Socially Distanced Reading Centers

These socially distanced reading centers allow students to engage in meaningful literacy station work while maintaining safety & distance. Learn how you can easily implement them in your classroom today! Make sure to download a free socially distant reading center in the post!

When I started hearing talk about what it would look like to return to the classroom for in-person instruction and how students would have to maintain social distance, my head began to spin!  I had so many questions and concerns!  How will this work?  What will it look like?  Will students follow suit??  And a big concern….. How on Earth will CENTERS work??!!

Literacy centers have always been a large and important part of the day in lower grade classrooms.  While I know we’d certainly love for students to have the “normal” center experience where they work with partners at a writing center, share materials, touch all the books, etc. the reality is it is not going to look that way this year, and possibly not for a few more years to come. 

With all of this in mind I spent some time brainstorming solutions to ensure that students can still engage in meaningful centers while maintaining their social distance.   

Today I’m eager to share with you a great list of engaging and SOCIALLY DISTANCED READING CENTERS and show you how you can easily use them in your classroom!  

Establishing Routines for Safety

Student health and safety has always been our #1 priority but in this time of COVID-19 it is of utmost importance.  In order to ensure these centers run safely it is absolutely necessary to TEACH, MODEL and have your students PRACTICE routines and procedures for safety.  

The procedures you set into place may depend on your students and your classroom set-up but I thought they could include: 

-Teaching students to properly sanitize materials after use. 

-Teaching students to place used materials and books in a “quarantine” or “used materials” bin. 

-Teaching students how to gather the materials they need and work only in their personal work space.  Teach them what that space looks like and feels like! 

-Creating a bin of personal materials students can keep at their seat. (this may include a whiteboard marker, eraser, erasable sleeve that they can easily slip a center worksheet in and out of).  

Once you have a clear plan for how you’ll ensure the health and safety of your students, you can begin to introduce them to the following reading centers!!  

Socially Distanced Reading Centers  

Adopt A Pet Reading Buddy

The Adopt a Pet Reading Buddy resource makes the perfect socially distanced “read-to-someone” center activity!  Instead of reading to a human partner, students will “adopt” a stuffed pet that will become their reading buddy!  You can purchase a small stuffed animal for them (ideas HERE) or they can choose a favorite animal that they already have at home. 

socially distanced literacy centers

Students set goals for how much time they will spend reading with their buddy and track their progress using the reading logs included in the resource. 

In addition to reading, students will be encouraged to discuss with their pet buddy, draw and/or write about what they have read in a variety of different ways!  

I’ve created a resource that includes EVERYTHING you will need to set up and manage the pet adoption center!  You’ll get an editable letter to go home to parents, pet name tags, two versions of adoption applications, three versions of reading logs, goal setting sheets, a variety of reading response printables and MORE!  With all the choices and different versions available, you can be sure students of all levels will be successful and enjoy reading with their pet!  

This is a reading center activity that feels like it was made for social distancing!  You won’t need to make any changes or tweaks to it!  

Write the Room 

My Write the Room Differentiated Sentences is another literacy center that feels like it was made for social distancing!  Students simply grab their own clipboard and move around the room looking for sets of sentences that match the picture on their recording sheet.  You’d just have to post the sentences appropriately around the room to ensure students remain distanced from each other.  

I teach my students to be accountable for picking the “good fit” sentence that they are able to read independently. After reading and recording the sentences, students practice rereading the sentences to strengthen fluency skills.  

This is a very low-prep reading center activity that kids can do all year long!  

Download a FREE sample of these Write the Room Activities to try with your students by clicking the image below!

Read and Sequence

These sequence of events reading passages will help your students learn to identify and describe the sequence of events while reading! Students will read a passage, sequence the events of the story, and answer comprehension questions describing the events in the reading passage.

This center is easy to keep safe and distanced!  You would just have to make copies of one of the 12 black and white sequence of events worksheets.  Students would then read the copied passage, cut & sequence the pictures, and answer reading comprehension questions!   

They can always practice using the DIGITAL VERSION of this center and then all they need is a device! 

Sentence Building Activities 

The Sentence Building Center is a hands-on literacy center that will keep students engaged all year long!  They build seasonally themed sentences with word cards, write the sentences out and then edit them using a checklist. Students can then practice building fluency by reading it to themselves! 

With 2 versions (emergent and early fluent) of each sentence, this center is easily differentiated!  It both supports and challenges students while building confidence and mastery!  

To help ensure students do not share materials you can simply make copies of the words students use to build the sentences and they can just dispose of them when they are done!  

There is also a digital version of the center so students can easily complete it independently on a computer or device!  

Nursery Rhymes Poetry Center

The Nursery Rhymes Poetry Center (BUNDLE) includes 22 poems that your students will love to independently build and read over and over again!  

You can make copies, print and cut for single use or laminate the materials and teach your students to wipe them down after each use, or place their used materials in a “quarantine bin”.  Whichever way you decide, you’ve got yourself an engaging literacy center activity to use year after year!

Listen to Reading

In some classrooms, teachers have been asked to remove books. 😭 If you are able to keep books for a classroom library, consider a “book quarantine” bin that your students can deposit books in after they finish reading the books. A great idea would be for students to choose several books for the week to keep in their book boxes, then quarantine them over the weekend.

If physical books are not allowed, listening to reading is a good option. It allows students exposure to more complex themes, higher-level story vocabulary, and the chance to hear models of fluent reading.  There are wonderful FREE online resources that allow students to listen to (and read!) books online!  

free reading website list for kids

All students need for this center activity is a pair of their own headphones and access to a computer or device!  

I hope the information and resources I’ve shared today will help you see that having students engage in meaningful reading centers CAN happen, even in the socially distanced classroom!  

Be on the lookout for my next post where I will share a great list of socially distanced WRITING CENTERS!

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