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.

Are you looking for quality literacy resources to engage children during your literacy work stations? 

Looking for ideas for Daily 5 Word Work? 

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 herehere 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.

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Literacy Centre Ideas - hands-on literacy center activities perfect for 5-8 years | you clever monkey
Obviously the activities change depending on the age, abilities and mix of children. 

At the start of the school year the activities tend to focus on building phonological skills with each rotation always incorporating some key focus areas - syllables, rhyme, letter recognition, beginning sounds and spelling and reading of short CVC words. Strengthening oral language skills are also a key focus in the first few terms of starting school.

As the year progresses, sight words, parts of speech, digraphs, story telling and developing vocabulary become a bigger focus. 

The literacy centre activities often have other skills (fine motor, co-operative or physical) built in to them as wellEvery activity I choose is designed to last between 15-20 minutes each for 3-6 children. 

In this blog post I'm sharing some of the literacy activities I have used in class. 


Many children have some knowledge of the alphabet prior to starting school. I like to find ways for them to build on their knowledge in a fun hands-on way that everyone can access.

These alphabet rocks are quick to make but are so tactile, you'll find yourself using them all the time. I just wrote on the river rocks using black Sharpie/permanent texta. You notice I've written lower case letters only because while we teach both upper- and lower-case letters together, children need to master lower-case letters firstly to begin reading.

Alphabet Letter Sorting Mats | you clever monkey

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. 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.

Literacy centre activity ideas for your classroom.  Perfect for 5-8 year old students in Junior Primary or Elementary grades | you clever monkey

Another activity that helps build letter recognition skills are these letter wheels. I like them because you can swap the upper for lower or for initial sounds easily to suit individual children making differentiation easy! 

Working with pegs is a great fine motor strengthening activity too.

You can grab a FREE copy of these cards from here.

Literacy centre activity ideas for your classroom.  Perfect for 5-8 year old students in Junior Primary or Elementary grades | you clever monkey

Few children can resist working with playdough so these playdough mats get quite a workout at the start of the school year.

I've made several different sets. Some with just the upper- or lower-case letters and these larger playdough mats that allow for some prewriting practice too. You can find all of our alphabet playdough mats here.

Alphabet Playdough Mats - Upper Case Letters | you clever monkey


Being able to recognise works can be broken into parts or syllables is a skill learnt by the end of preschool. It's an important one for children to keep practicing as it is invaluable later when they're trying to spell unfamiliar words.

Activities that allow children to simply count and sort objects or picture or words together are always a good place to start.

Years ago I made these syllable sorting mats which we use frequently in our centres to sort anything from objects to our spelling words. You can download a FREE copy from here.

Syllable Sorting Mats | you clever monkey 

Working with older children, spelling words can be targeted instead to help them practice counting the number of syllables in words. We used this free printable I made to compare letters, sounds and syllables.

Later in the year, I use games like this Syllable BINGO game to practice counting syllables.

Syllable BINGO Game | you clever monkey


Learning to recognise and produce rhyme is another phonological skill children are meant to have mastered during their first year at school. 

But rhyming can be a difficult skill to master. 

At the beginning of the school year, I use cards like these Rhyming Word Cards as the children only have to differentiate between a few words to find the rhyming pair.

'Does snake rhyme with egg?
Does snake and duck sound the same?
What about rake? Does snake rhyme with snake?'

It doesn't take them long to get the idea and develop some confidence in identifying rhyming words.

Rhyming Word Cards | you clever monkey

A step up from this are these 3-part rhyming cards. 

The children like them as they work like jigsaw puzzles and they can work co-operatively to make all the puzzles. Usually I break the pack up into four smaller trays to make it easier to find the matching pieces.

The 3-part puzzles help support children learning to rhyme but they also introduce alternative sounds rather than just focusing on CVC words. Children can see that while pear/bear/chair sound the same, they are spelled differently.

Rhyming Word Puzzles - printable 3 part rhyming puzzles with real life photos as support for young children | you clever monkey

Learning to produce rhyme is harder and often a skill that takes longer than the first year at school to develop.

These I SPY mats are always a popular addition to our literacy centre rotations. Introducing children to word families can help the begin to produce rhyming words of their own once they begin to see a pattern to our language.

We start using them and just try to find the words that rhyme. Later in the year, we try to spell them as well.

