Adventures in Literacy Land: Literacy Centers

Showing posts with label Literacy Centers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Literacy Centers. Show all posts

Warm Up with Poetry: Making Your Poem of the Week Valuable

Using a Poem of the Week provides a structure for the lessons and a springboard for centers.
I have done a Poem of the Week for years. The poem helped cover many quick lessons during the introductory week and review lessons in the weeks that followed. The poem of the week were generally chosen or created to integrate another lesson in reading, math, science, or social studies.
More Winter?


Reading Centers: A Couple Ideas

We are in the full swing of literacy centers in my kindergarten classroom.  I'm always looking for new ways to make reading instruction and skill practice exciting for my kiddos.

I downloaded these free CVC/CCVC cards on TpT, but you could use any picture cards to cover skills you are working on. My students use magnetic letters to build the words on a magnetic board.  I purchased the magnetic boards at JoAnn Etc. 3-4 years ago.  I only have 3, so any additional students use a magnetic dry erase board.  They take a photo and upload to the Seesaw app for me to see and to share with their families.  They are excited to use the magnetic letters, and I feel this is something we can use throughout the year to practice many different skills (CVC, CVCe, sight words, etc).


4 Sight Word Strategies for Emergent Readers

I believe in sight words IF they are taught carefully and consistently. Students must have a working knowledge bank of words to help when reading.
I won't drone on about the importance of sight words.  I believe even the earliest learners can be taught to recognize sight words...even before they know the letters.  I, personally, don't want them to think of the words as parts (l, o, o, k).  I need them to think of the words as a whole.

Here are 4 ideas for making sight words (word wall words) meaningful and easy for all students.

1.  Personal Word Walls

In a recent post on Virginia is for Teachers, I talked about personal word walls.  This is a great tool for students.  This personal word wall is Jamie's.  He is a struggling reader and this personal word wall is focused on just the words he has been introduced to through his guided reading lessons.

2.  Sight Word Phrases

Sight word phrases are an easy way to get students to use the words in context, not just in isolation. Having a phrase section on the word wall can help them practice the phrases as they read.  They can use them in writing and in centers.

3. Sight Word Games

Sight word games are a fun way to help the students practice their words.  The Roll-a-Word game can be played independently or as a team.  Independently students can roll the dice and color a square to build  a tower.  When they roll one word enough times to make a tower touch the top, they are done.  Adding a quick tally lesson, the class can tally which words make the tower each day.  At the end of the week, you have have a sight word winner.  If you want it to be a partner game, each student will need a different color crayon.  Each student will roll the dice and color a square with their color.  Whoever colors the square that reaches the top, will be the winner.  The Fluency Races are especially fun.  Students roll the dice and read the column as fast as they can. They have to start over if they mess up, but they think it's fun.

4. Sight Word Centers

Having a sight word component to centers makes the centers strategic, as well as independent.  Each week the Art Center and Poetry Center are the poem of the week from the week before.  The poems are familiar. They circle word wall words and color in yellow.  The ABC Center above was an activity with in/on.  The Dry Erase Center is set up with sight words and phrases.  Students can practice writing.  

CLICK HERE to get a FREEBIE set of Sight Word Activities.


Centers for Upper Elementary Classrooms

Hi, it's Melissa from Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late! I know many of you are winding down your school year at this point. We are in full review mode here in Virginia with state tests right around the corner (3 weeks away - yikes!). With review time, I like to pull out centers for students to rotate through where we can touch on a variety of skills at different times. Here are a few tips for centers that don't take a ton of prep time and are valuable to the students at the same time.

1. Don't underestimate the value of a simple "Read to Self" station. I know it may seem like a cop-out, but studies have proven time and time again that having students read and make their own choices on what books they select is the most effective way to create life-long learners! Maybe have a nice, cozy reading area (if you have that luxury), or just get a few pillows. I just let them choose a place around the classroom. You'd be surprised how excited 4th graders get about reading under their desk. No money spent, and everyone is happy! I would say this is a MUST station, whether you have all children do it at once or include it in your rotations or both.

2. Games are okay! I have some fantastic Reading Comprehension board games from Edupress, and my students love them. We pull them out frequently. Each game includes a set of cards with short passages and multiple choice answers (so basically test-prep). I make the students hold on to cards that they answer correctly to see how well they are doing with the skill. This is an ideal center for this time of year when many students (and teachers) are burnt out on regular test prep passages and practice sets. I actually pull them out even more at this point.

3. Find Reading Centers on TPT or create your own. I have created centers for almost every month, and I print and laminate them to put in colorful folders for students to grab and use throughout the year. Yes, it takes a lot of prep at first (whether it's actually creating them or just putting them together after purchasing), but these are great ways to practice different skills that you are working on throughout the year, and there are TONS of great options online! I like to include a graphic organizer with my centers so I can monitor their progress.

