What are Literacy Centers?

K T Solis

A literacy center is one of several learning stations arranged in a classroom designed for students to visit and learn independently. Children often select a literacy center where they can work by themselves or in a small group of children. Literacy centers within an elementary school classroom feature a variety of stations geared toward phonics, phonemic awareness, spelling, reading, and writing.

Literacy centers may help people to develop writing skills.
Literacy centers may help people to develop writing skills.

A literacy center features hands-on activities that reinforce concepts and themes taught in the classroom. Children can practice what they learn in class in an engaging, interactive environment. A literacy center provides students with opportunities to work with others and independently, and problem solve. In order for the literacy centers to be effective, they must be interesting and deal with topics the teacher has already taught to the class.

Literacy centers can help children who are struggling to develop reading skills.
Literacy centers can help children who are struggling to develop reading skills.

Typical literacy center stations in an elementary classroom include a reading center filled with books or big books, a puzzle center that features alphabet puzzles, a listening station where children can follow along as books are read on CD, and a magnetic letter station that uses cookie sheets. Other examples of literacy centers include poem charts where students use pointers to read poetry and rhymes out loud. The type of centers are limited only by a teacher's imagination.

Literacy centers may offer different tutoring programs.
Literacy centers may offer different tutoring programs.

Literacy centers involve a great deal of advanced planning in order for them to be effective classroom tools. A teacher must decide how many centers will be located in the classroom. This depends on her ability to manage the centers and the amount of space available in the room. Each center must complement the skills, concepts, and topics she teaches to her students.

Literacy centers can help with comprehension skills.
Literacy centers can help with comprehension skills.

A teacher must also consider how materials for the centers will be obtained. Purchasing the materials can become expensive, so it is best to use classroom funds if available. If the school is unable to pay for the items, she can solicit donations from parents or local businesses. Using donated items can alleviate some of the burden of buying materials from personal funds.

Each center must have materials arranged in an organized manner so that students can find what they need and clean up when the activity is ready to be put away. The literacy centers should have interesting names so that students are excited about visiting them. For example, a reading station could be called The Story Kingdom. A bookmaking station could be dubbed The Book Barn. The goal is to make the literacy stations seems glamorous to young students so they will want to spend time at each one.

As individual students visit centers, the teacher often works with small groups on reading instruction. Since several things are going on at once within the classroom, it's important that the teacher ensures that students can move easily between each literacy center without disrupting others. The day can quickly become a rowdy three-ring circus if centers are not stationed appropriately throughout the room — far enough away from each other so that the noise level doesn't get out of hand.

All learning centers should be clearly labeled and easy for children to locate. Before allowing students to use the centers, teachers need to show students how to use them. Important rules should be established before kids can use the literacy centers. For example, the teacher should show the kids how each activity is completed and how they should clean up after the activity is finished. The teacher must also establish noise-level rules.

Teachers can use their creativity to devise a variety of literacy stations to reinforce learning. Since children learn best when actively engaged, it's crucial to organize literacy centers that will provide hands-on experience to students as they strengthen reading and writing skills. Whether a teacher decides to work with individual students or small groups within the centers, literacy centers are useful ways to enrich classroom instruction.

Literacy centers within an elementary school classroom feature a variety of stations geared to topics including spelling, reading and writing.
Literacy centers within an elementary school classroom feature a variety of stations geared to topics including spelling, reading and writing.

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Discussion Comments


SurfNTurf - I remember when my daughter was in kindergarten and they had game day on two Fridays a month.

On these days the centers would each have various games pertaining to either math or reading. It was really a lot of fun and parents actually contributed most of the games so there was always something different.

I think that making these centers fun and educational will allow the child to learn without even realizing that he or she is being taught.


Sneakers41 - I wanted to say that when my children were in preschool, the preschool literacy centers involved a multisensory experience.

In one station children practiced forming letters in rice or sand. This allowed the children to really enjoy the task because they could be creative and not necessarily always have to write their letters on paper.

They also had a modeling clay station in which they could not only develop their fine motor skills my forming the letters with the clay but it provided another way for the children to perform the lesson of forming the letters.

I also think that math literacy centers that include math computation drills as well as board games are exciting for kids.

Creating fun literacy centers that allow children to learn in various ways makes them more likely to remember the lesson and retain the knowledge for years to come.


Comfyshoes - I agree with him. “Hop on Pop” by Dr. Seuss was one of the first books my children read by themselves for the first time.

Dr. Seuss books are fun to read aloud and because they are very entertaining and they encourage children to continue reading.

I think that 2nd grade literacy center should include leveled readers and chapter books. Since at this grade the reading levels may vary children should be exposed to books that are relatively easy for them to read so that they gain the confidence as well as books with longer text.

They should also be given longer books to read for homework so that they can develop higher vocabularies and better reading comprehension.

There should also be a mixture of fiction and nonfiction books. Nonfiction books should be given at a slightly lower reading level because they are the hardest types of books for children to read because they are not written for phonetic awareness.

They are written to inform the reader and have them gain knowledge on the subject matter.


I think that literacy activity centers are a lot of fun for kids. Learning spelling patterns through phonics helps children not only learn to read but it also allows them to develop a list of potential words that they will be able to write.

This will help children with journal writing as well as dictation. Elementary literacy centers normally include a lot of phonics readers that promote the phonetic sound that is learned for the week as well as rhyming books and books with alliteration.

Dr. Seuss books are among the most popular books for emergent readers because of their constant repetitive rhyming text that helps to reinforce phonetic patterns. For example, the book “ The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss offers the reader rhyming text to follow the “At” word family as in the word cat, sat, and hat.

He introduces many other word families in the book with a lot of repetition which makes it easier for a child that is learning to read to read his books. His books are great for Kindergarten literacy centers.

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