Ticket to Centers

Hi friends!

Many of you have asked  me  how I “manage” my library centers.  I sense that you’re a little disappointed when I say that I don’t really “manage” them. I allow for free choice within the occupancy limit of each center. And that works for me.

For those of you who crave more structure, I’m sharing this video that I think will really help you out. It’s from Greg Smedley-Warren, a kindergarten teacher in Tennessee and a top seller on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Here’s what I love about his system:

1) He has a “must do” that is each student’s ticket to centers. In the library, this could be writing a book review, or a specific exit ticket from the large group lesson.

2) When it’s time to clean up, he doesn’t say a word. He starts the music on the computer, and the students know to start cleaning up.

3) He has students grouped by a 4-color wheel. This would work for the many classes we have in the library. You could divide each class into groups by placing colored dots on their library cards (or shelf markers, or whatever they use to check out). Then you could just move the color wheel at the start of a new week, and the groups in every class would rotate to a new center.

4) I like that within each color assignment, students have a choice of 2 activities. I believe that choice is highly motivating for all of our students, and classroom teachers rarely provide as much choice as we can in the library.

What do you think? For those of you that want to structure your library centers, would this work for you?

Library Learners Cari signature


  • Cari Signature

    Similar Posts


    1. I wanted a little bit of structure in my centersto keep students from wandering aimlessly, so here is what I did. My students have assigned tables, and each week the center they can go to is posted beside their table’s color.if they don’t want to go to that center, they can always choose to have a seat and read, write a book review,or color a bookmark. My assigned centers are pretty basic and easy-computers, puzzles, board games, etc. I hope to add some other centers so maybe each table would have two choices, but I haven’t gotten that far yet.

    2. Centers have been a life-saver for me. I have a very small library, very little technology, and some very energetic kids! I’ve been using centers for my 4th graders since last winter. It has really helped with classroom management. My students need a lot of structure; I have a chart with each center (no more than 4 students at each center); each class period I instruct the student which center to go to and check it off. That keeps students from “hogging” the really popular centers or wandering aimlessly from center to center and never finishing. I’m still tweaking my system and centers, Right now, it’s only for 4th graders, but I will probably add 3rd grade next year.

        1. Last month, centers focused on Black History and Presidents. Centers included: Famous Black Americans Word Search; Famous Black Americans coloring sheets; book reviews of books about black history and presidents, a jigsaw puzzle of Abraham Lincoln, bookmarks (those were Valentine-themed), and the computer center, which was an interactive site about the Underground Railroad. The word search, coloring sheets, bookmarks, and book review template were all found online. I collected the word search and coloring sheets–the teachers are taking a grade on them. In the past, I’ve used lots of Cari’s ideas…Discovery Bottles were a huge hit, and the Shelf Talkers worked great for some of my “artistic” kids. Next month will focus on Dr. Seuss.

            1. Almost everything you need for Dr. Seuss centers are available at seussville.com Last year, I came up with what (I thought) was a brilliant idea to save paper. I laminated word searches, crossword puzzles and a few other worksheets, fastened them together with a ring, and gave the kids dry erase markers to do them. I learned that some of did not actually do the work (they were supposed to bring the puzzles to me to check)…and they “forgot” and erased it before I could see it. So this year, they will put pencil to paper and turn in their work. (The Lorax would be so unhappy with me!). I also bought a Dr. Seuss memory game at Toys R Us. Surprisingly, 4th graders enjoyed playing it.

    3. Hi Cari! I’m one of those librarians who needs more “management” to track where students go each week. Plus, my district wants more “data” on my instruction. So I made a list of some centers/topics that are required for students to complete (with multiple centers that can fulfill the requirement). I listed all the centers in a centers guide or menu booklet, and I stamp the booklet each library class so that students know which centers they’ve completed and which ones they still need to do. I write down who goes where as well, but that might be overkill for some librarians. It helps me notice who’s “reading independently” all the time and not doing any of the more learning-focused centers. I like the idea of music to clean-up though. I might use that!

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.