Language arts centers in my classroom are the best way to have students independently working on a variety of reading and writing skills. This time also allows me to meet with individual groups of students for guided reading.
Each week I have ten working centers that students rotate through as the week goes on. Students will do two or three centers, depending on the week. For example, if it is a five-day week, we will complete two centers a day. By the end of the week, students will have completed all ten centers. By having ten centers, students have a variety of working centers and play centers. It also limits the number of students in each group, which I believe helps with their ability to independently work. My centers run about 15-20 minutes each, totaling about 40 minutes of center work a day.
I often have parent helpers come in during center time as well. This is especially helpful in the beginning of the year, when students are still learning the center procedures. I explain a few of the parent led centers below.
Poem Center – In this center, students work on a variety of reading skills through the use of poetry. Each week, students have a different poem to work with. The activity changes, depending on the poem. Students can practice finding sight words, illustrating a picture, or a written response to the poem.
Alphabet/Word Work Center –
This center changes and adapts as the year goes on. In the beginning of the year, students work on learning and using the letters of the alphabet. As the year goes on, this center can be used for working on sight words, or CVC words. This center can be a worksheet or a hands-on game.
Writing Center – This center also changes and adapts at the year goes on. In the beginning of the year, it works on learning sentence structure and inventive spelling. Towards the middle and end of the year, it works on applying that knowledge to independent writing. Students may work on mixed up sentences or “squiggle writing”. Students may have a specific writing prompt, or free write. The writing center can also be a “write the room” activity.
Handwriting Center -The handwriting center is a way to incorporate the handwriting program my school uses – Handwriting Without Tears. Students have their own personal handwriting workbooks that teach the formation of letters and words. These workbooks are used when I have a parent helper in the center. Otherwise, the handwriting center has whiteboards where students can practice writing the alphabet, sight words, or “write the room”.
Listening Center – This center is where students listen to a book on CD and do a written response to it. The book either aligns with the current author study or language arts unit.
Math Center – The math center is my way of connecting different areas of curriculum. The math centers can be a worksheet or a hands-on math game. It aligns with our current math unit.
Science Center – The science center in my way of connecting different areas of curriculum. The science center can be a writing response to a science lesson, or a hands-on science game. I also occasionally use the weekly Scholastic Let’s Find Out readers in the science center. This would be when I have a parent helper in the center.
Computers – Students use the classroom computers to practice language arts skills. Two common kid-friendly websites I use include starfall.com and abcya.com.
Library Center – The library center is where students can do free reading in our classroom library. I have pillows and stuffed animals in the library as well to create a comfortable, safe reading environment.
Puzzles Center – The puzzles center is one of the play centers I incorporate into my language arts centers. I have a variety of learning puzzles that practice reading, rhyming, and spelling. Students can choose which puzzles they would like to do.