If you teach kindergarten, first, or second grade, setting up an engaging classroom writing center is the perfect way to get kids to write independently, build and practice their skills, and have fun.
How to Set-Up a Writing Center in Your Classroom
Writing is an important skill that is easy to neglect or overlook. But reading and writing go hand in hand and in order for our students to excel, they need to develop solid writing skills.
That’s where our job comes in! As elementary teachers, we are there to help build those important writing skills.
But often it is a task that kids do not enjoy. Can you relate?
Teaching writing doesn’t have to be hard…it can be fun! Why not set up a writing center in your classroom that gets kids excited about writing?
Classroom writing centers are an area of the room that you designate as a place to write. They contain prompts and any materials needed during the writing process. Think about how you can inspire and build confidence in your writing center by selecting tools that create a love of writing.
I want to help you set up a writing center in your classroom that will build the love of writing we desire in our students. Learn fun ideas, strategies, and tools that will help you fill your classroom writing center with engaging activities and eager students.
Tips for Setting Up a Writing Center
First, choose where in your classroom your writing center will be located. A quiet corner, free of distractions is good. Alternatively, if you don’t have a spot that you can dedicate to a writing center, you can create a “pop-up” style board that can move when it’s time for writing or tucked away when needed.
Your writing area can be used as a rotation during center time or at other times during the day.
You will want to stock your writing center with necessary supplies and things that will inspire students to write. Here are some ideas:
- Pencils and erasers – Of course you’ll need writing supplies!
- Paper – Having a variety of paper is a good idea, as different assignments require different supplies.
- Highlighters, markers, and crayons – Illustrations will be a part of the writing process, so it’s a good idea to have these at hand.
- Writing prompts, templates, and checklists – Include a variety of these tools for students to use to complete their writing. Kids thrive when given choice in what template, style, and prompt to use when writing!
- Pictures and examples of writing – Include completed examples of different writing styles for children to use as a guide when creating their own.
Organizing a Classroom Writing Center
A writing center should be organized and easily accessible. We don’t want our students to use lack of supplies or ability to find what they need, as an excuse not to write!
Organize the space, label everything, and provide the necessary tools.
Here are some helpful tools:
You may want to use a portable tri-fold board to hang your prompts, instructions, and other visual reminders for students and then keep the supplies in front of the display. This is great for those with limited space!
Keep your pencils and writing tools organized in pencil cups or containers with sections. This is my favorite tool for keeping supplies separate and looking nice!
You may choose to use a corkboard or bulletin board to display your writing posters and prompts. You can have things clipped to the board, to make it easy to change out when needed.
You may choose to use these to clip your writing posters, rather than tacks or staples, onto the corkboard. Anything to save some time!
To organize the different writing papers and templates, a file folder system comes in handy. This accordian-style file folder has multiple sections, collapses when necessary, and is rainbow-colored!
How to Introduce the Writing Center
It is important to introduce students to the writing center BEFORE sending them there to write! Make sure to model the process by which they go through when they get to the center.
Start by showing them what’s included and how each item can support them. Show them the supplies and where to find each item.
Introduce the various assignments and writing activities slowly. After they have had some teaching and practice, add those to the writing center.
Let students know what you expect when they come to the writing center and how you expect them to leave it (neat and in order) when they are finished. Going over expectations is important!
Before sending your students to the writing center:
- Review what 5 Star Writing is by creating a collaborative anchor chart with students. Demonstrate to kids that writing is a development and that they are working towards “5 star writing” when they include details, neat printing, and colorful illustrations in their writing.
- Teach students what writers write and what they do when they write. Create an anchor chart and brainstorm your ideas.
- As you teach writing conventions, you can introduce a writing checklist that students use to “check” their writing for the necessary elements you have taught them.
- Writing prompts are helpful to include during class time and also as inspiration for further writing at the writing center. Tip: Select two prompts ahead of time and have students select their favorite to write about!
- Create a list of future writing topics or a heart map of things students love to encourage ideas to flow. Children often need encouragement to come up with writing ideas and these ideas can help.
Using a Classroom Writing Center to Support and Engage Writers
Your writing center should be fun and varied. If students always have the exact same prompts, they will grow bored. Plus, it will boost their creativity to be faced with a variety of different tools and prompts.
Here are some examples of things you can place in your writing center:
- ‘I Can’ Posters – These posters, aligned with standards, help to keep your students on track with what skills they are learning.
- Checklists – These will help remind your students of things they need to include in their writing.
- Visuals – Completed samples for different writing styles and genres provide visual examples that help students organize their writing and understand what is expected.
- Sentence Starters – Help students get started by providing them with a sentence prompt or different sentence starters to select from.
- Writing Prompt Mats – These kid-favorite activities provide a good way for students to work on a variety of skills while they write. Learn how to use them here.
Fun K-2 Writing Activities
As teachers, we are always looking for ways to make writing fun! Including a variety of engaging activities will ensure that your more reluctant writers find writing enjoyable!
Try the following kid-approved activities to bring fun to your writing center!
- Writing Prompt BINGO – Turn this traditional game into writing fun! As children write about different topics indicated on the BINGO board, they color in a space and work towards getting a line.
- Seasonal Prompts – Don’t forget to take advantage of whatever season you are in – kids love to write about the celebrations and holidays they experience!
- Writing Prompt Spinner – If kids would rather have their writing topic chosen for them, they can spin the wheel to find their writing prompt or genre!
Writing centers are an excellent place for students to practice their writing and reinforce the skills they are learning in class. They don’t have to be complicated or boring! By including fun and variety, you are sure to inspire creativity and confidence!
Writing Prompts for Your Writing Center
To get you started, check out a FREE sample of Writing Prompt Mats.
Get kids excited about writing with engaging prompts!Writing Mats support emerging writers with a picture-word list, fun topic, and conventions checklist. Try a FREE sample today!
You can also grab a FREE set of writing prompt cards that would go perfectly in your writing area! Add them to a holder and place them in your writing center for students to select from.
Click the image below to get your FREE set.
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