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Perfect Reading Learning Centers Quickly and Easily

Learning to read is an essential part of any child’s education. Teachers, however, can find it challenging to teach large groups of students at once. Because every child learns information differently, it can be challenging to instruct and encourage young students to read. Learning centers are one of the many helpful methods teachers can implement and see growth as they teach children to read.

What are Learning Centers?

Learning centers are implemented in classroom settings. They are designed to help students understand words, reading, and writing as they participate in various activities. Learning centers are characterized by several activity stations that are placed around a classroom. Students are separated into small groups of two or three. Each group begins at a different station. The students then have a certain amount of time to complete the station’s activity before they rotate to another project.

For example, a teacher may set up five different activities around the classroom, each involving reading, writing, or practicing a literary skill. Students will be separated into five groups; one group for each station. Students will then spend time at each station and move on to the next activity at the direction of the instructor.

For students under the age of 8, each station should take no more than 15 minutes. Older students can spend up to 20 minutes at each station (Alison). Limiting the amount of time per activity helps students focus and prevents them from getting tired, bored, or overworked.

What Activities Should Be Included In Learning Centers?

Learning centers should include a variety of activities that prove fun and educational. Because learning centers provide an opportunity for the whole class to participate, it is valuable when the teacher includes a variety of activities that will be engaging to every student. The following activity suggestions may prove helpful to teachers as they organize quick learning centers and encourage their students to read:

Independent Study

Independent study is helpful for students learning to read. Reading independently allows growth, encourages students to work through complicated words, sounds, or passages, and strengthens their skills as they rely on their knowledge and experience.

Independent study can be one of the stations in a learning center. Teachers can direct the group of children to a table or group of chairs where the students can sit next to each other but read on their own. Students can study from their own books, or the teacher can provide reading materials at the station. Do not force students to take notes or write about what they are reading in this station. While note-taking is an excellent habit to develop, this station’s purpose is to encourage students to read, not analyze text.

Group Study

Just like independent study, reading with a group is practical in a learning center. Reading with a group helps increase the students’ comprehension of the text’s meaning. Students will gain confidence in their reading abilities as they read level-appropriate passages and stories out loud. As students learn in a group, they should discuss their feelings and ideas concerning the text and help each other strengthen their reading abilities.

There are many ways to implement vocal reading in an activity station. The assigned group of students should gather at a desk or in chairs. They can all read from an individual copy of the text or can share books with their classmates as they read.

Here are several ways in which students can practice reading out loud with a group at an activity station:
  • Students can read with different emotions or voices (Barrett). Teachers can label popsicle sticks or slips of paper with emotions such as “silly,” “sad,” “happy,” “angry,” or with descriptive words such as “loud,” “soft,” or “gentle.” Students can pull a slip of paper or popsicle stick out of a bowl or bucket and read with the emotion indicated on the stick or paper (Barrett).
  • Students can find a partner and alternate reading paragraphs from a magazine, picture book, or story (Florida!).
  • Assigned groups can come together as a book club and discuss what they have read from their assigned book. They can recite passages of the text together, discuss their favorite parts, and have discussions about what they have learned (Florida!).
  • Students read a poem, story, or article as a group. Together, they discuss and write down ideas about the text’s meaning and analyze its components.
Study with the Arts

Including opportunities for arts during stations can help students have fun, be creative, and develop a deeper understanding of what they read. Using dramatic arts such as dancing, drawing, painting, or singing can help students work off extra energy, work as a group, and learn many skills.

Teachers should assign students to an open area or a station with tables and chairs, so students have room to read and create their art. Some practical activities include the following:

The assigned group of students should arrive at their station and read a short story, fairytale, or paragraph. They should then summarize the story with a short play or puppet show (Alison).

Students read a short story, magazine article, or fairytale. They then draw their favorite scene from the account using crayons, pencils, paint, and paper.

Students read a story about singing or music. Then they create a song or sing a song that they all know.

The teacher prints out the words to a familiar song. The children read the text together, sing the song, and make a dance to accompany their singing.

Students write their own poem, story, or picture book.

The aforementioned ideas have been proven as effective, successful, organized learning centers. As students read independently, study in groups, and incorporate the arts into their education, they will learn to read and write fluently.

Teachers should closely monitor the learning center activities to ensure that their students do not get distracted or fail to complete their tasks. Teachers will find it rewarding to watch their students teach themselves, learn from one another, and apply what they learn. When facilitated correctly, learning centers with organized stations are proven to increase academic improvement in the classroom.

Alison. Learning at the Primary Pond, “Literacy Centers That Work,” https://learningattheprimarypond.com/centers/learning-at-the-primary-pond-literacy-centers-kindergarten-first-second-grade/. September 9, 2017.

Florida!, Just Read. Reading Rockets, “Literacy Centers,”  https://www.readingrockets.org/article/literacy-centers.

Barrett, Lindsay. We Are Teachers, “40 Ideas for K-2 Literacy Centers,” https://www.weareteachers.com/literacy-centers-ideas/. September 25, 2019.

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