4. Computers/Listen to Reading. It may sound "babyish" to have students listen to reading at this age, but they still love it and can benefit. See if your school has Tumblebooks or check with your local library. I also have used, which has popular picture books read by celebrities. You can also use this time for one of the MANY great websites (free or paid). We just recently started using Raz-Kids, which is well worth the money in my opinion! It has a great selection of short, leveled books for students to read (or even have read to them), and then they answer a few questions about the book at the end. Students can earn points for completing books and questions, and then they get to use the points for fun activities on the website!

5. Last, but not least, make wise choices with your teacher station. You may choose to do small groups or individual conferences. I would do a mix. My station almost never looks the same. During individual conferences, I am usually listening to a student read a book they selected, and then we discuss what they need to work on. However, I also pull students or groups to work on specific areas of weakness. We may go through a reading passage (I like to use, which is free) or read a book together and discuss it. Just make sure it is meaningful!

Of course, there are many other ways to run centers, but I like to stick with a few staples. I would recommend creating a pattern that your students are familiar with so they can settle into a routine quickly and easily!


Word Building...the Foundation That Never Fails!

Hello, this is Cathy from The W.I.S.E Owl.  As you know from my previous posts, I love Kindergarten.  It's the best!  There has been some request for some Kindergarten Word Building Ideas.  I have 3 for you today.

Word Work

I'm not trying to start an argument, but I believe Kindergarten is the MOST IMPORTANT GRADE! Tools provided to the student in Kindergarten are invaluable.  They are truly the foundation for all other skills to be built on.  With this in mind, each lesson is important.  Word Building is the culmination of letters and sounds and their relationship.  Here are 3 ideas for word building that can be done in whole group, small group, and even independent learning centers.
Vowel Posters
We use vowel posters in classroom with yellow backgrounds.  Not only is this visually easy for children to see, it will help with a future activity for word building (you'l see in number 3).
The first, and most supported activity is word building with CVC mats.  These mats are designed to help the earliest learner. These seasonal cards have the CVC picture with the letters at the top of the card.  Students need to rearrange the letters to spell the CVC words with magnet letters, letter tiles, or dry erase markers.  The emphasis is practicing the order of the sounds:  beginning, middle, and end.

Another idea for word building, is practice with CVC word puzzles. This CVC activity supports the student with choice.  The students are still asked to stretch the word and color the beginning, the middle, and the ending sounds.  The colored boxes spell the picture.  To create a clear connection to the classroom vowel posters, students are asked to color the vowel yellow.
Finally, the last activity includes a stoplight.  Students know about a stoplight.  Ask any kindergartner, "What does a red light mean?"  They will confidently tell you "STOP!"  Using that background knowledge, teach them to build words.  When stretching words, make sure you allow them to hear the beginning, middle, and end of the word.  When writing the sound representations, they will write the beginning, middle, and end.  BUT, the true value in Stoplight Writing is the yellow light. Just like we "slow down" for a yellow light, we need to "go slow" with our vowels.  "We have to go slow...they can really trick us."  Once we practice this in a whole group situation, it is put in a CVC center for independent practice.  Stoplight Cards can be laminated or put in pockets to be used with dry erase markers or magnet letters for mastery.

If you would like FREE Vowel Poster Set, CLICK HERE!


Center Survival! Three Keys to Success during Independent Centers

Center Survival! Three Keys to Success during Independent Centers

1.  What is your favorite time of the day?
2.  What is the most crucial time of the day for independent learning?
3.  What is the easiest part of your weekly lesson plans?
4.  What needs to be based on routine, routine, routine? now you know the answer to all of these should be center time.  If it isn't, I hope to convince you to change your mind about centers.  If it is, I hope I can give you at least one new idea to think about and maybe even implement.

I cannot emphasize enough the key to centers is routine. From Day 1.  No excuses.

Set-Up and Classroom Management

This is so very important...your room has to lend itself to independence.  The more independence your child has, the better centers will be.  The set-up of your room and materials cannot be overlooked.  When teachers and I work together to make centers work in their rooms, we make sure center areas are clear.  Each center has a table or group of desks and a designated shelf.  To make sure everyone knows about the center areas, signs are hung from the ceiling.  These signs are universal in the room, as they will be on the shelves, the bucket for materials, and the center board for self-directed centers.  Students know where to get and return materials and where the center rotation takes them.

Center Expectations

Expectations are key.  Students must need to know what is expected or they can't give it to you.  It's that simple.  Centers are NEVER the new skills.  If you want centers to be independent, they must be review skills.  If your lessons are the "I do, we do, you do" method...centers is without a doubt the "you do."  The best method for keeping sanity in the room and sanity in your plans:  CHANGE THE PRODUCT, NOT THE PROCESS.  If the ABC center is practicing rhymes, let them do it for several weeks in a row.  Change the rhymes, but let the exercise for rhymes be the same.  If the word wall word center is a "Read It, Write It" sheet, change the words on the paper, but the process is the same. My poetry center is always the same...just a different poem.  OH, and I forgot to mention, my poetry center and art center are ALWAYS the shared reading poem from the week before. They know it, they don't need help.

