A writing center is the perfect way to engage your students in writing practice during literacy centers. But setting up your writing center in kindergarten or first grade can be overwhelming!
There is so much to consider when setting up centers at the beginning of the year. Where do you even begin?
Hopefully, these tips and ideas will be a helpful place to start as you begin to plan your writing center for the year!
Questions To Consider When Setting Up Your Writing Center
Before you begin setting up your writing center, you will want to ask yourself these questions. This will help you plan out the perfect writing center for you and your classroom management style.
- Do you want a dedicated place for students to work or do you want them to take the writing center activities to their seat?
- Do you have room for setting up a full writing center in your classroom?
- How will you display vocabulary cards in your writing center?
- What writing supplies will you have in your writing center?
- What writing center activities will be best for your students?
- How will you teach students how to use the supplies?
- How will you introduce the writing center?
- Do you want a limit on how many students can work at the writing center at one time?
- How many writing center activities can students complete in one day?
- What will you do if students misuse the writing center?
I know that big list of questions might seem overwhelming! No worries; I am going to talk you through how I set up a writing center in my own kindergarten classroom.
Where Will Your Writing Center Be?
The first question to consider when setting up your writing center in Kindergarten or 1st grade is, where do you want your writing center to be? Your answer to this question will answer some of your other questions for you.
In my kindergarten classroom, I prefer to have a dedicated space for my writing center.
I set up a small table in front of a bulletin board. This table is big enough to fit 2 students comfortably, so that’s how many students can be in the writing center at one time.
How will you display vocabulary cards at your writing center?
I have used clothespins on string, pocket charts, binder rings, and binders. Personally, I prefer displaying my writing center vocabulary cards in a pocket chart.
It makes it so easy to switch out the seasonal vocabulary each month!
In order to keep that vocabulary accessible all year, I also print the vocabulary cards 2-4 to a page and place them in a binder. Students can access the binder all year.
What Supplies Will You Have in Your Writing Center?
The next question to consider when setting up your writing center is, what writing supplies will you have? And how will you store those supplies?
A few of my favorite supplies to keep in my kindergarten writing center include: crayons, pencils, scissors, glue, colored pencils, and markers.
We do not begin literacy centers until the second week of school, so I have time to introduce these supplies slowly in Kindergarten.
I do not suggest putting any supply in the writing center that you have not taken the time to introduce and practice with students.
If students misuse supplies, they are put away until we can practice again.
You can store student writing supplies a few different ways. Classroom caddies allow you to keep everything in one place. However, individual pencil trays help keep supplies organized.
Organizing Your Writing Center Activities
How you organize your writing center activities is so important, especially in Kindergarten. You want students to know exactly where papers are and where to put them away.
A few different ideas for organizing your writing center activities:
- Stackable paper trays – These are great for limited space because they stack, but they can get knocked down easily and it can be difficult to see what’s in each tray.
- Sterilite 3-Drawer Containers – These are an investment, but they will last you forever. Students can easily pull out a drawer to see what’s inside.
- 10-Drawer Rolling Cart – This is a great option if you have a lot of activities at your writing center. You can keep the cart next to your writing center so students have room to work.
Then you must consider, do you want your students to turn in their writing center activities or take them home? Personally, I prefer to let them take their writing center activities home in Kindergarten.
When they are finished, they hold it up to show me and then put it in their mailbox.
If you want students to turn in their papers, you will need a bin big enough to hold all of the papers and a system for checking papers and handing them back.
How Will You Introduce the Writing Center?
In my kindergarten classroom, we do free flow literacy centers with student choice. However, I make sure to slowly teach each center and make sure students are fully independent before giving them full reign.
I begin introducing the writing center the second week of school. During literacy centers time, my students are just practicing their basket centers and building stamina.
After, we do one writing center activity together as a class.
We do one writing center activity a day for about three days. After that, I introduce the writing center and let two students at a time try it out during our literacy centers time.
Classroom Management Tip: Begin the school year with only a few activities in your writing center, especially in kindergarten. You can add more activities in as you have time to introduce them.
Picture direction cards are a must have when setting up your writing center because they give students a visual reminder of what they are supposed to be doing with each activity.
I use these picture directions when introducing each writing center activity and then hang them up in our Kindergarten writing center.
What Activities Should You Have In Your Writing Center?
The activities that you out in your writing center will depend on where your students are with writing. Here are some of my favorite writing center a ideas for Kindergarten and 1st Grade:
- Handwriting and letter formation
- Writing beginning sounds
- Trace and write a sentence
- Writing a sentence to match a picture
- Finish the sentence
- Story writing
- How to writing
- Pattern book writing
- Making books
- Editing sentences
- Mix and fix sentence unscrambles
- Story starters
- List writing
When starting the year in Kindergarten, I like to begin with handwriting, beginning sounds, labeling, and sentence writing activities.
Writing Center for the Year
If you’ve read this entire blog post, then you already have a great start to setting up your writing center in Kindergarten or first grade! If you’re now wishing you had everything you needed to set up your writing center ready to go, I’ve got you covered.
My #1 goal is always to make your life easier, and that’s why I created the ULTIMATE writing center for Kindergarten and 1st Grade.
This is the last writing center resource you will ever need for K-1. It includes 15 differentiated writing center activities per month, vocabulary cards, picture directions, and more.
Click here to grab the Kindergarten and 1st Grade Writing Center for the Year Bundle.
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