Sunday, January 6, 2013

Literacy Workstations: What do they look like?

One of our kindergarteners' favorite times of the day is Literacy Workstations! There are ten total workstations, each centered around an aspect of literacy (reading, writing, listening, speaking, phonics, and problem solving). Children visit two stations a day with their partner; by the end of the week, they'll have visited all ten stations. Our kindergarteners are very independent during Workstations, and since they really value this time, they make sure they are always focused on their station. The activities at Workstation time change every day, so it's an engaging and fun way for the kids to grow their reading and writing skills. Below is an explanation of each of the stations, as well as some photos of the kids in action!

Station 1: ABC Word Work
This is a very popular station since the kids can pick between three activities that change every week. All the activities focus around working with words and letters, especially sight words. Some favorite games are:

  • Moose (Students take turns picking out sight word cards and writing them down - but if they draw the Moose card, they have to put all their cards back!)
  • Roll a Sight Word (Students roll dice, and write down the word that matches the number that comes up)
  • Making letters out of pattern blocks
Two kiddos pick out a game from the ABC Word Work drawers
Station 2: Writing
This station has writing and drawing paper for students to write stories, letters, and poems. It's located just underneath our Word Wall, which displays all the sight words and other words we have learned throughout the year. Students know to use the Word Wall to help them spell very important words! Another popular choice at this station is "Write the Room," where students take clipboards around the room and write down words they find on walls, in books, and on charts.
Busily writing stories at the Writing Station!
Station 3: Buddy Reading
At this station, students set up chairs and read books from our library either together or on their own. We often have a "Book of the Week" that is related to our theme. Last week's book was Snowballs by Lois Ehlert! If students bring books from home to share with the class, we feature them at the Buddy Reading station as well. 
Two buddies reading together
Station 4: Smartboard
This is unsurprisingly everyone's favorite station. At the beginning of Workstations time, when I hold up the board that shows where each student goes for the day, inevitably the four students who will be at the Smartboard let out a "yesss!" At the Smartboard, students play word games from and other kindergarten literacy websites. They use screen-safe pointers to navigate the games. It's a huge privilege to use our fancy Smartboard, so partners make sure to take good care of it!
Taking turns choosing words that have the short "e" sound
Station 5: Poetry
Each week we read one Poem of the Week over and over again, so children become very familiar with it. Then the following week it will be featured in the Poetry Station. Children work together to read the poem that is hanging on the pocket chart; then they arrange lines from the poem (which have already been cut out and mixed up) in the right order on the pocket chart. Last, they arrange the poem lines on paper and glue them down in the right order. If time is leftover, they can color the poem and read it again!
Two partners color their poem after putting it in order
Station 6: Games and Puzzles
At this station, children choose from a variety of board games, puzzles, and word games to play with their partner. This station helps them develop various skills including fine motor, spatial, teamwork and cooperation, and problem solving. I often sneak in a few math games at this station, since kindergarteners can always use extra practice counting and developing number sense!
Two kindergartners work with Ms. Breuer to finish a huge puzzle!
Station 7: Listening Station
Another class favorite, this station features a different book on tape each week. The kids listen to the book together, then fill out a Readers Response sheet independently. The Response sheet changes as the year and their writing skills progress. Right now the students respond by writing the book title, rating the book on a star scale from 1-5, and drawing their favorite part. My eventual goal at this station is to have books on tape read aloud by me, since it is supposed to be really fun and exciting for students to hear their teacher's voice reading a familiar story. Anything to help the kiddos get excited about reading!!

Station 8: Big Books
Here students get to act as the teacher, using my teacher easel and pointers to read large copies of books to each other, sometimes searching for sight words or other featured words. (I write the target words on small cards, and they hold up the cards next to the text to find a match.) They can also choose to read current and past morning messages. (Each day I write a short, simple message for the class to read first thing in the morning. The language is basic and often accompanied by pictures, so it's an easy one for students to master.)

Station 9: Science
This is a special station that seems unrelated to literacy, but in fact I try to use science as way to sneak in more reading and writing, as well as to help students develop their curiosity and sense of wonder. The science activity changes each week, and can be on a variety of topics. This is a relatively new station; so far this year we have explored magnetism and solved a cookie jar mystery using fingerprints and magnifying glasses. Next week we will be making patterned bird feeders and learning about winter birds!

Station 10: Guided Reading
In the future I will do a much longer post on what Guided Reading in kindergarten looks like, but a short synopsis is that students work with me in small, ability-appropriate groups to develop reading strategies and skills. Each week students read a new book that is at their instructional reading level. Then we do a follow up activity related to comprehension, phonics, or other reading strategies. We are lucky to have several parent volunteers, so I am able to lead this station while the rest of the kids are engaged in their own stations! We also often have our assistant teachers, the reading specialist, and our ESL teacher come to help as well.


  1. Thank you so much for this. Sometimes it is hard to get out of the kiddos what they are doing at school! LOVE this blog!

  2. Thanks Beth, I'm so glad it's helpful! I know that "nothing" is often the most popular answer to "What did you do at school today?" :) I'll try to keep more of these type of posts coming!