Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easy-Prep Writing Centers!

One of the things I love most about first grade is witnessing the HUGE growth in writing throughout the year. By the end of first grade, most of my students love writing and can write several pages on a topic.

We do writer’s workshop in our district,  but I also love to include lots of different creative writing activities during center time.  My favorites are the ones I can reuse over and over again, with minimal prep.

Here, I’ll give you my top 10 easy writing centers- easy to prep, easy to change from week to week, free or inexpensive, and best of all, kids love ‘em because they are FUN!

1. Stamp a story- I think I've bought just about every stamp set from Oriental Trading Co. to make this fun center. I just switch out the set each week to go with our theme. Kids stamp, draw around the stamps, then they can write a story or describe their picture. I have a TON of themed sets. Some favorite themes are birthday, outer space, and of course, dinosaurs are always a hit!
2. Sticker story center! Just change the stickers to vary the theme! I get stickers from the dollar store and let kids pick up to 4 stickers to use in their picture, then draw the remaining scene and write a story. Check out the great freebie (click pic to get it) by Sarah Paul I found on TpT
3. Magazine Center- A Picture is worth 1,000 words! If you have old magazines, simply look through and rip out pages that you think may spark a writing idea! Funny ones are great (can you imagine the story for the cat picture below??), but so are ones that kids can relate to and write about a past experience. If you don’t have old magazines, ask parents- I always get a ton sent in when I do. TIP: go through the magazines to ‘censor’ (rip out pages) before putting them out- kids love to giggle and make fun of underwear ads J.
Another idea for magazine pictures:  I taped small pictures to index cards, then wrote some reference words on the back of each. Kids can use them to write a story OR, you can number 6 pictures, place them in a folder, and have kids write a sentence about each of the pictures! Template included in my freebie.

4. Theme writing center- I like to get kids thinking about our current themes, so I have a theme writing center, which usually has a prompt for kids to write about. Check out this week’s center, Earth Day People, courtesy of Kelly Everoski from Happily Ever After Education. I just love how these came out and the kids LOVED making them!  Click on the picture to see her awesome pack.
5. Word wall story- OK, I must admit, I’m a word wall addict. I love providing theme word walls for writing inspiration, as well as spelling reference. I have word walls for just about every theme imaginable. Here is a FREE one by 2 Super Teachers on TpT that we used for our writing center this week (click pic to get it). Check the bottom of this post for one of my own word wall freebies!
6. Starfall journal- Did I mention I love word walls? Well, I just LOVE these little journals by (If you don’t know this website, you must get to know it! Lots of emergent reading and writing activities.). The journals include writing prompts and mini word walls with nouns, verbs and adjectives students can use to help them. They’re not free, but so worth the small price. I also buy the blank journals to make scrapbooks.
7. A day in the life of . . .  This is your typical “If I were a . . ." writing prompt. Kids love to pretend, so this center is perfect for little minds with BIG imaginations! I like to include craftivities here- for example, after kids write “If I were the Easter Bunny. . .” I would have them create a bunny holding their paper, or “If I were a leprechaun. .  .” they would make a leprechaun holding their paper.

8. Letter-writing center- I don’t have pictures of this center, as I just got back from maternity leave and didn’t get a chance to set it up this year, but this is another popular center with kids. After discussing different purposes for letter-writing, I place letter stationary and envelopes at this center, and a mailbox (made from a shoebox) for kids to ‘mail’ their letters from. They can write to the principal to ask for longer recess time, to the cafeteria workers with lunch requests, or to their friends in other classrooms. Pick some ‘postal workers’ to deliver the letters and this center will be a HIT! I included a template for you also!

9. Greeting card – Who doesn’t love to brighten someone’s day with a nice card? This center is great because kids will enjoy making these cards for different people, so  they’ll keep writing (I have a small collection on my file cabinet already- make sure you make lots of copies!) YUP, you’ll be getting this template for free! =)

10. Riddle center- Riddles are a great way to assess student learning. I use riddles after many topics and have kids match the riddle to the answers. A great center (that can incorporate any other subject) is to have books that go with your theme in a basket, add some index cards and ask kids to write a “Who Am I?” riddle on one side, and the answer on the other side. Then, you can share them with the class as a culminating review of your theme!

OK, so I know this post was long, but hopefully you got some good center ideas for your last couple of months of the school year. And here's a freebie, made exclusively for you! It has some of the templates found in this blog post.

Here’s another freebie from my store. . . with a word wall :), and my newest writing centers pack (not free, but on sale right now :D)!

 Do you have any more ideas for 'easy-to-prep and reuse' writing centers? 

I'd love to hear them!


  1. Love these ideas! Thanks for sharing them. Most are low-prep and easy to implement!

    What I Have Learned

    1. That's the best kind of center, isn't it? :) We have so much to prep already, it's nice when you have low-prep centers that are still meaningful and fun for the kids. Thanks for commenting!