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The photos and ideas on the following pages are examples of kindergarten literacy activities from my classroom and from Internet chatboards.

Updated 10-13-07






Examples of Literacy

Centers and Activities

Reading/Book Center/Library

  • Begin with a small number of books to choose from in a classroom library and work on book behavior. Students may choose a book from book boxes (leveled books or theme books).

  • Students may choose books to read on their own, with a partner (buddy reading) or with a book buddy (stuffed animal). The teacher may want to stay at this center and read to individuals or let them read to her. Later in the year guided reading groups may be part of this center.

  • Make a rule that children must put the book back on the shelf after they have "read it". Let them know if quiet talking with a friend is permissible if they are reading the same book.

  • A product of this center might be to draw a picture about a book. (A great “I Like” component)

Examples of this center might be:

  • Tape-a-Story: Students can tape themselves reading. Add to the listening center or use for recordkeeping.

  • Sign Language Center: Students use posters, flashcards, and books to spell letters or sign ideas.

  • Magazines: Students may choose Your Big Backyard, Ranger Rick, and other magazines to look through and read.

  • Theme Library: As each new theme or new season comes, have a bookshelf in the room that is full of related books. Students are able to choose some of their favorite stories to read at this center.

  • Reading the Room: Students may choose a pointer, glasses, flyswatters and read the walls of the classroom. They may read the calendar, poems, labels, word wall, alphabet, pocket
    charts and any other print that may be in the classroom.




Writing Center


Students can choose from a variety of writing materials to practice writing letters, names or words. They may also work on writing workshop stories, theme related stories, and other writing activities (lists, puppet show/plays, greeting cards, letters, theme books).

Tips for the writing center include:

  • Snip off corner of pages they have already used and it will be easy for them to find the page they are supposed to write on next.

  • Use a date stamp on each journal page.

  • Provide a variety of writing utensils (colored pencils, markers) and writing materials.

  • Write on dry erase boards, chalkboards, magnadoodles.

  • Provide stencils and stamps.

  • Stock dictionaries in the writing center, such as theme dictionaries like families, fall words, Thanksgiving words, etc.

  • Use these materials to form letters or words:
    a. playdough
    b. shaving cream
    c. cornmeal
    d. hair-gel or fingerpaint in sealed baggies
    e. wikki-sticks

  • This center should have a product.

Examples of this center might be:

  • Make a picture dictionary to go along with a theme. For example, if we are talking about pond animals, they draw a pond animal on each page of their book and write the word, using the words displayed at the writing center. There may be a sentence frame on each page, such as: ______ is my friend.

  • Copy and illustrate words (for example 'My Vegetable Book' 4 pages stapled together in which the Kinders copy the names from vegetable seed packets.)

  • Stamping: Students can stamp out words or sentences using rubber stamp alphabet letters or words.

  • Tablecloth writing (a big piece of butcher paper on which they write "Something I learned about plants" etc.)

  • Write-and-Lift: Use the little pads that you write on and lift up the plastic and the word disappears.

  • Build-a-Sentence: Students choose sentence parts out of a bag. They put them together to make a silly sentence which is copied on to a sentence strip and illustrated. Words are color coded: Articles-yellow, nouns-green, verbs-red, adjectives-pink.

  • Rainbow Writing: Students write words/letters in words in different colors.

  • Journal writing: Students may write on a specific topic given or own choice.

  • Mailbox/Post office: Students can write letters to their friends and family and put in a mailbox.

  • Science Observation Journal: Students examined displays and then draw and record what they see.

  • Stamp-a-story: Students use stamps/stickers to write rebus sentences or sticker story stories.

  • Shopping: Laminated on sentence strips and bound into books—labeled pictures of food, toys, clothing, etc. You will also need writing utensils and "list paper," small memo books,  long strips of lined paper.

  • Patterned sentence and stamps: Teacher writes a SIMPLE sentence using words from the word wall. It may be, "I see a _____." The students write this down. Then they use stamps (letters, numbers, and pictures) and an ink pad to complete the sentence. They reread the sentence and move on to the next sentence.

