Writing Centers for Kindergarten

Writing Centers are a staple in primary classrooms!  But in the past, maybe, just maaaayyyybeee my writing centers got a little boring.  #realtalk I mean, it can be difficult to keep that station fresh and appropriate for the whole year.

Let’s talk about the lessons I’ve learned and ways to keep writing stations relevant and fresh all year long!

Setting Up a Writing Center

While some stations work well in a tub that kids can take anywhere, I like to have a set place in the room for my writing center.  Can it be a moving station?  Sure!  But I think it works best in one spot.

Here’s a look at what my writing center looked like in first grade.

I had the writing station in front of the word wall or sound wall so kids would have that spelling support close by.

I also had plastic drawers with the materials and supplies for the station.  My firsties knew that the first draw had the response page in it.  The middle drawer had any supplies they needed to complete the station, and the bottom drawer had crayons in it.

I had a bucket on top of the drawers with special writing pens.

And I used the side of my filing cabinet to post sound charts, the I Can charts, and any examples of the activity they would be doing if needed.

Plus, cute painted stools or seats always make the space more engaging!

…One thing to note: This station worked really well even though it was smashed between my classroom library station and my computer station.  It helped to have the filing cabinet as a visual buffer between the stations and the computer station table was turned so the writing friends couldn’t watch the screens! 🙂

Now that we’ve seen how I set this station up, let’s talk about the different activities to have at this station and how they change through the year!

Making a List

In this activity, kindergartners make a list of things on a certain topic that is themed for the month.  Print out the word cards and put them on a ring to give kids an idea of things to write.  This helps our young writers practice looking and copying before they are able to sound out words.  Kinders practice the important skill of finding information they need and writing it down.

As the year progresses, have them use only 2 or 3 things from the rings and write the other 2 or 3 things they sound out and write on their own.

Or if you are using this is first grade, take away the word cards altogether!

Labeling a Picture

In this activity, kids label a picture by sounding out words.  Unlike the list activity, this time the kids do not have words to copy.  However, at the beginning of the year, it may be appropriate to hang a labeled picture at the station for them to copy.

Adding Details to a Story

This activity changes throughout the year!  At the beginning of the year, students add details to the picture given and then write to tell about the picture.

The writing part comes with options for a sentence frame (as shown) or just plain lines for more proficient writers.

The goal of this station is to help kids learn to add more details in their pictures and transfer that into their writing.  Now it’s not just, “I can see a veteran.”  It’s “I can see a veteran AND A FLAG.”

Starting in January, this station changes to Roll A Story.  The goal is still the same: add details to your writing.  But the activity is a little more sophisticated.

Students roll a die.  They use the chart to add details to the story.  The version shown below (which you can get for FREE here) has the exact phrase students need to add.  There is another version without the phrase.  This helps kids learn to fill in the correct “grammar” with the sentence.  For example, it’s not “a mittens,” it just “mittens.”

For more proficient writers, or as the year goes on, have them roll a second or third time and add all of the details in one sentence…

Writing Prompts

In this last activity, students respond to a writing prompt.  Most of these activities come with word cards like the list activity. (January doesn’t have word cards because it’s asking about their new year goals…)  Students use the cards like a content word bank.

Just like in the list making activity, feel free to take these cards away for your more proficient writers.

Also, a word of caution: Often times, my lowest writers–especially my ELL babies–tend to just copy the words down that they see because they do not understand the task.  And for my ELL babies, it’s hard for them to form a sentence they want to write so they just copy.  Their sentences end up looking like this…

“I can alarm stop roll extinguisher call drop.”

I have found that for these kids, letting them draw the picture and then write without any cards is the best.  Sometimes without the distraction of the cards, they will begin to make a sentence that makes more sense.

And for those that just write random letters, that’s okay too.  They are responding with their picture and during cleanup I make it a point to check this station first so that I can help them at least tell me the answer to the writing prompt question and write it for them.

You can find the Roll a Story activity for FREE here and an entire bundle of writing stations for the year HERE!

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