Professional Development

January 20, 2018

7 Ways to Reset Kids During Work Stations

After launching literacy stations and putting procedures in place, they tend to go pretty smoothly. Some days, however, they can get chaotic, especially after a break, a long holiday weekend, or a few days with a substitute. We all have been there! It also happens between station rotations in a single day. Friends, even classrooms with the best planning and procedures will experience times when students need help resetting because kids are kids. You are not alone! When I could sense building chaos during my students’ station time, my guided reading groups would also be impacted. I was distracted and not giving my all to my group. How do you make the most of your little friends’ literacy time and get them back on track? Today I’m sharing a few things I use to reset my kids during literacy stations.

Do your students need redirecting during work stations? Managing work stations can be tricky, but it doesn't have to be! Get your first grade and kindergarten students reset during work stations with these 7 tips!

Use sign language.

Many primary grade teachers use signs for the restroom, but sign language can also be used to refocus students with just a visual cue. The signs for stop, quiet, focus, and no are quick and easy to learn. You can sign to one specific student or a small group without interrupting your guided reading group. Have the student sign it back to you.

Give a quick class pep talk and review the class expectations.

Remind them that as a community, we agreed to follow these expectations so we can all learn together at the same time. Have them read the list of expectations in a whisper voice together. Sometimes just practicing quiet voices brings the noise level back down.

Do a brain break activity.

Physical movements that require students to cross the midline of their bodies help them refocus their brains. For example, take one minute and have students touch their left elbow to their right knee and vice versa. Here is one that was a favorite! 

Act out and model station expectations.

Model specific behavior and expectations for one or two stations where kids are struggling the most. If the kids have been away from stations for a few days, an overview can help remind them of how to successfully and appropriately complete stations.

Do a quick self-check on your stations.

Are they meaningful? Is the difficulty level appropriate? Were all new components explained well? If you think it might be a problem with your stations, this post has some suggestions on how to keep your students on-task during literacy stations. Meaningful stations reduce the craziness.

Practice the stations again as a whole group.

Reintroduce stations and have students practice them. Don’t be afraid to do this because you think it’s wasting time. A few minutes of review can give you back more time with students on task.

Try a color code system.

During stations, the class can start out on a color, for example, green. If it gets too loud or hectic, try changing it to yellow. The students will notice and usually calm down with a visual cue. If it turns to red, you can implement a consequence of silent stations. We called this “Sammy Stoplight” in our classroom and it was at the front of our room!Sammy Stoplight for voice control in the classroom. Perfect to use during literacy centers and in any kindergarten and first grade classroom.

Grab one HERE free!

Try not to get discouraged if your kiddos have an off day. We all do! Taking the time to reset and regroup will make the next rotation, or day, much better. What’s your favorite trick to get students back on track during literacy stations?

Do your students need redirecting during work stations? Managing work stations can be tricky, but it doesn't have to be! Get your first grade and kindergarten students reset during work stations with these 7 tips!

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Happy Teaching,



Want to use the latest research to boost your readers during small groups? This FREE guide is packed with engaging ideas to help them grow!

Hi, I'm Amanda

I’m a K-1 teacher who is passionate about making lessons your students love and that are easy to implement for teachers.  Helping teachers like you navigate their way through their literacy block brings me great joy. I am a lifelong learner who loves staying on top of current literacy learning and practices. Here, you’ll find the tools you need to move your K-2 students forward!


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