These literacy work station ideas will provide you with plenty of inspiration, save you time and help you plan meaningful learning experiences for the children in your care.
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Literacy centres or literacy centers (if you live in other parts of the world) are a perfect way to have young children practice those early literacy concepts that have already been taught in class. One of my mentor teachers used literacy centres regularly in her classroom and the children were throughly engaged. Since then I've used centres in each classroom I've been in.
You can see our other posts here, here and here. Not just for class, some of these literacy activities can easily been done at home to help your child learn to read and write.
Obviously the activities change depending on the age, abilities and mix of children. Each rotation always incorporating some key focus areas - syllables, rhyme, beginning letter sounds, CVC words, letter recognition, sight words and developing vocabulary. They often have other skills (fine motor, co-operative or physical) built in to them as well. Every activity is designed to last between 15-20 minutes each for 3-6 children.
LETTER RECOGNITION + ALPHABETICAL ORDER
This activity was quick to make. The alphabet printable and river rocks I had at home. I just had to write on the river rocks. I have written lower case letters only using a black Sharpie/permanent texta.
At the start, a basket with all the rocks goes in the middle of the group and I give each child a lower case alphabet to match the rocks to. The rocks are very tactile and inviting. This literacy station works to build their letter recognition and one-to-one letter matching skills.
To extend this activity, after completely matching the lower case letter set, I give them an upper case card and ask them match the letters again, this time matching lower case to upper case.
For any early finishers, I then get them to tell me which lower case and upper case letters are the same - Cc Oo Ss Uu Vv Ww Xx Zz.
One activity that my co-teacher had planned worked really well for alphabetical ordering. No photos sorry but I can tell you... It involved using the word wall which was situated at child height along a side wall in the classroom. All the words had been taken off and placed in a tray and then the children had to put them back up in alphabetical order which worked perfectly for those words that they had to look to the second or even third letter to order correctly. Again, this activity was reinforcing something the students had done in class so most could do it without teacher support.
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A couple of years ago I came across these wheels from Confessions of a Homeschooler. I like them because you can swap the upper for lower or for initial sounds easily to suit individual children. Working with pegs is a great fine motor strengthening activity too.
RHYMEI've used these rhyming cards a few times from K-3 Teaching Resources. The download makes 4 good sized sets but you could make them into smaller sets if you had more children than that in a group or wanted less cards for them to try and differentiate between. I like them because they work like a jigsaw puzzle to help support children learning to rhyme.
WORD WORKLiteracy centres also offer opportunities for children to practice work from class. Learning parts of speech or grammar concepts can easily and effectively be incorporated to literacy stations.
This past term I've created these different activites for centres. In our Parts of Speech Sort students had to work together to sort the words written onto the pop sticks
into three groups - verbs, nouns or adjectives.
In another literacy centre we focused on syllable sorting another day. You can do this with young children by sorting familiar objects or with older children, spelling words can be targeted.
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Another day we used this free printable I made to compare letters, sounds and syllables.
This station used a fun paint chip hack to create composite or compound words. The colours made it easier for the less confident readers to be able to put the words together. Lots of fun this one and as homework, some students wrote their own lists and challenged other members of their families to think of more.
Another activity that my children enjoyed at home too was charades. I made up the picture cards which was harder that I thought as I was trying to choose words that could be acted out easily enough while also being easy enough for students to read.
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SIGHT WORDSI always try to include an activity using sight words or also referred to as tricky or high frequency words. This was another easy and cheap activity to make using some coloured pop sticks and some printed sight words that we had been introducing in class.
For the work station, the children had to read the word and then sort them correctly.
I've also used a 'Write, Stamp, Decorate' sheet as a centre. I haven't met a child yet who doesn't like stamping! I like these lowercase alphabet stamps as children can see where their lettter is meant to sit on the paper. They also work well in playdough too as another centre activity.
Another activity that always proves popular is Sight Word Swat. Great one for active learners! One person calls out a word while the others have to slap it with their fly swats. Best attempted when you have another person in the room as the play can get very enthusiastic at times. This can be altered to just use individual letters for children just learning to read.
We used our flower shaped Jolly Phonics cards but I love this version too maybe it's the Aussie in me. I will be trying to make some anyhow.
Building sight words is a great way for children to learn patterns in words. We've used these glass gems to build sight words but they can be used for other words too.
PHONOGRAMSI've done a lot with phonograms. Quite often I'll use computers for independent sound work. A few great websites perfect for working on letter sounds -
Spell a Picture
I also use a number of resources I'd printed from Early Learning HQ. Like these Bingo cards. There are several different sets depending on what stage readers you have.
I love their phonogram cards too. I printed two copies and then used them to play games of Memory.
They've also proved useful as prompts for sorting. Could be just by phonograms (sound) or sort them into beginning, middle or end of word sounds.
I've made whole lot of picture cards particularly for digraphs and diphthong sounds. I created them like 3 stage Montessori cards so vary the ways they can be used in literacy stations.
I've also created some photo CVC cards which fit our wall pocket charts. They are perfect for adding to our play dough for the children to make the words.
We had used the same cards for a whole class activity sorting them by their middle short vowel sounds but I have also used them in a centre to help reinforce this concept.
We also matched those words that rhymed. Developing an understanding of rhyme is so important to pre-readers and writers. I've made games to play that use rhyme to help support young children's growing understanding of sounds..
'Mouse, mouse, are you in the (blue/red/green/pink?) house?'
STORY TELLING + WORK ON WRITINGSome of our activities might be based around retelling a familiar book. These centre ideas were based around an author study we were doing. This one is from Room on the Broom by Julia Donalson and Axel Scheffler. At this stage, children are mostly asked to draw their ideas and are encouraged to label their picture. Being able to float between groups can allow you to ask a child to explain their thinking to you for you to be able to do the recording for them.
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With this centre based around the book 'Room on the Broom' by Julia Donaldson, the students had to sort the cards into order and could also re-enact the story using the puppets. I love using puppets for storytelling.
Other activities might encourage students to tell their own stories. I love theTell Me a Story Cards from eeBoo and Rory's Story Cubes.
I've also made a simple set of story cards for homework.
Using story stones also works well as a prompt for writing work. Here the students created their own small world during play and then told or wrote a short story based on their play.
I've also used other writing prompts in centres like providing students with stickers to tell then write their stories with. In another centre we use a story telling basket to play with for the first five minutes before encouraging students to write their story down. Many books provide great jumping off points to encourage writing and I use them often for this purpose.
In another activity, we used all those leftover Scholastic Bookclub catalogues to simply encourage the act of writing and it's a sneaky way to reinforce some other learning too.