Written by: Angie Olson

Teaching math and literacy in the primary grades involves a lot of tools and papers, especially in your centers. So how do we organize our math and literacy centers? The key to effective center planning is top-notch math center organization of all your materials.

Download your free 1st grade and 2nd grade scope and sequence by clicking on your desired grade level.

Whether you’re organizing centers or manipulatives, we at Lucky Little Learners want you to be able to flow through your math and literacy centers with ease!

how to organize math and literacy centers

This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By purchasing an item on the Amazon site using these links, I will receive a small commission on your purchase.

Organize Centers with Stellar Storage

As teachers, we try to be as organized as possible.  It makes the prep time easy and quick. There are so many wonderful storage options out there for your math centers that will save you time and sanity.

How to Organize Manipulatives

There are so many manipulatives! I store all of my math manipulatives in plastic containers that I got from Walmart.  You can also get them from Amazon.  You are able to see what’s inside of them without having to open them.  There are also labels that fit nicely on the outside so you can quickly grab and go.

Here are some links for my favorite plastic bins!

Grab these wonderful Math Tub Labels to help bring a bit more organization to your math center manipulatives!

transparent tubs for storing math manipulatives

How to Organize Centers

When it comes to organizing task cards, worksheets, recording sheets, and more, we have you covered on storage options! These are great for your students to grab and go as they tackle their centers and for every activity to have a place.

store math centers in file folders

As you read through the ways that you can store your math centers check out these amazing centers and puzzles that will truly make your students eager to learn and you ready to store.

Plastic Bags

A great option that will save you some money in your teacher wallet is a plastic bag. When organizing your math centers this is a great option to grab and reuse for those manipulatives, task cards, directions and recording sheets, as well as any other fun items you may need for your center!

plastic bags for easy storage of math centers

This is a perfect way for your students to grab and go for independent work during math or literacy lessons as well.

Envelopes to Grab and Go

Another affordable option for organizing your math centers is to use file envelopes. These will fit any normal size sheet of paper and so you can add your center’s directions right to the front or slip it inside with the recording sheets as well. Plus they can also be laminated for long-lasting durability! This is a great way to also store those task cards so your students can go and grab their center and take it with them all in one neat storage space.

math center games stored in large envelopes

The Colorful Iris Containers

If there is one storage container at Lucky Little Learners that is iconic in our storage use it would be the Iris Containers. Whether you purchase them from Michael’s or Amazon these containers are great for Toothy Task cards. There is no question your Toothy Centers will be stored and ready to go with these colorful containers.

iris photo containers for math center storage

Have you not tried out our Toothy Math Centers yet? These are the perfect addition to your lessons to help your students meet those math standards! Learn more about why Toothy is such a game-changer in the classroom in this post here and check out our Toothy math centers!

12 X 12 Project Case

If you are looking for an option that can store multiple copies of a center in one neat place then the 12×12 project case is a great choice! It can fit nearly 10 centers into the case and it’s all closed up and ready to store! This can be great to use to store centers by month, holiday, or theme! Your centers can be placed inside with a folder or a plastic bag. Then you are ready to grab them during the right season and use them as needed!

12 x 12 project cases for math center storage

File Folders

File folders are a tried and true option that is inexpensive and great for storage. A lot of teachers have in their classrooms a filing cabinet that has been there since we moved in. If not then a quick file folder organizer is a great option! This is great for papers that you need for students to take with them, or for papers that need to be turned in at the end of centers.

math center storage with tubs envelopes and file folders

Rolling Cart

When organizing math centers a rolling cart is a great way to have a spot that students know to go to each day to receive their center work. Whether the drawers are numbered or labeled your students can find papers, file folders, or plastic bags with all they need safely tucked in the drawers.

rolling carts for math center storage

Sterilite Drawers

Sterilite drawers are an excellent investment in your math center storage. They are sturdy and will last for years to come. Even better we have the labels in our math center bundles you will be able to find your monthly centers with ease! These are great with your centers stored inside in folders or bags. They can fit anything from your task cards to worksheets!

sterilite drawers for monthly math center storage

Binders

Binders are the perfect storage solution for short text! You can organize your reading passages by comprehension skill, which makes it SO easy to find the passage you need when you’re teaching a particular skill! Take your organization one step further and color code your binder labels for nonfiction (orange) and fiction (yellow). These labels are included FREE when you download our 2nd grade reading passages bundle.

