Setting Up A Writing Center and Freebies

I love my writing center!  I finally took the time to organize things so I am slowly introducing different types of writing to the writing center as we learn about them in our curriculum.    Let me tell you a little bit about what you see here.

First Things First

My writing center is right next to the classroom door where my kids enter every morning.  My classroom isn't very big (cue 50 people emailing me to tell me that they are teaching 35 kids in a former milk cooler...sorry about that!).  Everything in my classroom has more than one purpose.  My writing center is also my "sign in spot".  The first thing my kids do when they arrive in the morning is to sign in for snack time milk.  In my school, they get to choose chocolate or white milk every day.

When I taught preschool a million years ago, I had a sign in procedure in which the name cards were already written for them.  In kindergarten, I have them sign in every single day.  

We use(d) Handwriting Without Tears in our district, so my sign in tickets have a "starting corner".

Most of my kids come in able to write their names, but in all caps.  When they come back from Thanksgiving Break, my expectation is for them to write their name "The Kindergarten Way" (Capital letter at the beginning and lowercase for the rest).  Here is a freebie of my sign in tickets.  

I print them on card stock, and cut them apart.  They sit in a little basket on the writing center.  The kids write their name on the name ticket, then put it under white milk or chocolate.  I save the name tickets from the first day, and the end of each trimester, and glue them on a sheet all together to show growth throughout the year. 

What Can I Write?

I have center time for 30-45 minutes every day.  When I say "center time" I mean good old fashioned centers...blocks, dramatic play, paint, and of course, the writing center.  I feel VERY strongly about the importance of play in the kindergarten classroom...but that's another blog post.  :)

I introduce my writing center very early in the school year.  I make a point to talk about how the writing center is different from the art center.  The writing center is a quiet center for just two (lucky) friends, and it is for writing.  

I have 7 different writing forms at my writing center.  I introduce them slowly in this order:  

1.  Postcards
Postcards are printed on cardstock.  There is room for a picture on the back, a   sticker "stamp", a To and From spot, as well as room for some writing.

2.  Labeling
I have some simple pictures of castles, circus, farm, etc.  The kids can choose a picture they like, color it, and label it.

3.  Cards
Cards are printed on cardstock, and folded to look like a card.  We have birthday cards, get well cards, and thank you cards.  I also add different cards for Holidays.  A local Hallmark store donates unused envelopes to our school (by the BOX load).  I add those to the card bin as well. 

4.  Surveys
Surveys are WILDLY popular in my classroom!  They are on a half sheet of paper, include things like cake/icecream  football/soccer   pirates/princesses   dog/cat as well as some blank surveys.  I include some small (half paper sized) clipboards in the bin as well.  

5.  Lists
I usually add this bin around Christmas time when my kids are excited to make wish lists.

6. Stories
These pages are very much like our journal papers.  A great place to draw a picture and write a story.

7.  Books
These are also a favorite.  I copy the cover paper on colored copy paper or card stock, add a couple of sheets or copy paper, fold in half and staple to make a book.  I sometimes ask parents to help staple them for me.  They LOVE to make books, and especially love when I read one of the books at the end of the day!

Can't picture what I am talking about.  Check out my forms by clicking below!
Writing Center Samples and Forms
(click on image for link)

Getting Them To Write

I keep a close watch on my centers, and when I notice that the writing center is losing its popularity a bit, that is when I  introduce something new.  It might be time to add another writing form, some new pens/pencils, some thin crayola markers, or smelly markers.  

I also make a BIG point of showing off awesome work at the writing center.  I often will stop everything in the classroom to have everyone take a look at the cool book someone created, or to praise someone for making a "Get Well" card for a student that is absent.  Like anything else in our kindergarten world...if the teacher "endorses" it, suddenly everybody wants a turn at that center.

Let me know if you have any questions!  I love hearing from you!

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