Thursday, September 1, 2016

Learning Centers Blog Hop Series: Writing Center

Welcome back to the Pre-K Partner's Learning Centers Blog Hop Series! Every other Thursday (through November) we are highlighting unique learning center ideas. This week we are going to take a look at the writing center

The writing center is a very busy place! Young authors are creating, writing/drawing, and telling stories to each other in a fun environment that is meant just for them! For a few years I had my writing and ABC center combined. In this classroom (pictured above) I had a dedicated "writing learning center" with a few ABC games, books, and tools added. In the same room I had a separate ABC center (with more games), art center (which students could write in), a reading area, and more learning centers.   

My writing center in this photo had a table, shelf cabinet (to hold items and to block off the other center), a shelf (actually a kitchen sink shelf) on the table, room to display, and a rack to hold ABC books.  We always go through and practice/model new writing center tools/activities as a class. Center time will run so much more smoothly when students know expectations and procedures. 

The writing center helps students to practice handwriting, pencil grip, and motor skills. Students gain self esteem by pretending to be authors/illustrators and are proud of their work! The writing center also allows students to independently practice literacy skills like letter recognition, vocabulary, oral language, handwriting, etc. As with all learning centers, the writing center allows students to practice social skills by sharing materials, practicing taking turns, and forming ideas with others!

In our classroom we had a designated "share time" for student authors!  Students would "turn & talk" to a partner about a story or picture they wrote about during centers or during journal time. This time spent sharing helped us to point out characters, setting, and tell the beginning/middle/ending to stories!

Rotating materials and bringing out new tools helps keep the writing center fun and engaging! Our classroom parents were always willing to stock our writing center with scrap paper, junk mail envelopes, greeting cards, etc.

To help you build, stock, and enrich your writing center, here is a list of materials I have had in our writing center:  

- A variety of writing materials: pencils, markers, colored pencils
- A variety of papers: scrap paper, colored paper, index cards, old greeting cards
-Emtpy stapled together stacks of paper for book making.
- A word wall, vocabulary chart/poster, and/or vocabulary cards..students love to copy words and label their drawings! 
- Bulletin board to display student work, an author study, or vocab. 
- A few ABC letter games (like matching cards, bottlecap matching, etc.)
- Handwriting tools (I stocked my writing center with an extra set of Handwriting Without Tears materials like chalkboards, doodle boards, white boards, and letter sticks.)

In addition to those materials listed above, I also like to incorporate books into each center. For the writing center I have a few books that stay in there year round and then add a few fictional ABC books that rotate with the theme. 

Here are a few of my favorite books for the writing center! 

I love to showcase student learning around the classroom! If you don't have room in the center to display student writing, consider alternate areas in the classroom. During our bookmaking study, we displayed students' books in our classroom library. They loved sharing and "reading" each other's stories! 

Also, if you don't have room for a word wall/vocabulary in your writing center, have it nearby so students can add familiar and new words to their drawings/writings. Students also love to write their friends' and teachers' names! 

The teacher's role is to provide materials that encourage creativity/ideas, motivate students to "do more" than they think they can, and of course document student learning in centers.  Sometimes students can get stuck on what to write/draw about or have trouble even just starting! That's one reason, among others, why I keep books and vocabulary for inspiration in the writing center. Highlighting authors and doing author studies during group time can enhance student writing/drawing too! Teachers can encourage students to "add details" like more colors, grass/sky, letters, and/or words. Teachers can motivate students to express themselves and use verbal language skills to tell about their drawings/writings. Teachers can document, take notes, and observe students in the writing center and see where students are at with motor skills, social skills, and literacy skills. 

Stay tuned for more learning center fun during the Pre-K Partner's Learning Centers Blog Hop Series!

Hop on over to Fun in ECSE for more writing learning center ideas! 

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