Saturday, September 14, 2013

Literacy Centers Part I - Word Work

During the time my students are working at literacy centers, I am working with students in small groups. I have 3 small groups and I see every student in a small group every day. The students spend 30 minutes at centers and 15 minutes in small group. Last school year, I used the Daily 5 centers at the end of the year and my students enjoyed all the choices and I enjoyed how easy they were to organize and maintain. However, there was not much accountability and they seemed to need something more to do. So this year I decided to combine the game/recording centers with a Daily 5 center.

This post will be the first post of five that I plan to write explaining how I organize the centers in my classroom. I have 5 centers - fish, octopus, crab, jellyfish and sea turtle. The fish center is where students work with the popcorn words, so I call it the Word Work Center.

Every center begins with a must-do. 

After the student completes the must-do, they rotate to the next center (activity). 
Here is the visual I created for the students:
 The students rotate to the next center on their own after they finish the must-do. This allows them  enough time to produce quality work. For some students it may take 10 minutes, and other students may spend 15 minutes on the must-do. If I rotated centers every 15 minutes, the early finisher would not have anything to do for 5 minutes (of 15 minutes) and the student who needs to spend a little more time completing the assignment would not get finished (and might become upset). I call the students over to the teacher table from their centers, so I am not a center. This makes it easier to assign students in flexible small groups.

I created all the must-do activities and they are found at TpT.
The must-do activities are all differentiated. For the word work center, they move from writing the word, to unscrambling the word, then choosing the correct word to complete the sentence. There are also 2 different kinds of recording sheets-they write the word once or three times. 

After they complete the must-do, they move to the can-do center which offers word work choices.
Here is the visual that is posted above the organizer.

I have organized all the materials in the drawers and they are labeled. I cut the back tabs off the drawers so they can completely remove the drawers and take them to the table/floor/oil drip pan.

Here are some of the activities:
I found this idea on Pinterest from this blog. They make a "snake" with the play-doh and then stick wooden sticks in it to spell the popcorn words.
Rainbow write the words
Stamp the words
 Spell the words with magnets
Use a 12X18 piece of manila paper and fold it into fourths, then write the words really large and use dot paint to cover the letters with dots.

I made 4 sets of popcorn words and will add words to the word banks as they are introduced each week. If you need popcorn words, they are here (free). For the small size I printed them 4 to a page and on different colors of construction paper so they can be sorted easily.


  1. "spell the word with magnets" is that an oil drip tray? I can never find those.

  2. Yes, I got mine at Walmart-automotive section about $14

  3. Hi..Love your ideas!! .I just dont know how do I find your "must do" activities in TPT??


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