  • Book Making: Students may create their own books using pre-made books or books that they make themselves.





Listening Center


Students listen to a book and tape. They may be asked to respond by drawing the setting, characters or their favorite part. They might just tell each other which part of the book they liked best.


Sometimes students listen to directions given on a tape to complete a worksheet after listening to a story. (Lakeshore has one with about 8 identical cards for each letter. There is a tape for each letter. The students use dry erase markers and follow the directions on the tape. It tells them what to do and it praises them and corrects it for them. All they need are the dry erase markers and the tissue to erase if they made a mistake.)


Songs: Students listen and sing to songs on tape players or read on cards.


Dr. Jean has a sign language alphabet song and they can follow along on  a sign language chart.





Phonics Center


Students do games, file folders activities, read the room, or use the overhead at this center. The possibilities at this center are endless. Some Examples are:

  • Write the Word Cards: Students use letter/phonic knowledge to write the word on a laminated picture card. There are blanks for each letter in the word below the picture for clues.

  • Word Family Strips: Students use rime fold-overs to create new words in the same "family." Then they record all the words they made.

  • Letter/Sound Match: Students match up objects and letters.

  • Picture labels: Have students use a washable pen to label magazine pictures on laminated file folders. These can be photocopied for assessment.

  • Word clothesline: Students attach individual letter cards with clothespins on small clothesline using clothespins.

  • Sand Table/Playdough: Use Jell-O jiggler molds or cookie cutters to make words.

  • Magnetic letters/words and magnetic boards: Students manipulate letters to spell names, words, or sentences.

  • Letter/Sound Match: Students match up objects and letters.

  • Rhyming Word Match: match picture to word.

  • Word families: Partner Puzzle, Shape book, word building mat, word slide, recording sheet, stationery and worksheets. Scroll down toward the bottom of this page:





Sight Word Center


Word wall words are reinforced through some of these activities:

  • Sight Word Race: Make a graph with 6 columns and 8 rows. At the bottom of each column, put one of the sight words. Use a wooden cube (from a craft store) and make a die, writing the six words on it, one word on each side of the die. The child rolls the die and puts an X in the column above the word that they roll. It is like a "race" to see which word wins, only not competitive against anyone. Each child at the center has their own paper and die.

  • Highlighter Activity: Copy pages from an easy chapter book, such as Junie B. Jones, and the children use highlighters to highlight all of our sight words.

  • Pocket Chart/Magnet Center: Students manipulate sentence strips, words and letters at this center. This should coordinate with a theme or skills being targeted. Students match words/sentences or "fill in" with word cards on charts of poems and nursery rhymes.

  • Word stamps, letter tiles and words, word family activities, rhyming cards etc.




Alphabet/ABC Center


This center uses hands-on materials to help students recognize alphabet letters, write them, match them, sequence them and begin using the letters to spell words. Here are some examples of materials and activities for this center:

  • Alphabet puzzles

  • Magnetic letters, sandpaper letters, alphabet letter stamps

  • Alphabet Bingo

  • ABC memory games

  • Letter matching game with an alphabet chart for reference

  • ABC Beads to spell out words by stringing alphabet beans in order.

  • Letter arcs: Students match plastic letters to their "shadows" in alphabetical order. The other side of the mat only shows the letters: A, M, N, and Z. The students must put the letters in order based on their knowledge. A Letter Arc can be found at the underlined link. Page down to Book One, then Phonics, then Letter Recognition. It's on page 004.

  • Alphabet Flash Cards: Have students read these, put them in alphabetical order, sort into vowels/consonants, play "Go Fish".

  • Magic letters: Students pull sandpaper letters out of a bag. They place the letter under a piece of paper, rub crayons over it, and the letter "magically" appears. Then they can illustrate words that begin (or end, for those who are ready) with that sound.

  • Computer laptops: Glue a copy of the computer keyboard into a file folder and add a handle. Students can practice "typing" names and words.

  • Alpha-dice: Using a multisided alphabet die (Scattergories), students can play (roll the dice, cross the letter off on a page/copy the letter/print the lower case letter it coincides with, etc.)

