondence, number writing, color identification, sorting by color, using scissors, using glue, finding center supplies, manipulating play dough, using dry erase markers, cleaning up center supplies, putting away center supplies, and turning in center work!
That’s a lot of learning in a short amount of time! Don’t underestimate all that you are teaching your students with beginning of the year centers.
Low Prep Back to School Centers
Since the Back to School season is so CRAZY and there is so much to do in a short amount of time to get ready for the new year, I want to help you save some time with low prep back to school centers. Low prep centers are so great because they are simple, yet effective and take minimal prep time on your part. These activities are perfect for introducing centers to your students and teaching the procedures related to centers. They are a great way to practice beginning of the year skills.
It also makes it really easy to store and organize the centers in your classroom so they don’t feel overwhelming.
Once all of your students make it through the Back to School Centers, they can move on to the Low Prep September Centers!
Using these predictable centers each month can help establish your centers at the beginning of the school year. We all know that getting settled into a routine with a new class can take some time, so having your activities prepped and ready for students to dive into is key!
These low prep centers will help you transition effortlessly from the back to school chaos to a full-blown classroom routine. Your students will love the hands-on activities included in these center activities and you’ll feel confident knowing you are providing them with meaningful learning time!
Low Prep Centers for the Year
You can find these engaging hands-on center activities in my shop for every month of the school year.
If you’re interested in checking off your center activities for the entire year, you can check out the Low Prep Centers Year Long Bundle.
With 8 centers for each month, you’ll have a variety of skills based center activities for the entire school year right at your fingertips!
Save these Back to School Center Ideas
Pin these back to school centers to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can quickly and easily come back when you need center ideas for your primary classroom.