Literacy Centers

A few years ago a group of Kindergarten teachers who have been around for awhile worked with a consultant from our local Intermediate School District to provide some inservice training for teachers in our county.  I loved meeting with other kindergarten teachers because whether I was sharing what worked well in my classroom, or just hearing what other teachers were doing, I always left with renewed enthusiasm and conviction about what was right for children.

I am sharing some of the slides from a powerpoint presentation we used, and also some ideas of games and resources.  I know that all early childhood teachers are experts at developing and running literacy centers, but hopefully you can get a new idea or two.  Please feel free to comment and share some ideas that work well in your room too!  Everybody wins!

Here is a really basic definition of a literacy center.

Here are some models of literacy instruction that are often used in kindergartens:

Many of the games and ideas we discussed in our workshops work very well or adapt easily to all these models.

Reading off that list doesn’t sound very convincing – but it is all worth thinking about.  Sometimes I used to think more about making something that was cute and fun, than aligning my centers with curriculum and adjusting them according to my assessments.  When you develop a system to manage and organize both the materials and the routines for using them it really helps free the teacher to work with individuals or small groups more easily.




Our intention is to provide worthwhile activities for a lot of very different individual children, who are all at different levels of readiness and maturity.  It’s important to think through how all the different children will use and benefit from these materials. 

  You might want to think about the centers you have been using, with some of these ideas in mind.

All teaching should be based on excellent research.  There are times that a parent or an administrator questions the materials or activities that you are using.  Here is a good research based article about literacy.

reading research

As a group we brainstormed basic materials that should be available at literacy centers.

Literacy Checklist

We share some ideas of centers that we were using in our classrooms.

 Alphabet recognition 

Word Detective

These recording sheets work well for “writing the room.”  I usually began with “reading the room,” using lots of different kinds of pointers and fun glasses or sunglasses.  Then a little later in the year I added writing.

3 letter words

4 letter words

5 letter words

blank write room

lined write room

read the room

reading buddies


napping house 1

napping house 2

Check out my post on retelling for some more ideas!

sight word


sort letters recording sheet


CRASH directions

Crash game -sight words

You could actually program these with numerals, letters, shapes, or sight words.  I changed the car to different shapes and a different word besides CRASH, and it felt like a whole new game.

Here are the cars labeled with common sight words:

Crash with words

Here is another gameboard – write numbers in the divided circle, then add a paperclip on a brad fastener to make a spinner.  You can program this with letters, sight words, etc. too.  Change the clipart on the bottom or run it off on a different color of paper and it seems like a new game!


game boards rev



When you start making Literacy Games you find yourself looking for new materials everywhere!  Dollar stores, the dollar section at Target, Walmart, party supply stores all have so much stuff that you can use!

Here are some websites with more great literacy center ideas:

Literacy Center Websites

Here in Michigan school starts right after Labor Day.   It still seems very strange to me not to be going back to school!  Luckily – I have grandchildren birthdays coming up soon!

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lucille
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 19:05:48

    Perfect timing. I’m training a brand new teacher who will be starting with her students on Tuesday. She has been “shadowing” me this week and tomorrow I was going to talk to her about Literacy Stations. Thank you for doing such a great job explaining it and providing ideas and examples. Love it!


  2. Michelle MacLellan
    Jul 11, 2013 @ 11:35:44

    Very helpful and easy to assemble center ideas – thank you so much!


  3. Ann Smithey
    Jul 23, 2013 @ 23:53:36

    This was great information on setting up literacy centers!!thank you


  4. Trackback: Owl Babies, Napping house, and Wow! said the Owl | Professional Devolution

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