Literacy Centers and the Common Core

I love using centers in my classroom. I love how my little friends get so excited to see what we are doing. However, I do not love how much time it takes to come up with centers, prep the centers and set them all up. So, over the years, I've ended up settling on a few centers that I just rotate through with a little variety based on themes, seasons, materials used, etc. The centers I use with my little friends all address the Common Core Standards which is one reason that I keep repeating what I'm using! I think centers are a great way to ensure that students are practicing what they have learned while working in a more interactive, engaging manner. So...here are a few general ideas for literacy centers to use throughout the year- hope you find something to add to your rotations! 

Reading: Literature & Informational Texts

In CCSS, whether reading literature or informational text, the main purpose of all the standards is that students are reading and responding to what they are reading. The key to this for me is students MUST be reading and responding every single day! This can be done in a variety of formats- you read a book to students, students read on their own, read with a partner, listen to reading, etc. No matter what format you choose, students just must be reading to become better readers. After they have read, they should then be responding to what they read. I personally love using graphic organizers with my little friends because it gives them a chance to both draw and write. Plus, they can be done on their own in centers- you don't have to be right there with them. Graffiti tables are also a lot of fun for kids because it is just a huge excitement to "draw" on a table! :)

I also love using post its...especially on our story map.  My little friends draw a picture or write on the post it and then stick it on the right spot on our story map.  Afterward, you can always refer back to the story map with your students and discuss the text. Next year, I think I'm going to create a Story Map that is more specifically for Informational Text for my little friends to use as well.

I also make sure to include comfy options- pillows, carpets etc, make reading that much more enjoyable for students. And of course, magnifying glasses or any little object that will keep students engaged while reading is a worthwhile thing to include as party of your center materials.

Foundational Skills

Foundational skills are a major part of our centers for the entire year because really the concepts addressed within the CCSS in this section are so important to develop little readers. FCRR has lots of center options, including the ABC Arcs shown below. I also use our magnetic letters and board to practice any type of skill. Bingo chips also make finding letters exciting. :)

If you have them, iPads, are so wonderful for keeping kids engaged. I usually include some sort of hands on activity within the iPad centers so they are doing something first and then following up on the iPad- making words, searching for vowels, etc. Puzzles are also great for little learners- I have a variety of puzzles that cover so many different topics that we have gone over and my friends love using them.

Again...I try to make centers fun! I love using our colorful buckets for any sort of sorting centers- I use sorts ALL the time with my friends. We focus on digraphs, blends, sight words, word families, etc in the sorts- I generally always follow the same format with my sorts, so each time I'm just focusing on what type of words they will be looking for rather than managing how the center is run. Also, my phonemic awareness basket is full of all sorts of materials so that I can switch up what we are using often, but keep the content we are covering consistent.

Writing
Of course this depends on the grade level you teach, but with CCSS Writing Standards, basically students need to be writing different types of texts and incorporating a variety of details.  This starts with labels for early kindergarten and moving on to actual sentence/story writing as they progress.

One of the keys here for me is that students are practicing writing every.single.day (just like reading!). To keep this exciting for my students, I just include a variety of materials, such as- labeling pictures, writing on white boards, using fun scrapbook paper, responding to prompts, responding to pictures and using sight words to make sentences.

Thanks to Hazel Owl, Lovin' LitZip-a-Dee Doo-Dah Designs for all the fun graphics!
One of my goals for this upcoming school year is to make sure I am addressing the CCSS Standards within Speaking & Listening and Language. There are a lot of important points within those standards, so I'll be working on incorporating those daily next year!

Have a great day!
Aylin


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