Rhyming Word I SPY Mats | you clever monkey

Other games like this Rhyming Word Domino game can be a fun way towards the end of the year to practice making rhyme and putting our knowledge of word families to use.

Rhyming Word Domino Short Vowel Game | you clever monkey


One aspect of phonological awareness is the ability to identify initial sounds in words and then to be able to blend and segment short words using the beginning sounds letters make.

Starting school, some children might know only the first sound in their name while others made already know all of their beginning sounds.

For those children just beginning to learn their letters and the sounds they make, I use something like these Alphabet LEGO Mats

Few children can resist LEGO so they can build the letter, practice writing the letters while starting to connect those symbols with the sounds they make.

Alphabet LEGO Mats | you clever monkey

As we introduce the different letters in our spelling lessons, I usually put batches of these Beginning Sound Clip Cards in our literacy centres to allow children to practice independently what has been taught.

Like our Rhyming Word Cards, these only have three pictures to choose between making them. Initially I will just choose those cards with CVC words (c is for cat) then use the ones with blends (c is for clock) again later.

Beginning Letter Sound Clip Cards | you clever monkey

When we have access to computers, I use these two matching games ABC Match and Picture Match to allow children to practice as well. Sometimes when we have an extra 5 minutes at the end of the day, we'll use these to finish.

Another way we practice our beginning sounds are with these Initial Sound Match Cards.

I created two batches of these. The first set follow the order in which the sounds are introduced meaning I can just use those that match what has been intentionally taught for independent practice in our centres.

Once all the sounds have been introduced I can then use the second set which feature all the different sounds.

Initial Sound Match Cards | you clever monkey

Our Initial Sound Alphabet Mats can be used the same way. Either in batches of sounds or all together to practice differentiating between beginning sounds. 

Once they think they've found all the words beginning with the targeted sound, they can double check their work with the answer cards.

Initial Sound Alphabet Mats | you clever monkey



When first introducing word families, most literacy programs start with CVC words or consonant-vowel-consonant as they are the simplest for children to be able to isolate, segment and then blend together to make a word.

Resources like these CVC Word Family Mats allow children to utilise their growing ability to rhyme to make words from the same family. They can build the word then write it making it an ideal multi-sensory activity. 

I love these Jolly Phonics Alphabet Magnetic Letters. I use them all the time in our literacy centres.

CVC Word Family Mats | you clever monkey

I haven't met a child yet who doesn't like stamping! Using CVC pictures, children can make the word in
 kinetic sand or make it from playdough as another centre activity.

Literacy centre activity ideas for your classroom.  Perfect for 5-8 year old students in Junior Primary or Elementary grades | you clever monkey

If you need things to stay more contained, these Build A Word Mats come with a CVC, CCVC, CVCC and CVCe mats making them a regular addition to our literacy centre rotations.

Build A Word CVC CVCC CCVC CVCe Pack | you clever monkey

Children benefit from activities that ask them to segment the sounds in words like these CVC Vowel Clip Cards ask children to find the medial vowel sound in each of these CVC words.

Clip cards are one of my favourite go-to resources as you can use them so many different ways and they help strengthen all those small hand muscles as well.

CVC Word Middle Vowel Sound Clip It Cards | you clever monkey

Children this age need practice reading short vowel words as well as spelling them.

These I Can Read CVC Word cards are perfect for this as children have to read the words to find the correct match for the picture. They use pegs to mark the right one or counters.

I Can Read CVC Word Cards | you clever monkey

These Crack The Code CVC Cards are a little more challenging but have provided my children with some much needed practice at blending individual sounds together to make familiar words.

I had several children who knew most of the individual single letter phonograms yet still had difficulty reading short words. These Crack The Code cards have really helped with that.

Crack The Code CVC Word Pack | you clever monkey


I always try to include activities using sight words or also referred to as tricky or high frequency words. 

Our Say It, Make It, Write It Mats were first made for sight word practice but are perfect for practicing names, building letters and even for maths. 

I use these for our spelling words as well as sight word practice. You can grab your FREE copy from here.

Say It Make It Write It Mats | you clever monkey

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.

Craft sticks are a useful resource for any classroom. You can find more than 50 different ways to use them here.

Sight Word Sort | you clever monkey

Another activity that always proves popular is Sight Word Splat. 