binder storage for comprehension reading passages

Storing Unfinished Work

How do you keep track of unfinished work in your classroom? When it comes to the hustle and bustle of daily center time, it can be hard to keep kids accountable for any work that wasn’t completed. Here are a few easy to implement options for handling unfinished work in the classroom:

  1. If you have tables, you can put a two-tiered basket in the center and train your students to keep their unfinished work on the bottom shelf.
two tiered basket shelf for storing unfinished work in the classroom

2. Hang file folder- sized pocket charts and assign each student their own pocket to store unfinished work.

file folder sized pocket chart for storing unfinished work in the classroom

3. Student Mailboxes would be another fantastic way to store unfinished work from center time.

student mailbox shelves for storing unfinished work in the classroom

Ways to Organize ALL Your Seasonal Center Activities

The last thing you want to do is dig for a particular activity you want to use during center time for 20 minutes, then have to re-prep when you can’t find it!

You can organize by…

  • skill
  • unit
  • standard
  • month
  • season
  • holiday

Or, you can combine multiple methods! How about organizing by skill AND month?

There are times you might want to pull an activity that matches a particular holiday – so having your activities organized by month is great! (Maybe you have large tubs for each month.) BUT.. you can go a step further and you could store activities in file folders or baggies inside the tubs labeled with the skill kids will be practicing.

However you choose to organize your center materials, when you have storage solutions, you will be able to spend more time doing what you love and less time in a mess of materials!

More Info on Getting Your Centers Up and Running

Everything You Need to Know About Math Centers

Second Grade Classroom Set Up

2nd Grade Schedule

How to Set Up Centers

2nd Grade Centers: Launching & Management

Flexible Groups in Math

Math Center Activities

Center FAQs & Answers

SHOP THIS POST

Math Tub Labels

1st Grade Math Centers

2nd Grade Math Centers

SHOP THIS POST

Math Puzzles

Math Task Cards

toothy task kits

Toothy Task Kits

ways to organize math centers

13 Comments

  1. Jasmin

    Question: When you are creating your math centers do you make a certain number of the same activity? For example: 4 students in a group with 4 individual activity folders or 4 students in a group with 2 activity folders and they work together? I find that getting the centers together is very consuming but I don’t want to over do it or under do it either.

    Reply
    • Bailey Jordan

      ​Hi Jasmin! We would love to help you with this question, please email us at customerservice@luckylittlelearners.com and we will do our best to answer it for you! Thanks so much!

      Bailey J.
      Lucky Little Learners

      Reply
  2. Trish Sisk

    Hello there
    First. you are simply amazing! You have made it so much easier for me to spend more time teaching than prepping.
    I was wondering if the Day to Day Grammar Activities comes in 1st Grade?

    Reply
    • Bailey Jordan

      Hi Trish!
      Thanks so much for reaching out! As of now we only have Grammar Day by Day for 2nd grade but we will add this idea to our list of potential products for the future. Thanks again and have a great day!

      Bailey J.
      Lucky Little Learners

      Reply
  3. Kristy

    Hi!

    In the video you mention free labels for the math manipulative bins. I wasn’t able to find those. Are you able to attach them? Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Bailey Jordan

      ​Hi Kristy! We would love to help you with this question, please email us at customerservice@luckylittlelearners.com and we will do our best to answer it for you! Thanks so much!

      Bailey J.
      Lucky Little Learners

      Reply
  4. Karen M Sprouse

    Hi Angie,

    Do you have an Amazon shopping page? I thought you did before, but I cannot find it.

    Thank you,

    Karen

    Reply
  5. Aimee Eckroth

    Can you tell me where you bought the two tier baskets?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Bailey Jordan

      ​Hi Aimee! We would love to help you with this question, please email us at customerservice@luckylittlelearners.com and we will do our best to answer it for you! Thanks so much!

      Bailey J.
      Lucky Little Learners

      Reply
  6. Patti

    Thanks for the ideas, it has me thinking of what will work out best in my classroom. I currently use some of them already, but always looking for new ways to store things.

    Reply
  7. Krista

    I’ve purchased most of your toothy kits but I love the labels pictures above that go on the side of the boxes. This works well with storing them on a shelf. Do you have anything like this available? I know the ones that come in the kits have a nice label for the front of the box. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Bailey Jordan

      ​Hi! We would love to help you with this question, please email us at customerservice@luckylittlelearners.com and we will do our best to answer it for you! Thanks so much!

      Bailey J.
      Lucky Little Learners

      Reply

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Welcome, I’m Angie!

Hello there! I’m Angie Olson- a teacher, curriculum developer, educational blogger and owner of Lucky Little Learners.

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