Listening Centers Routines & Freebie

Listening Station is a staple center in kindergarten and first grade.  When I first started teaching in 2006, I had the CD player, headphones and books….actually I used the old Basal readers because I wasn’t using them for anything else.  The basals came with a CD and it was a cheap way for me to have an instant listening center! #teachertip
But thanks to technology, by the end of my 10 years in the classroom, we were using kindles for our first grade listening station.  Here’s a look at what this listening station looked like in my primary classroom.
Let me make a disclaimer: In a kindergarten classroom, I do not recommend using anything but an actual book for those kinder babies to hold. When I did a long term sub job in kinder, we used real live books and no technology for this station except for a CD player and headphones. Why? Because kindergarteners are developing concepts of print and need practice holding a book the right way and turning pages on their own correctly.  That’s why my kindergarten listening centers link to actual books to purchase. In fact, I can think back over my years of first grade and think of one or two classes that I would still use real books with because of their low reading skills–at least for the first nine weeks of first grade.
Now that we all understand that disclaimer… 🙂

Setting Up A Kindle Listening Center

Listening Station must be a “stationary” center if you have a plug-in CD player.  It can be a “Grab & Go” station if it’s on an iPad or kindle.  
But I do like to have a special sitting spot for this station.  At least to have the wall space.  I like to post an example of the listening station on the wall to model how to write the title of the book and give them the sentence stem or show them how to trace the sentence stem.
This was my listening station.  The blank wall is where the I Can posters and examples of work go. (This was a before school picture.)  I post those with the kids as we learn this station.  The white tub with ribbon holds the recording sheets.  The CD player sits on top (or Kindle if you go that route.) And under the cart skirt are all of the books and materials needed for the entire year.
Here is the I Can poster I put on the wall.  Each listening center in my packet has two options: Full color or black and white so it’s ready no matter what kind of printer you have.  Print the black and white version on bright paper for a colorful, ink-saving option!

Materials I have at this station or in the station tub are:

  • iPad, Kindle, or CD player/Book (for kinders)
  • two headphones (if you do partners)
  • headphone splitter (if you do partners)…find what I use HERE
  • crayons
  • pencils
  • recording sheet
  • Kindle version of the book

NOTE: I use these cheap headphones in the classroom for two reasons.  1) They’re 5 bucks each. And 2) WHEN the kids break them (because it happens a LOT no matter how well we go over procedures), it’s cheap to replace!  I mean, I tried the more expensive ones and they break too, so…. 🙂  In fact, I kept a few extras in my closet so that when one broke, I wouldn’t have to wait for another pair to come in.

If you want to use the “old fashioned” books in hand (which I 100% recommend for kindergartners to help them build concepts of print and page turning skills!), then you will have a stationary place for this center and a hard copy of the book.  All of the books used can be found with their CD at the link in my listening center resource!

Setting Up Your Kindle

On the kindle, I use the free time app.  When it is open, the kindle will always stay in this and the only way to exit it is by password.  Yay!  Within free time, there are books, apps, videos, games…but only what you add!  So, when I am using a kindle for listening station, I only have the books part available.

Here’s how to add or take away books

1. Exit free time by going to parent settings.  You will need to put in your password.
2. Click on “Manage Content & Subscription.”  You may need to put in your password again.

3. Click “Add Titles to **** Library.”

4. You will see a list of items.  Click the down arrow on the selection box so that you only see books.  Then, just simply check or uncheck the books you want to show up.  You can also go in here and make other videos, apps or games disappear by filtering those in the drop down selection box.

NOTE: Books will only show up if you have purchased the kindle version of the story.  Just purchase the kindle version of the book on Amazon and choose for it to be sent to the device you use for listening station.

And that’s it!  When you change out the story, just go in and add that book again and take away what you don’t want left in there!

Listening Station Routines

When students come to this station, they get the kindle and find the story we are reading.  My son’s book section looks like this with lots of books….

He has lots of books, but when I used this for listening station, we only had 2-3 books in there at a time.  I kept the book we were currently listening to and 1-2 other books they could read if they finished early.

I use a headphone splitter so that partners can use the same kindle and listen at the same time.

After they listen to the story, they grab the recording sheet and write.  The beginning of the year kindergarten response sheets have “favorite” part prompts.  Later in the year there are beginning/middle/end and problem/solution.

They trace the sentence starter and finish writing their sentence.  Then, they illustrate a picture to go with what they wrote about.

For each story, there are 4 options: two different sentence starters, no sentence starter and a blank template with no title.  That’s a great option if you have another book on the same topic you’d rather use!

All 4 of those versions are available in this listening center FREEBIE!  Also, find a year of listening centers here.


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