Listening centers are popular with kids.

Literacy Center Activities to Motivate Children

by Leyla Norman

Literacy centers are more than just areas with rugs and pillows where kids can read independently. They focus on developing skills in all elements of literacy including reading, phonics, word study and writing. Since kids stay at centers for about 15 to 20 minutes, these centers need to hold their interest and inspire them to learn. Keep a list of center ideas so that you can change them out on a regular basis. New center activities will also keep students motivated.

Artists' Alley suggests having art supplies available for students to create works that respond to a reading. This center provides students an outlet for personal creativity and imagination. They can show you what was important to them from a story, who the characters were or perhaps describe a setting in the story to you. One idea for using this center is to have students create puppets to use on a flannel board to re-enact the story.

Book Boulevard

Another literacy center idea from is Book Boulevard. Organize books according to reading level, and stock the center with pointers and big books. Encourage students to read to each other or to a stuffed animal in the center. They can also tape record themselves to practice reading fluency. Some pillows and a table in the center will make the setting comfortable to students and encourage them to read independently or to someone else. Book Boulevard could also incorporate a listening station in which students can listen to stories on tape or CD.

Spelling and Vocabulary

Students can do more than just test each other on their spelling words in the Spelling Center, according to the description of this center on Create a list of task cards students can choose from that include writing their words in alphabetical order, writing them in cursive, using them in a story or poem or sorting them into categories based on what they have in common and writing them down. Another idea is to write each word once and then again three more times with colored pencils to create rainbow words. Encourage students to highlight prefixes and suffixes as they find them and to make lists of other words they know with them to build their vocabularies.


In the Poetry Center, students learn about different genres of poetry and write their own poems. Some ideas for activities in the Poetry Center from Busy Teacher’s Café include having students copy a poem and then illustrate it, highlighting interesting words from a poem and writing why students think they are interesting in a notebook, and recording themselves reading a poem. Students can also complete a poem cloze, in which they fill in the missing words from a poem. When they are ready to write their own poetry, students can create poems using magnetic poem kits or sentence strips and complete a poem prompt. Working alone or with a partner, students can also memorize and rehearse a poem to deliver to the class. Researching a poem author and comparing two poems with a Venn diagram are two ways students can analyze poems in this center.

About the Author

Leyla Norman has been a writer since 2008 and is a certified English as a second language teacher. She also has a master's degree in development studies and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.

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