Kindergarten literacy centers can help young students in learning the reading skills they need in a fun environment.
Since young children have shorter attention spans than older students, one method teachers have found conducive to keeping their interest is through learning centers. The centers or stations may be designated tables or areas in the classroom and created to accommodate a small group of students. Centers activities may be explained to the students beforehand and done independently, or the children may be assisted by the teacher, teacher's aide, or parent volunteer.
Times may vary, but most activities are designed to be completed in short chucks of time. The centers may last between thirty and sixty minutes, with the children switching to different centers during this time period.
Literacy Centers in Kindergarten Classrooms
Kindergarten and preschool literacy centers should focus on necessary emergent and early reading skills, but making literacy activities fun for students can help them stay focused on the task. Activities will change and increase in difficulty as the student progress with concepts throughout the year.
Base themes for Kindergarten literacy centers include ABC Centers that focus on letter recognition, capital and lower case distinction, and alphabet sequences and writing centers that focus on correct letter formation, recognizing and writing words, and early grammar and punctuation concepts. Other centers are based on phonemic awareness and phonics skills, such as understanding vowels and consonants, counting syllables, and recognizing phonic patterns. (For more on Phonics, see this article on phonics worksheets.) Reading centers utilizing sight words or high frequency word recognition, word study, and vocabulary-building are also common.
Ideas for Kindergarten Literacy Centers
Any activity that helps children in reading and literacy skills can be part of a center. Teaching kids in a fun and explorative environment will help build confidence and initiative as well as essential literacy skills. Following are some ideas that work well for kindergarten ages:
- Write the Room: Using small dry-erase boards, small chalk boards, or clipaords with paper and pencil, children write words they recognize from around the classroom.
- Syllable Clap and Chart: Children have a laminated sheet or chart with the number of syllables listed at the top. Small pictures of common words are located in a plastic bag at the center, and the children take turns choosing a picture from the bag, clapping out the syllables in the word, and placing the picture on the chart under the appropriate number.
- Word Match: Sight words or vocabulary words are written on a card. Students use letter tiles or magnetic letters to match the letters and spell the word.
- Alphabet Order: Using letter tiles or flashcards, children put letters in alphabetic sequence.
- Make Your Own Books/Sentences: Stapled printouts or single sheets coinciding with current curriculum can be placed at a center for students to write single words or finish sentences. Laminated sheets or cards at the center can direct students to the appropriate words or themes.
- Pocket Charts: Pocket chart literacy activities may include matching site words to the base (for example all 'at' words, such as bat, cat, sat, in one column and all 'un' words like fun, run, sun, etc.) in another; completing sentences or nursery rhymes, or finding sight words that match objects near the chart.
- Object Match: Students match objects the matching words or rhyming words.
- Independent Reading Activity Center: Classroom libraries, designated books, or oversize books can be used for independent reading, assisting children in identifying sight words and understanding story sequences.
- Listening Center: Books on tape or CD with headphones help children with phonemic awareness.
- Letter Recognition Activities: Kindergarten literacy centers based on letter recognition can be created in a variety of ways: 'drawing' letters in sand, finger paint or shaving cream; stamping letters on construction paper; stenciling letters; using playdough to create stamped or cut out letters; matching capital and lower case letters in a felt board.
- Letter/Word Find: Students highlight specified letters or words on printed page.
More Literacy Corner or Station Ideas
- ABC flashcards
- ABC/sight word bingo
- Guided/small group reading
- Alphabet puzzles
- Sight word or memory ABC games
- Word clothesline - clip letters on small clothesline to make words
- Letter snacks: use cut up fruits and vegetables to create letters
- Rhyme and Rhythm words: beat the floor or makeshift drums to accompany the beats or syllables in poetry or individual words
Kindergarten Center Resources
- Kindergarten Literacy Stations that Really Work
- Literacy Center Examples
- Literacy Center.net