I am going to have a moment of honesty with you. Please don’t judge me and I hope you forgive me. But…I HATE stations. Literally hate them. They are chaotic (I don’t do well with chaos). They are a lot of work. They are time consuming to prep.
No matter how many times I train my kids on how to use them correctly, it is inevitable that someone will not use the stations correctly. They don’t put them back away the way they found them. Apparently any station with a marker board apparently is free reign to just draw whatever you want for fifteen minutes. Ugh! They just annoy me.
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But, stations are important. They do provide a fun and engaging break for the kids. Responsibility is easy teach during stations. And, when you need to be out last minute, it’s super easy to let them do stations with a sub.
So now that I have completely won you over with how great stations are, let’s talk about how to organize them!
Each of my station activities are stored in folders. This is an easy way for me to keep all the pieces, papers, directions, etc. together. I then place all of the stations on the same concept in a hanging folder together. The hanging folders go in this crate and this crate is stored under my listening center table.
When it is time to change out my stations, I line up the plastic tubs and empty them out of old games and fill them with new. I have my crate of activities nearby and it is super easy to just go to the folder of whatever we are learning, pull out an activity or two and then grab a few activities from previous concepts we have learned for a review.
I’ve organized stations so many different ways over the years. I started out with just four stations. (I wanted to list them here for you, but I can’t even remember because I have tried it so many ways.) Then I went on to ten different stations with two people at each station and I would rotate them every day. For now I am settled on four main stations, four groups, and a bunch of activities at each station that they can choose from.
The stations are:
Meet with Teacher– Students meet at U-table with me and work on concepts they are needing support with
At Your Seat– Students work on math games/activities at their desk
Technology– Students are on iPads/computers playing various math games. Primarily, prodigy. (This is free and AWESOME! so go check it out.)
Hands On– Students work on math games/activities
The “At Your Seat” and “Hands On” activities are stored here. I have five bins for each station and the students can choose any of the activities from whichever station they are at.
I have spent a fair amount of time on Pinterest looking up math stations and one I recommend checking out is Amy Lemons.
I have also looked up numerous ways to manage stations, and this is what I have come up with that has worked best so far.
A tip I learned a few years back from a friend is to use the nice sheet protector type things (Idk what they are called.) instead of making copies. My first two or three years I was making fifty copies of an activity so they could do it over and over. And #tbh, they went from the turn in basket to the recycle bin. It was such a waste. So now I just put one copy in the plastic sleeve and the kids are able to use it over and over.
I am not super strict on how often I change stations. Sometimes I will do stations three times a week and other weeks I won’t touch the stations. So I judge when it is time to change stations based on my students engagement. When I notice that they are becoming more and more disengaged with the activities (off task behavior, talking, etc.) then I change them. It usually averages out to every three weeks.
It’s always the last thing I do on my to do list because I dread it so much. I don’t know why. I guess the fear of how long it is going to take. Or maybe it is the dread of having to reexplain how to play ten new games. I don’t really know. But really, it doesn’t take me longer than 15 minutes to put the old away and bring out the new.
Stations really are great. I do enjoy them, when they run well. This year I was lucky enough to have a Student Teacher in the fall so literally week two I was able to get my kids in stations and work with others in small group while my ST was able to manage and facilitate the stations.
I would love to hear how you organize your stations. There are SO many ways out there. I talked specifically about my Math Stations, but this could easily be done with literacy stations (which I will talk about next week!) or bilingual centers.
Thanks for reading along. I love getting to share with y’all and hope that it encourages you!
Also, I have a couple students that have repeatedly not followed directions at stations so I have them doing alternative activities during station time. If you are on my email list, be checking your e-mail, I’ll be sending you a copy of it soon! If you are not, go sign up now and I will get you your extra freebie to help manage difficult behaviors! 🙂
You can check out the other posts in my Student Materials Series here:
Until next time,