Every classroom needs literacy centers that allow children to practice reading, writing, speaking and listening. In this post I’ll share centers that allow students to practice these skills and offer you ideas and activities to get literacy centers up and running in your kindergarten, first or second grade classroom!
By now you probably know I LOVE literacy centers! I’ve talked a lot about the benefits of centers, shared tips for planning and organizing, and strategies to keep students on-task. But I realize I’ve missed BIG and important question, which is WHAT should students do in literacy centers?
Literacy stations aren’t for busy work. Instead, they are a valuable chance for students to apply, practice and reflect on skills and strategies you have already taught. So how do you do that?? My advice is to keep it SIMPLE and focus your centers four things:
Today I’m excited to share 5 literacy centers that will allow your students to independently practice those four valuable skills. I’ll discuss why each one is important and leave you with ideas and activities to help you get literacy centers up and running in your classroom!
5 Essential Literacy Centers
1. Word Study Center
Word study is an integral part of literacy instruction. It helps students to develop their reading, writing and speaking skills. You probably already provide direct instruction in word study, but we often underestimate the amount of practice students need to master these skills. Having a word study center is the perfect way to give students the review they need to master the phonics skills you have taught.
When thinking about the types of activities you will use in your word study center, keep it simple and focused on just one skill at a time. For example, if this week you are teaching digraphs, you will first give students direct and explicit instruction on the digraph th. Then that week’s word study center could be a word sort activity where students sort words that have digraph th at the beginning and end of the word.
2. Independent Reading Center
The independent reading center is probably just what you imagine! Students read independently, practice decoding, work on their fluency, and widen their vocabulary.
Sound simple? It is! But it’s also important and meaningful. The ability to read well is a critical skill for academic success, as well as success later in life. Hundreds of correlational studies found that the best readers read the most and poor readers read the least. Having dedicated time for independent reading is so valuable!
To make this center successful make sure students have access to books that are of high interest to them and also at their appropriate independent reading level. Having a “just-right” book will help keep them engaged and on-task!
3. Writing Center
Children are naturally motivated to write at a young age! A writing center is a great way to keep that desire alive! It provides students with the materials, time, and scaffolding they need to independently express themselves.
In a writing center students can write alone or with a partner. They can draft new pieces or continue working on an old one and publish it!
Just like the word study center, this is a place to practice what you have already taught them, not a place to try something new. I love these writing mini-units because they offer students valuable practice in genres I have previously taught. They have everything need to incorporate INFORMATIVE WRITING, OPINION WRITING and NARRATIVE WRITING into your literacy centers!
4. Listening Center
There are so many benefits to a listening center!
Children can listen on a higher language level than they can read. When they just listen to a story they can understand more complex ideas. They are also exposed to vocabulary and language patterns they might not hear in everyday speech.
It also gives students the chance to listen to a fluent reader, without the pressure to decode. This allows them to focus solely on their comprehension.
Finally, listening to books read aloud is an enjoyable and engaging experience for students. It develops their interest in books and desire to be a reader! I think we can agree that anything that helps to instill a love of reading is something we should be doing!
While tape/CD players make an excellent listening center, iPads and computers are also a good option. These days we are lucky because there are so many free reading websites that students can log into and enjoy the experience of being read to by a fluent reader.
Need some resources to freshen up your listening center or just help get it started? These FREE listening center activities are perfect for kindergarten, first or second grade classrooms. They help students deepen their comprehension and make listening to reading an active learning activity.
5. Partner Reading Center
Partner reading is one of the most popular literacy centers in my classroom. Students love reading together and find it highly engaging. I always feel good knowing they are getting time to practice reading strategies, build their fluency and comprehension. They also practice valuable collaboration skills like taking turns and actively listening to one another- always a good thing!!
Partner reading can look a few different ways. They can take turns reading entire books from the book boxes, take turns reading a single text, or even read partner plays together! Kristin from A Teeny Tiny Teacher has written a variety of leveled engaging reader’s theater partner plays (pictured above) perfect for K-2 students. I highly suggest checking out this post and downloading a free set!
I hope the information I’ve shared today will help make planning and implementing literacy centers in your classroom easier for you, as well as give your students more meaningful practice that will deepen their literacy skills!
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