How to get your Writing Center Rockin'

Writing in the Early Childhood classroom is important.

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Even though preschool writing may not look like traditional writing, it is an important part of the literacy process.

But, have you ever struggled with getting your preschoolers to go to the writing center?

Yep, me too. When given the choice, my traditional writing center with pencils, pens and paper was not too appealing when up against a sensory tub full of sand or a grocery store in the drama center.

My traditional writing center was just not cuttin' it.

The goals I had for my writing center are for children to get a writing utensil in their hand and make marks that are meaningful to them.  I want children to enjoy this experience and I want to throw a little fine motor in there too.

So, I knew- it's time to start changing it up!

My plan was to draw them into the writing center with new, exciting and different materials.  I knew that if I could draw their attention in, they would come and write- as a preschooler can- and my writing center goals would be met.

 But, what kinds of new, exciting and different materials can be added?

Here are just a few ideas:

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Start out simple...

Adding clipboards makes everything more exciting!  Clipboards are a tool children don't get to use too often, making them exciting!

Think beyond white paper...  envelopespost-it notes and index cards are also tools not available to most children on a regular basis- making them exciting and new.

Move beyond just pencils.  Ballpoint penshighlighters and smelly markers make interesting writing utensils for children to explore.



Then, start collecting more writing tools and activities...

Boogie Boards are a fun way to encourage writing, and it erases with a push of a button!

Wooly Willy is an old-school magnetic fun board.  I like it because it gets a pencil-like tool in children's hands and they make strokes to move the magnets inside.

Water Wow is a big hit in our classroom.  You fill up a tube with a paintbrush on the end.  You use the brush on the special cards- we have alphabet cards- and images and colors appear. 

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Need more ideas?

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Managing Centers in Preschool

Let's set the scene for a moment... you just set up an epic pumpkin patch in your dramatic play center. It is complete with pumpkins (uh, I'd hope so), a wheelbarrow, leaves and rakes, a scarecrow, and...yes you get it- the center is AH-MAZING!

So, what do all your children do when they arrive? They race to your homemade Pumpkin Patch! All 10 of them, in unison! You think, 'Oh, how nice this will be- the whole class playing together!' Then, reality sets in and all you hear is "No, I want to be the cashier!" and "Teacher, he just took my pumpkin!" and "OWW! Billy just hit me with the rake!" So much for playing together...

The problem was there was too many kids in one area of the classroom. They couldn't play freely, they couldn't talk out what roles they were going to play because there was just too many of them!

One thing to know about my classroom is that we are play-based. I never force students to go to certain centers, they are allowed to choose where they want to work and whom they might want to work with. That being said, the morning of the Pumpkin Patch they ALL happened to want to choose the Drama Center (of course they did- it is epic after all!).

So, I had to come up with a solution that did not involve micro-managing their choices. So, here it is folks- the moment you've been waiting for... Wait, I am pretty sure this idea has been out there awhile, but it is working for me- so maybe it will work for you?

Limit the number of kiddos in each center! I might have built this up a little too much...please accept my apology. BUT, it is working...really well!

See those signs with numbers on them in the pics above? Yep, those are my little miracle workers, baby! I have some signs that allow 4 students to be in the center (Drama and Blocks) and some that allow 2 students (all the rest of the centers) at a time. Those little silver circles under the number? Washers (make sure they are magnetic!) that I hot glued to the laminated signs.

Then, I bought some thick cardboard pieces from the craft store. I think the ones in the picture above were supposed to be chalkboard labels or something. I added a magnet to the back (buy some thick heavy duty magnets, not that stuff on a roll) and DONE!

Now, when the center is full of names, my kiddos know that they have to pick somewhere different to go until a spot opens up. I have loved the management side of it, but also it encourages some of my kiddos to try out centers they may not have tried before!

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Preschool Writing Center

Ideas and resources for a preschool, pre-k or kindergarten writing center.

Preschool classroom tour

WRITING CENTER MATERIALS

Paper: At the beginning of the year I use blank paper and then transition to writing paper later in the year

Pencils: We like to use golf pencils for preschoolers because the small pencils better fit their small hands

Highlighters: A fun writing utensil to encourage writing or to highlight things that have been written

Clipboards: For students to take writing around the room

Writing Center in Preschool

Small Chalkboards: Perfect for learning to write letters

Whiteboards: Another way to encourage writing with whiteboards and dry erase markers

Magnet Board: Yet another way to encourage writing

Letter Stamps: Large stamps for children to easily grasp and create strings of letters or words

WRITING CENTER LABELS

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