Ever wonder why setting up centers is so hard? It can be time consuming and the kids make a mess of the materials. Maybe you spend so much time planning the centers you have no time or energy left to plan other parts of your day. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some ideas for writing centers that are easy to put together and don’t require a lot of preparation.
Before you begin, it’s good to keep in mind that each center needs to be modeled for students. Some can be modeled in less than a minute, and some will take longer. But if you really want your centers to run smoothly, always set the expectation and explain how to use it. One way to do this is to create a chart with the expectations for the center. For instance, 1. Work quietly. 2. Take care of materials. 3. Clean up after yourself.
Being proactive like this will make your centers run smoothly and keep you sane. With that being said, here are 9 ideas for writing centers.
Idea One: Journal Writing
Journal writing is an easy activity to use in a center and it can be used to assess students’ growth in writing ideas, grammar, phonics,etc. Just provide a journal to each student. Give students a question or prompt to answer in their journals. Provide them with other resources that will allow them to be independent. For example, high frequency words, editing charts, or picture dictionaries. Think of what your students will need in order to let you work with small groups or whatever it is you’re doing. This writing office is a great example of a tool students can use to work independently.
Idea Two: Postcards and Letter Writing
Your students will love this center, especially if you have a mailbox to put their postcards and letters in. Gather some postcards to make a quick writing center. Show the students the parts of a postcard and explain that people send them to others to tell about places they’ve been or to just say hi. Have 5″ x 7″ pieces of construction paper, crayons, and pencils available for students to use. Also put some sheets of paper and a friendly letter anchor chart in the center and kids can write letters, too. To further create an independent center, include a writing office as a tool for students to use as they’re writing. This way your students can problem solve on their own.
Idea Three: Sentence Building
Have student practice the conventions of writing with this center. Write a sentence on a sentence strip, cut it into individual words, and done! You can also use colored sentences strips and color code by subject/predicate or subject/verb/adverb. It’s up to you and a great way to integrate writing practice into your centers. Leave whiteboards or paper at the station for kids to write the sentences after they’ve been built. Include an editing checklist with the materials for students to check for punctuation, spaces, and capitalization. You can find an editing chart in the writing office found in Idea One.
Idea Four: Word Walls
Word walls can take a bit more time to assemble, but they can be used for weeks, months, or the whole year depending on the word wall. Monthly word walls with a theme offer kids many ways to practice their writing. They can use the word wall to write letters, stories, directions, labeling, and the list goes on. The words offer a scaffold and give kids the support they need. There are a variety of activities your students can do and it’ll keep their attention.
Idea Five: Draw and Label
Leave out blank sheets of paper for kids to draw pictures and label. This center gives students the chance to add details by looking at the parts that make the whole. If your students use the sketch and label strategy in their writing, this will give them practice on this skill. Here is a fun resource of drawing and labeling pictures found on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Idea Six: Paragraph Writing
This center might sound a little scary at first, but some of the best centers come from concepts you have taught and can now be practiced independently. Read this post for more valuable information about paragraph writing. Once your kids are familiar with paragraph writing, it can become a center that can be used all year long. Students begin by cutting out the details of a main idea and gluing them in the main idea web. Then your students use the main idea to write a main idea sentence. After that, they use the detail bubbles to write 3 detail sentences. Finally, your kids will add a conclusion and they’ll have a 5 sentence paragraph.
Idea Seven: Handwriting
Easy, easy! Keep handwriting books or just sheets of paper available and have students practice writing letters and words. If you really want to get your students excited, leave out some fancy pencils or pretty pens. At the end of the week, have your students look for their favorite letters and have them show off their handwriting to a friend.
Idea Eight: Comics
Your students will love these! Have this paper available to students and they will enjoy writing stories using comic book paper. They can practice storytelling, spelling, punctuation, and drawing all in one activity. You might find that some students want to create an entire book. In that case, have plenty of paper ready!
Idea 9: Write the Room
Write the Room gets kids up and moving. Students simply get a sheet of paper, walk the room, and find the hidden words that have been stapled or taped to the walls and furniture. The words can be sight words, parts of speech, contractions, or even sentences. There are many resources available on Teachers Pay Teachers, but you can also make your own pretty quickly. You will need index cards or paper cut into index card size, a pen, and a stapler or tape. Write what you would like kids to practice writing on the cards, hide (not too hard) around the room, and let kids find and write them.
Remember managing and preparing centers doesn’t have to be a challenge. Make it easy on yourself and try out these ideas for writing centers. Your kids will practice writing and working independently. It’s a win-win!
Don’t forget to get your writing office here.