Center Self-Monitoring

Finally, students must be taught to self-monitor.  Part of this goes hand-in-hand with expectations.  Students will know what to've covered that!  Students will know how to do've covered that.  The last thing you need to do is let them know what to do when they are done. If you have a teacher assistant, students should be taught to raise their hands and get their work checked.  The TA will look over the work, decide if it's done, then tell them to "stamp it and put it away."  That's right.  Let them stamp their paper and let them file it.  They can's part of their job.  If the student did not complete the assignment or if something needs to be fixed, the TA should ask them to check the example and fix the problem.  Don't get in the habit of telling them how to fix it, they need to do it.  If you don't have a TA during that time, then an additional step must be added.  Students should know to "get a book" or add a "fill activity" (something familiar to fill the time until you are done with a reading group).  You pull a reading group while they work.  When you are done with the group, you rotate and check and move to the next group as they move to the next center.

I could go on and on.  I can talk centers all day...but that's a good start.  Routine is the key!


Literacy Center Organization

Hi everyone!  It's Jennie from JD's Rockin' Readers!  Are you as overwhelmed with school right now as I am?  This time of the year is just crazy!  We are finishing assessments this week and then grade cards go home next week.  Then, it's Parent Teacher Conferences right before Turkey Day!  I am always ready for Thanksgiving Break more than any other break we get throughout the year (except summer of course). 

Today, I am going to share with you how I run my Literacy Centers so that I can work with my Guided Reading groups.  

First off, my teaching partner, Mrs. Kruse, and I do Center Time together.  This picture is from my classroom looking into her classroom. We have sliding doors that we open each day during this time.  Our center block usually lasts between 45 minutes to an hour.  I try to get in 2 or 3 Guided Reading Lessons during this time.



We do three center rotations a day.  We each have four different groups.  All of my groups are a mix of ability levels.  We regulate the time that the students spend at each center activity.  It is usually between 15 and 20 minutes.  Our Listening Center is our guide for how long they are at each center.  We usually put two books at the Listening Center that last about 12-15  minutes total and when that group is finished, then we switch by ringing a bell.  Students know to switch to their next center unless they have not finished their first center.  If they haven't finished, they must finish and then go on to the next center.


This is our Listening Center.  We have the same cards out there as we do on our rotation board.  We use arrows to tell who is in charge of running the center that day.  We have our Listening Center set up  in the hallway right outside of our classroom.  It's nice because we can have them listen to the stories without headphones and Mrs. Kruse can still see their every move from her Guided Reading table.

We do a mix of Daily 5 and regular Literacy Centers.  For our Work On Writing center, we just have the students get their Writing Workshop folder out and they get extra time that day to work on whatever writing they are doing during Writing Workshop.  


These centers are kept in Mrs. Kruse's room.  All of the materials needed for these centers are in this storage container.  We usually have two different options for Spelling Words and Sight Words.  They have a list of their spelling words in their Center Folder to use (this is also where we put any paper/pencil work for the week).  At the end of the week, I take a quick glance to make sure they are completing their work.  I staple it together and send it home.  Our weekly sight words are on a pocket chart in the classroom for them to use as a reference when they go to the Sight Word center.  Our Word Work center is usually an activity that helps the students practice the phonics skill that we are working on that week.  For example, this week we are doing a WH write the room activity.  This also goes along with the skill on our spelling test this week.


The Poetry Center is kept in my room.  The poem that we use each week is one that we have read everyday the week prior to putting it into the center.  The students are very familiar with the poem and can read it on their own.  They put the poems into their Poetry Notebook and have some sort of activity to go with it.  (Sometimes we have parent helpers help with this center).  Most of the poems I use come from Jane Loretz.  She has MANY different Interactive Poetry Centers for sale in her store.


We also have an iPad center.  At this center, the students are allowed to go to different reading apps that we have on the iPads.  Our ultimate goal is to have them using and reading books from their Raz-Kids account- but it isn't set up yet:(  It should be very soon though!  I can't wait for them to be able to be reading books at their level during this time.

During our Read to Self time, students are allowed to choose whose room they want to go and read in.  We built up our stamina at the beginning of the year and they do a nice job with getting their browsing box and reading to themselves.

During our Read to Someone time, students meet in the middle of the two rooms (where the doors open) and raise their hand.  This means they are looking for a partner to read with.  We allow students to read with another student from either room.

Here are some fun Sound/Letter Boxes that you can use during your Guided Reading Lessons!

I LOVE having this time to work with my kiddos at their reading level.  We can get so much accomplished during this time by using The Ultimate Guided Reading Toolkit that I made.  It makes planning a breeze and the activities are fun and effective:)  

If you are interested in purchasing The Ultimate Guided Reading Toolkit, try to get your school to purchase it by using this FREE download explaining the product to your principal.  It also includes directions on how to purchase with a School Purchase Order.  Multiple licenses are at a reduced cost.  What do you have to lose??  

I'm sure I haven't covered everything, but I know I am always interested in how others set up their room and their Literacy Centers.  I am happy to answer any other questions that you might have:)