Literacy centers are ideal for immersing students in short vowel and long vowel words and ELA skill practice. Reading centers give children plenty of opportunities to learn patterns in words and different word families, build their reading confidence, and apply their knowledge.
Using Literacy Centers to Teach Short and Long Vowels
As a teacher, you hear the term “literacy centers” or “reading centers” used repeatedly. These two terms are used interchangeably and are the activities that students complete independently after learning a literacy skill.
Literacy or reading centers can include word work activities where students build, write, or identify sight words, short vowel words, and long vowel words. These centers also might consist of games they can play to practice their fluency and silent reading to get used to independent reading.
Imagine this: Your student, Jose, comes to small groups each week and has difficulty sounding out the words on the page. He’s reading one of the lower levels of books and quickly jumps to conclusions when sounding out words. Finally, he gets frustrated and gives up before finishing the text.
How can you help him?
Literacy centers are the perfect time to practice reading skills like Jose is working on. During center time, assign him tasks that have him breaking apart and putting together short vowel words. By immersing himself in these words, he will begin to see how they can help him read the words in the text.
Imagine this: During reading times, you notice that Maria will read certain words, but when given new words in the same word family, she struggles. She doesn’t seem to understand that word families all end the same.
She needs more practice.
Students like Maria benefit from repetition with word families. This includes short vowel and long vowel words. As students increasingly see these words in the games they play, the worksheets they complete, and the texts they read, they realize how simple they are to decode and read.
Why Teach These Skills
Teaching reading skills and phonics with short and long vowel word families is necessary because it helps students become comfortable with words they will see commonly in text. In addition, if you expose them to word families, they will realize how new words sound when they see them because they rhyme!
As you teach phonics word families, point out word endings and ensure students notice that just the beginning is changing. This makes it easier for them to decode and read when they come across new words.
When to Use These Activities and Centers
Practice with long and short vowels should occur regularly. Any chance you can get to work on word families is a perfect time.
Whether students will be working on the activities independently or with a group, here are some ideal times to use the activities.
- Literacy Centers – Lay out the activities for students to work on with partners or on their own.
- Small Groups – Use the activities during small group time to practice skills as students need assistance.
- Morning Tubs – Print and laminate the materials and allow students to practice their long and short vowel knowledge as they settle in the classroom.
- Early Finisher Activities – The vowel activities are perfect for extra practice when students finish their original tasks early.
- Intervention Times – Use specific skill sets to help students in tier 2 and 3 groups. These are perfect for students working on reading and writing long and short vowel words.
- Homework Practice – Print sets to send home with students to work on with families.
- Partner Games – Kids love games, so use these as a little challenge among peers. See how many they can read and identify in a set amount of time.
- Whole Group Lessons – Display the activities on the board or screen and let kids help you read and write the correct words.
How to Set Up and Organize Your Reading Centers
Literacy centers don’t have to be complicated! One of the easiest ways to set up your centers is to decide how many different centers you want based on the number of kids in your class. Keep in mind this number may change.
Some common literacy centers include word work, writing, technology, reading to self, small groups/teacher time, sight words, and partner time. Which centers or stations you use is entirely up to you.
When organizing your reading centers, have bins or baskets to keep materials in. One of the easiest ways to manage your word work materials is to set them in different containers. The students know exactly where the bins sit. You can even label them with a sticker, tape, or printable label.
9 Literacy Center Activities You Will Love
Students use the letters of the word families and the corresponding pictures to complete small puzzles. There are two different types of puzzles available. The kids will line up the images with the letters in the correct order until they get the right answer. This teaches kids to use the letters they have to create known words.
Using playdough, students will create letters to form words in a given work family. They will also write the words they create with a dry-erase marker for extra practice. Both building and writing the word will help solidify their knowledge of the long or short vowel words.
The cards are great for small or whole group lessons. Display them on a table or pocket charts to introduce students to new word families and words. Many teachers like to laminate these cards for multiple uses. Once they are displayed in pocket charts, students can refer to them repeatedly and sort them as they learn new words and word families.
Color by Word Worksheets
Use the color key to complete the picture. Students must color the image based on the words at the bottom. This teaches kids to work slowly and to pay attention to what they are doing and the words they are reading. If they color something wrong, their image won’t be correct. These are great practices during morning work or as fast-finisher activities.
Stamp, Draw, & Write Words Worksheets
Kids love to rainbow write their word letters. Use these worksheets to stamp the word, draw the work, and rainbow write it. Creating the word in multiple forms will help students learn and remember the new word family before they put it into practice elsewhere. Rainbow writing is a fantastic tool for students to write a word repeatedly and commit it to memory.
Spelling Cards with Letters
Students use the pictures to identify the words. They will place one letter in each bubble to complete the word family. The bubbles help the students see each part of the word and word family and break them down into individual sounds. This visual aspect will help them remember the spelling pattern when they see it appear in the future.
Assessment Sticker Books
Kids will love keeping track of the words they know using these simple sticker books. Each time they master and can read a word, they add a sticker next to the word. Use these to track their progress and reward them! These are great tools for conferences with parents as well.
Early Reader “Make-and-Take” Books
Two types of books are included that require kids to cut and put their books together. The kids read and trace the word families and add colorful pictures. Seeing the words in books shows students how well they are mastering the words they are learning. They will love re-reading the story to friends and family for extra practice.
What Teachers are Saying …
This is my go to resource when working with word families. My students really enjoy the activities and I love that everything is included and available in one place. Highly recommend! Sarah C.
This resource made planning & prepping for my literacy program so easy! Students love the activities and have become familiar with the routines. – Lara G.
I love this resource! There are so many activities to use during centers and the students loved them! – Lindsay K.
I’m very happy with this resource. Students are engaged and it covers a wide range of phonics patterns. – Courtney B.
Word Family Activities for Literacy Centers
Try the Word Family Activities by Proud to be Primary and find fun ways to incorporate games and activities into your reading centers. Students will gain confidence as they work with the fun Short Vowel Word Families and Long Vowel Word Families activities!
FREE Short A Word Family Activities
Try some short vowel activities in your classroom with the FREE Short Vowel -AT Word Family Activities! This sample comes with many activities, such as word family puzzles, a color-by-word activity, a playdough mat, a fill-in-the-blank worksheet, a mini book, and more.
Use them in your literacy centers to help students feel confident reading and identifying the -AT word family. They’re great to use for both independent practice and small group work!
Click the image below to grab a copy.
More Word Family Activities for the Classroom
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