A 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 game can be altered to just use individual letters for children just learning to read making differentiation in groups easy.

Literacy centre activity ideas for your classroom.  Perfect for 5-8 year old students in Junior Primary or Elementary grades | you clever monkey

We use our flower shaped Jolly Phonics cards but I've also created some fly cards for our math centres too. You can grab these ordinal number cards from here.

For those ready for more of a challenge, these sight word mats have been invaluable. 

Using either playdough or magnetic letters, they make the word then children can either trace and write the word or make up a short sentence with the focus word. 

Being colour coded into groups of words, differentiation becomes easier as children can then work on the group of words they're yet to master.

Oxford Sight Word Mats Say It Make It Write It Use It | you clever monkey


Literacy 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.

Say you've been looking at nouns in class. I then put a follow on activity in our literacy rotations in the weeks following to help reinforce the concepts taught.

Noun Sorting Pack | you clever monkey

For more capable readers I've used this Parts of Speech Sort. The children had to work together to sort the words written onto the pop sticks into three groups - verbs, nouns or adjectives.

Literacy centre activity ideas for your classroom.  Perfect for 5-8 year old students in Junior Primary or Elementary grades | you clever monkey

We also use our literacy centres to focus on other words like compound or composite words. 

This station used a fun paint chip hack to create some 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. 

Compound Word Sort - perfect printable cards for introducing children to composite words | you clever monkey

Younger children prefer these picture compound word cards to work with as they have the visuals as support.

Compound Word Sort - perfect printable cards for introducing children to composite words | you clever monkey

We use these Pick A Partner Cards to help us choose a partner in class but we've also used them as a literacy centre. The children use them to play a game of Memory, placing them face down then taking it in turns to flip over two cards at a time.

Pick A Partner Cards - Compound Word Pack | you clever monkey


After learning all the beginning single sounds, most literacy programs begin introducing digraphs. These can be difficult to master as some have rules but others need to be practiced and practiced.

I've made whole lot of picture cards particularly for digraphs and diphthong sounds. We use them to help introduce the sound along with our digraph posters.

Literacy centre activity ideas for your classroom.  Perfect for 5-8 year old students in Junior Primary or Elementary grades | you clever monkey

Because it can take some children a long time to become confident at identifying digraphs, finding different ways to practice the same thing can be challenging.

I am an advocate of playful learning so my go-to activities are often game based in nature. These I SPY mats are an example of this.

Digraph I SPY + Sound Mazes | you clever monkey

Many digraph activities I use in our literacy centres help to build children's vocabularies. 

Other than /er/ is the most common of all the /er/ sounds, there is no rule that help children remember which /er/ir/ur/ear sound is the correct spelling. These Digraph Clip Cards wouldn't be used until later in our school year once children have had some exposure to the different words through other digraph activities but still need to practice the spelling of these words.

Digraph Clip Cards - ER IR UR | you clever monkey


Building strong oral language skills are important in the first years at school and literacy centres can be used to build and develop these.

Story telling with puppets, toys and other objects like story stones can prompt rich story telling.

I make my own story stones as they're not difficult to make. 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.

Literacy centre activity ideas for your classroom.  Perfect for 5-8 year old students in Junior Primary or Elementary grades | you clever monkey

Some of our activities might be based around retelling a familiar book. Sequence cards, story stones, puppets and other objects can be used by children to retell stories. 

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.

Literacy centre activity ideas for your classroom.  Perfect for 5-8 year old students in Junior Primary or Elementary grades | you clever monkey

Using the same text, this centre children were asked to draw their ideas and are encouraged to label their picture. 

Literacy centre activity ideas for your classroom.  Perfect for 5-8 year old students in Junior Primary or Elementary grades | you clever monkey

Retelling stories creates the perfect opportunity to introduce your students to early coding too. We used The Gingerbread Man to create this STEM enhanced invitation to retell the story.

Literacy centre activity ideas for your classroom.  Perfect for 5-8 year old students in Junior Primary or Elementary grades | you clever monkey

Other activities might encourage students to tell their own stories. I love the Tell Me a Story Cards from eeBoo and Rory's Story Cubes.

Many books provide great jumping off points to encourage writing and I use them often for this purpose. 

These Roll Me A Story Cards have also help engage some of our most reluctant writers as they try to make up the silliest of stories.

Roll Me A Story | you clever monkey