  • Magazine/Newspaper Search: Have students search for particular letters or words in magazines or newspapers. Highlight these, or cut and glue the letters/words on another piece of paper.

  • ABC Discovery Bottles: Fill water bottles with confetti, alphabet beads, and objects. Write the letter on the lid and hot glue the lid on. Students can move the bottles around and watch the objects, name the objects, draw the objects on recording sheets shaped like bottles, and try to write the names of the items.

  • Use letter stamps or a blunt pencil to create letters/words in clay or playdough.

  • Going Fishing:
    a. Students can fish for words or letters on paper fishes with paper clips using a dowel with a magnet for a fishing pole.
    b. Place plastic or foam letters in a plastic fish bowl. Students use a fish net to scoop out some

  •  letters and print them on a programmed sheet that has four boxes labeled with the numbers 1-4.

  •  Students write the letters caught on first scoop in box 1, etc.

  • Use blocks to make letters, then draw a picture of something that begins with that letter.

  • Chicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom: Draw or paint a coconut tree on a cookie sheet, using clear varnish to seal. Add magnetic letters and the book. Use the letters to retell the story.

  • Alphabuilders: Straight, curved, and half circle parts are used to make letters or words.

  • Shower Curtain Keyboard Games: Cut a shower curtain in half and draw out the keyboard from the
    computer, just the numbers and letters. Have the students (spell) tap out (with the fly swatter) their names at the beginning of the year and word wall words later in the year. This is an easy center also because it can be folded up and put away so easily.

  • Use the other half of the shower curtain and divide it into 24 rectangles. Write a star word in each rectangle. They tap on the words they know or throw beanbags and read the words.

  • Secret Code: Use clipart to make a secret code alphabet. The beginning sound of the picture represents the letter, such as an apple for a, a banana for b, etc. Then use the clipart to create secret code words for the children to decode. The students have to write the beginning sound below each picture to spell a sight word. This could also be done with the children’s names.

  • Fishing: Write the sight words on Ellison cut fish shapes. Put a paperclip on the tip and use a magnet tied to yarn for a fishing pole. The kids go fishing. When a child has fished out all the words, they must call me over to read the words to me. Then we throw the fish back.

  • Use flannel or sandpaper letters on a flannel board and  manipulate letters to make names, words,  or letter sorts.







Story/Retelling Center


Students can tell original stories or retell familiar stories.  Many story props can be found here to print out to use at some of these centers. Some examples are:

  • Use flannel board pieces to retell stories, sequence stories, or make up stories.

  • Puppets: Students use puppets to tell and retell stories.

  • Have a Drama Center using props or costumes.

  • Deal-a-Story: Using purchased cards, students choose one card of each color to write a story about.

  • Chicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom: Draw or paint a coconut tree on a cookie sheet, using clear varnish to seal. Add magnetic letters and the book. Use the letters to retell the story.

  • Use a pocket chart to sequence or retell stories.

  • Photocopy pages from a book to use for retelling.





Overhead Center


  • Students use clear lettered tiles, water-based pens, and other materials to practice stories, letters, names and words on the overhead projector.

  • They can find names/words---just type and print classmates' names or sight words on a transparency and give them a fly swatter to find words that are called out.

  • Print out a dinosaur (or other shape) on a transparency and project it onto a large piece of newsprint. Have them work together to trace it, then paint/mosaic/decorate it. This could also be done with story characters (such as Mrs. Wishy Washy.)

  • Make up shadow stories or retell stories by cutting silhouettes of characters and story props.

  • During Read the Room, a song or poem printed on a transparency can be read off the wall. Pages of a story could also be traced in permanent marker and the children can be the "teacher" and read the story with a pointer.



Big Book Center


Students choose big book stories to reread. They could point out familiar words, practice tracking print, or build the story using sentence strips or words.



Poetry Center


Students choose poetry charts, cards, cubes, or notebooks to reread.


