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Literacy Centers: The What and How

What if I told you there was a way to make your students more self-motivated? Literacy centers are a great way to get your students self-motivated and excited about the curriculum. If you’re not familiar with literacy centers or need some new ideas here are a few tips to rock out your centers!

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If you could choose one skill to perfect in your students, what would it be? For me it would be their ability to work independently. Yes, I know problem solving skills and critical thinking skills are vital to success but if you really think about the skills needed to succeed in several academic areas only one prevails: self-motivation.

Literacy centers are a great way to get your students self-motivated and excited about the curriculum. Click To Tweet

Wait, what’s a literacy center? 

According to TeacherVision, “Literacy centers are an exciting, self-motivational way to enhance, develop, or extend leaning within a classroom.”

In other words, centers are a great way to enhance what you are already doing in the classroom in terms of reading writing, math, science, technology etc. Centers take the ideas and concepts being discussed in class and improve them through a variety of activities. 

When students work in stations, they can either work by themselves or in a group depending on the activity. Regardless of how they work, they are guaranteed to have a great time! 

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Literacy Center Options 

While the name “literacy” can spark the idea of reading and reading only in our minds, a center can be created for: 

  • Computers/Technology
  • Writing
  • Guided Reading 
  • Listening
  • Word Work 
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Honestly, the list goes on and on! We can create centers for really any subject that we teach on a day to day basis. 

Creating Literacy Centers

Good centers work on a rotation. By putting your centers on rotation, you are hitting different styles of learning all the time and therefore reaching more students. One of the best ways to rotate your literacy centers is by having a different box for each month. Each box holds various activities to do throughout the month. 

If the idea of making literacy centers sounds daunting, you always have the option of exploring TpT. But what should you look for when you buy? 

One of the best ways to buy literacy centers is in a bundle and if it’s a growing bundle, meaning it will be added to, it is even better! If you can get a growing bundle, you are guaranteeing that your literacy centers are rotating and differentiating instruction at the same time. 

You can find literacy center bundles for Math and Language Arts at the kindergarten, first, second, third, and fourth grade levels in our TpT store. These top selling bundles have over 200 centers for students to work on throughout the year. 

A benefit of buying is you get a good idea of what works and what doesn’t without you having to do too much leg work ahead of time.

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Organizing your Literacy Centers

I know I said you should have a different box for each month and this may sound like a crazy amount of boxes, but it will help you stay organized in the long run. 

The best way to organize your literacy centers is by purchasing the following items: 

Sounds like a crazy mix of items, but these three items will make organizing and keeping your literacy centers organized so much easier! 

You will need an Iris box for each station as well as 11 extra Iris boxes for easy month to month storage. Put all the pieces for each individual station into a Ziploc bag.

12 x 12 IRIS Cases

Then put that Ziploc bag, along with any materials they will need for the station (like manipulatives, scissors, crayons, etc.) inside an Iris box and place it where your literacy centers are located. Explain the rules to your students and let them get to work!

If you decide to make literacy centers for every month of school, you can have an Iris box (or two) that holds all of the literacy centers for that month. Then you can easily switch them out for a quick rotation of stations! 

Why literary centers? 

One of the reasons literacy centers are such an attractive option, is that is allows students to learn in a variety of ways. Research has shown when you give students options to learn in different ways they become more intrinsically motivated; isn’t this the ultimate goal? 

Another reason literacy centers are so great for the classroom is what it tells you, the teacher. When you are walking around monitoring your literacy centers, you can see what students are struggling with.

If there is a common issue, you can talk about that idea more in class. If you see a student struggling with a foundational skill, you can round up your resources and help the student master that skill before it’s “too late.” 

If you’ve never used literacy centers before, check some out on TpT in our store and give them a go! Your students will love having fun in the classroom and you will love the results!

Looking for some other amazing articles on READING in your classroom? Check out these reading activities that can help your students achieve success.

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3 Responses

  1. Sheryl Spears says:

    Love this article and love your centers. I am almost done with laminating and cutting out all 100 math ones for sure, but still working on the ELA ones. Can you direct me to how you get started in having the students work with the centers? Do you have a post on this. I’m looking for whether or not you demonstrate all of them at once or one at time. I guess I’m wondering what I do now. How do I go about getting the centers up and rolling. I’m up for any ideas. Thank you. Sheryl

  2. Sheryl Spears says:

    I agree totally with this article. I’m wondering how do you start your year or month off with centers? Do you demonstrate to the students all the centers at once? Or do you do one a day? How do you go about showing how to do each center? If you have a blog post on how to do this please let me know. Thank you. Sheryl Spears sspears@gviking.org

    1. Hey there Sheryl! Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I am working on a blog post on this very topic for back to school! Be sure you are joining us in our Facebook Groups as well because I will also do a FB live over on the page when the blog post is ready!

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