Literacy Centers

Here are links to my Literacy Centers 2013-2014
Part I- Word Work 
Part II- Listening Center 
Part III-Writing Center 


I have changed the way Literacy Centers are organized in my classroom many times. When I first started teaching (1993) my first graders did seatwork, one center, and a reading group. Then we moved to 10 centers-they went to two centers a day and a reading group. That is how I continued it in Kindergarten, but these past few years I have been experimenting and have changed how Literacy Centers are done in my classroom.

It is based loosely on the Daily 5 (looking at what skills help and support reading). I needed to make sure I had centers that were differentiated and provided accountability. The students have a "zone" and all the materials for that center are located in that area. They have many activities at that one center so they basically rotate themselves through the activities and can organize their own time and get the materials they need. My center time is 1 hour and during that time I pull 5 reading groups-I see every child every day.  The students have 3 rotations- they are assigned one center, meet with me at the Teacher Center, and rotate to the computer center.

These are the 5 centers I have, students visit one a day. Each center has a "must-do" (differentiated game with recording sheet) and then "choices". This keeps them engaged the entire time.

1. Pocket Chart/Write the Room- Students are building sentences and recording them. Some students will copy the sentence and some will have some of the words written in and the student writes the words to complete the sentences. Write the Room is a favorite activity! They use the clip board and write the words that are placed throughout the classroom.

2. Writing-students use the picture cards and sentence frames to write and illustrate pages in a book. They have to make the book using the materials provided (construction paper cover, pages with lines, and a stapler). The picture cards are placed in a pocket chart. At the beginning of the year, they just copy a word and illustrate it. Then they begin to  use sentence frames and eventually are able to write sentences using the picture/word cards on their own. The book is the Must-do and the choice is to get any kind of paper provided and write about a topic of their choice. I have the choice posters from Jessica Meacham (letter, card, poem, etc).
It is differentiated by how much/what the student writes and the illustration.

3. ABC Work/Phonics- the students have a must-do which is a differentiated game with a recording sheet. Some students may be working on letter identification, some with beginning or ending sounds, and then short and long vowels. Here are some examples of three different types of games that I would put in the center basket. I have two or three folders in the basket. They are color coded by group so the students know which folder has their work.

The choices they can make after completing the must-do assignment are to stamp pictures and write the beginning sound or write the word (Lakeshore), letter/sound games, letter/sound puzzles, just stamp letters and draw a picture with that sound. I have another three drawer system that has three choices in it for them to choose from.

4. Popcorn Word Work: The students will work with the high frequency words at this center. It is differentiated just like the Phonics center. Each student will get the game and recording sheet from their folder and complete as the 'must-do" and then make choices. Here are some samples of the games I create for this center:

The choice activities at this center are to use wikki sticks on word cards, use the dry erase boards to write the words, use markers to rainbow write the words and use magnets to spell the words.

5. Listening/Reading: At this center, students listen to a book and respond, then read books in the classroom library. There is some differentiation in their listening response and the books they choose to read. The first thing they have to do is to listen to the story. I make my own listening centers using books I purchase at the dollar bins at Target or Dollar Tree. I record me reading the story using Garage Band-podcast-upload to itunes- burn to a CD.
After listening to the story, they write about their favorite part and illustrate it.
The students can just go to the reading center where they can choose to read books, play a game, or use the recording sheets to find words with a certain letter (check out my packets in TpT).

Here is an idea of how to differentiate a stamping center. I used to do one, and sometimes throw one in as a choice. The first one has a dotted font and the students just stamp on top of the letter. 
In this worksheet the second one the students just stamp underneath the word.

Mathematics Centers

They are organized like the Literacy Centers. There are 5 centers to complete for the week and the students visit one center a day. The skills at these centers are different each week, so I do not assign the centers a certain skill that is practiced every week (which is how I organize the Literacy Centers). 
The computers are a center that I use every week for Literacy and Mathematics. The remaining four have must-do activities and then choices. Most of the choices are games that we have played in small group or manipulatives with activity cards (teddy bear counters with patterning cards from PreKinders website, pattern blocks with shape cards that have been purchased, links, geoboards with MTW cards, junk boxes, counting games, etc.).

The must-do's are activities where the students practice these skills. They all have some kind of recording sheet for accountability:
counting on ten frames
counting pictures and recording numbers
matching numerals and number words
figuring out the missing number
patterning-matching and what comes next
spinner activities with recording sheets
writing numbers in order from least to greatest
figuring out which number is greater or less (2 number comparison)
adding with pictures
adding with ten frames
adding with numberline

Basically, I recycle these skills all year and makethe materials and recording sheets.
Some of these were purchased from TpT, but I make most of them.


  1. Thanks for joining my linky party! Your centers are AWESOME! So glad to have found your blog!

    Ѽ Alessia
    Mrs. Albanese’s Kindergarten Class

  2. You are very kind! It sounded like a fun link-up. I can't wait to read other bloggers posts!

  3. These are some fabulous tips, thank you so very much for sharing! Centers time has always felt like the weakest part of my students' day, but not this year, I'm determined! :)

  4. Oh thank you! It takes a lot of time to get those centers ready. I worked really hard on them last year, so I am hoping that I an just put them in the baskets and trays, copy the recording sheets and go home earlier on Friday (and not go back in on the weekend)

  5. This year will be my second year of teaching, and I have been reading books on centers and planning my centers this summer. I am also trying to think about how to differentiate the centers. I LOVE your ideas. I have a question though. How do you introduce the games to the students? I am wondering how to model and explain all the different games to the students, especially since they will be doing differentiated (therefore different) games/activities.

  6. Hi there! The centers that are differentiated are skills hat we have already learned for emerging and on level. The skills for my advanced groups I teach in small group. When beginning these "games" I would do it whole group. Me showing them how to do it, then we would do one together. The way the games are played is the same every week, it is just s different skill for each group of students. I also showed them during small group, too. Surprisingly, they caught on very quickly.

  7. Thanks for a great post! :)

  8. Hi Jennifer, thank you so much for the informative post. I am a first year Kindergarten teacher and really want to get centers like this going in my classroom. How do you pull 5 groups with the children only rotating 3 times?

  9. The students only go to 1 center a day. It has 2-3 activities to do. They never have to rotate, they just move from the different activities when they are ready to move. I call the students over-a different group every 15 minutes. They leave the center and come to the teacher table. When the group is over, they go back to their center.

  10. I must be missing something...5 (15 minute) centers would be over an hour. Are your teachers groups only 10 minutes? LOVE your center ideas! Thank You!

  11. Yes, the 5 centers were 10 minutes. I now do 4 rotations for 15 minutes.


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