Poetry cubes: Insert two half-gallon milk cartons and cover with contact paper. Add Nursery rhymes, songs, or poems to sides. Students roll cube and read/sing poem on top.


This site has these poems printed out: Jack Be Nimble; One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, Five Little Bees, Teddy Bear. They may be cut apart and reassembled. Look under Poetry at this site:


These sites are good sources for poetry:











Write the Room


Students will use paper and clipboards to copy environmental print around the room.

Here are some insights about the Write the Room Center from Ardis in MI:
Sometimes the words students choose to copy gives the teacher a great deal of information about their confidence and ability and how they 'see' words. The more able kids get a kick out of finding and copying l-o-n-g words (like "Antarctica") off the globe. The less able kids copy "the", "red", "two", etc. How they place the words on a blank sheet of paper is telling, too. Are they jumbled? Are they written in a neat, organized fashion? Was the paper turned in all different directions between words? Are the letters quasi-uniform in size? If the words were placed horizontally, were there spaces between the words?

It doesn't matter if they can 'read' the words or not. I'm not assessing them on that. I want to know if they "see" words or not. Do they recognize that a group of letters is a 'word’---even though I
don't know what it says...I know it's a word. And that's the beginning of reading and literacy.

These activities can make Write the Room more structured:
---Find and copy 5 words that have only 3 letters in them. 4? 5?
---Find and copy words that start with a particular letter.
---Find and copy words that end with a particular letter.

---Find and copy words that begin with the letter of your name.
---Find and copy 1 month word, 1 color word, 1 day of the week word, 1 number word, etc.

---Find and copy words that begin with the letters of a particular "theme word". Example: Find one word that begins with each letter in "W I N T E R" or "R U D O L P H".
---Find and copy X number of classmates’ names.

---Find and copy X number of words that have MORE than 3 letters.

---Find and copy X number of words that have LESS than 5 letters.
---Find and copy X number of words that are on toys, games or the globe.

---Find and copy X number of words from the newspaper.

---Do a "ladder" activity. Find one word that has one letter, then one word that has 2 letters, then one word that has 3 letters, etc

---Do the same thing alphabetically. Find one word that begins with A, one word that begins with B, one word that begins with C, etc.

---Find and write five words written on classmate's shirts. (Tell the children the day before to wear "word" shirts.)
---Find and copy X number of words that are out in the hall.

Sometimes you have to give them specific kinds of words to look for and a specific number of them to find. But a "Free Write" is valuable, too...and some of them love that opportunity!





Sorting Center


Picture-Letter-Word sort: Students sort cards by picture, letter, or words.
Letter sort: Sort alphabet tiles on T-graph

a. "Letters in my name/not in my name"
b. curves/ straight
c. tails/ no tails
d. by particular letter--G/ no g
e. by font
f. short/tall
g. number of strokes
Name/Word sort:
a. boys names/ girls names
b. sort by number of syllables
c. sort by beginning letter
d. sort by number of letters
e. sort by number of vowels
f. sort by category, if using pictures and words





Art Center

Most supplies fit in plastic baby wipe containers.

Add abc stamps and number stamps to art and they can make books.

Use a variety of materials to make products responding to literature read.
a. puppets
b. posters
c. dioramas
d. bookmarks
e. book covers



Computer/Electronic Games


Computer: A variety of language art related software titles are available for the students to use.
Electronic Games: Students work on skill with electronic games like Leap Frog Phonics, Twist and Shout Phonics, and any other game within the classroom.


Developmental Centers


Some teachers include developmental centers  as part of literacy centers, while other teachers have students go to a developmental center following a literacy center activity. Many developmental centers can become literacy centers simply by adding books, paper and writing utensils.


Fine Motor center: Activities to use to strengthen finger muscles.
a. coloring books
b. dot to dots
c. write on chalkboard with wet paint brushes
d. nuts and bolts
e. use tweezers and tongs to move items
f. clip clothespins on side of can, box
g. use stencils or trace simple pictures
h. use Lite-Brite
i. perforate paper using push pins
j. lacing or stringing beads

Playdough: make letters, exploration and appropriate cleanup




Sand table













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