Socially Distanced Centers in the Classroom

December 26, 2020

One of the biggest questions I have received since school has started is, “how can I run centers in my socially distant classroom?!”

I had some of my own ideas on how I might try running traditional centers in the classroom and I checked in with K-2 teachers in my Facebook Group as well to gather some ideas! After doing so, I came up with 3 top tips to share to help you run centers in your classroom.

Before we dive in, you can actually watch (or listen to) all this information by clicking play on the video below:

If you like these types of videos, go ahead and subscribe to my YouTube channel, so you can see all the videos I upload each week!

 

Here are the 3 tips!

Tip 1: Storage Ideas (to help with germs)

There seems to be 2 main ways that teachers are having students store their center materials during COVID-19 to keep the spread of germs at bay. The most common way I am seeing is by having students keep their own individual storage bins.

I have seen students use pencil pouches like these to store classroom materials:

Those work great, but my favorite item for this type of storage is actually food-prep containers!

These restaurant-grade containers are sturdy and big enough to hold individual materials students need for centers like crayons, markers, dice, cubes, laminated center pieces, etc. I also like them because they are very cheap and you can buy them in bulk.

 

The second way I am seeing materials being stored is through a shared bin where there are a limited amount of students using the materials inside the bin at one time, usually for a few days to a week at a time. These are usually the plastic shoebox type of bins like I have always used for my math centers, seen below:

These can get switched out pretty easily by either disinfecting the materials on Fridays before use next week or you can rotate them through a “quarantine” period. This way different groups of students don’t touch the materials for a few days and all the germs can die off (very scientific, I know).

If you have your own storage solution that’s been working for your classroom, let me know in the comments!

 

Tip 2: playing games while remaining socially distant!

Playing games together allows for cooperation and collaboration and it can be a great way to review skills! So how can we do that while remaining socially distant?

First, I shared 2 fun and easy math card games you can play during distance learning. With these games, students don’t need to be near one another, but they still play together. See how to play both games here:

Another game I love students to play at their own seats is called Sight Word Treasure Hunt! It is a twist on the popular board game, Battleship, and students can sit across from one another with a divider in between them to play! My kids LOVE playing this game and it can be applied to many different skills. See exactly how to play Sight Word Treasure Hunt and grab the game cards here in this blog post:

 

My other class favorites include my Print, Play, LEARN partner games! These no-prep games are super easy to use and most of the game boards already are set up for 2 players to have their own board so they can sit apart from one another. As I suggest in the video, you can also just print out 2 game boards for students to use and each player will color in their opponent’s turns as well. This way they can keep track of who is winning and how the game is progressing without sharing a sheet of paper or crayons! You can see all of my print and play games below:

 

 

Tip 3a: individual center ideas

If your district is very strict right now and you just can’t find a way for students to work together, then individual centers are going to be where it’s at for you! There are tons of free individual centers you can find on TPT, like my pumpkin patch number match number sense game shown below:

If you’re doing individual centers, those food-prep storage bins I shared above are a great place for students to store their work and they can use them during a quiet time in the classroom!

 

Another individual and highly engaging center I love are my Solve It math puzzles:

I got this idea from an escape room I went to a few years ago and it was so much fun to use the spinner to crack the code! For these math solve it puzzles, students get their own spinners and there are 30 different puzzles to solve for each of the different skills (addition, place value, subtraction and number sense). I love these because they’re highly engaging and independent! There is also a blank puzzle in each skill set so students can create their own codes for classmates to solve!

You can see all these puzzles and how to use them below:

 

 

Tip 3b: make it digital

Another independent center that works wonders is to have students complete digital activities on the computer or tablet! Teachers are creating tons of digital resources and games to help others make it through distance learning. Here are a few I have created over the last 9 months or so:

Cover Up! Math Centers: this is an easy-to-use digital center where students must use stars to cover up the squares that match the target skill. This bundle includes slides for number sense, place value, addition, subtraction, fractions, geometry, and more!

 

Beginning Comprehension Passages: if you’re looking for an easy, digital way to check for comprehension, I made these carefully thought out passages for students to read, re-read, and then answer some questions! These are available as a bundle, shown below, or you can get them specifically for different phonics skills (short vowels, long vowels, digraphs, etc.). These are available in Seesaw, Google Slides, and printable:

Click any of the pics above to see the passages!

 

Lastly, my husband actually made this fun website for students to practice CVC words. It is called “CVC Word Factory” and all students need to do is choose a vowel then press start! The factory will create a CVC word and students need to decide if it is real or nonsense. See that down below:

 

So there are some tips on having socially distant centers in your classroom!

 

If you’ve been running effective centers in your classroom, please let us know your tips down in the comments below!

 

Pin to remember:

 

Setting up a socially distanced classroom? Here are some tips for how to run centers in a K-2 classroom and some ideas for fun individual centers to use!

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