How to Setup a Writing Center

Do you wish you had a dedicated area in your classroom for your students to write? Are your students looking all over the room for words to help during writing time? No fear! I’ve got you covered with a quick and simple solution to creating a writing center with ease.

What is a Writing Center?

A writing center is an area/place in your classroom where you put a large majority of your writing supplies. This can include writing paper templates, pencils, crayons, seasonal lists, scrap paper and more. Students can choose to sit in this area if their center is writing. If you allow free writing throughout your day, this can be the dedicated space where they write.

Create a Writing Center in 3 Steps

Step #1

Choose a space. The space where you choose for students to write should be clutter-free. Students should have space for their own materials as well as the materials that they need during their writing time. I put my writing table up against a bulletin board so I can also hang our seasonal words there. These are switched out with new holiday and monthly themed words.

Next to the table, I have a rolling cart that holds extra materials for my students. This is where extra writing paper, list templates, scrap paper and more is held. This way, when they need more of something, they don’t have to walk across the room to get it. If you have a large enough table, you could place a paper tray on the table for easier access. However, I don’t like for my students to “look at” the extra paper. They tend to use it more when it’s out in the open. This paper tray below is from Lakeshore Learning.

Step #2

Find materials that may be of use to your students and put in the writing center. I also create a word wall in my classroom. This is not by our writing center, but I do tell my students that it is apart of our writing. The past few years, we have used a movable word wall. The students are able to grab a ring of words and take them back with them. When they’re finished, they take it back. This helps students be able to spell their friends’ names, introduced sight words and any other words I’ve added to our rings.

Some other ideas is to have parents donate unused things to write on from home. This can be an old box of holiday cards that weren’t used. Students can create cards. Any scrap paper that may be decorative or fun to write on. Cards with sight words, themed words and more to help with spelling.

Stickers and stamps are another material that can be used in the writing center. When a student gets hung up on writing the same thing day after day, I like to give them a few stickers (they choose) or stamps to put in their picture area. They can add more details to make it a real picture. However, they have to write about those stickers or stamps. This stops the same, “I love my mom” pieces that we have to read every day and get them out of their comfort zone. You can find similar stamps and stickers in my Amazon store.

Step #3

This is probably the most important part. You will have to explicitly teach your students how to use the writing center. My favorite way is to have quick lessons or mini-lessons on different parts of the writing center. We practice, practice and practice some more until I think I’ve overdone it. You can never show them enough times on how something should look.

Once my students have the routines and procedures down on how they should be working, what they should be doing and how to use the materials, I know they’re ready to independently use the writing center without the helicopter teacher that I used to be hovering over them.

You’ll be so excited that your students will be happily working and writing away.

Try Not To Tip

With any writing in my classroom, I’ve had to come to the realization that I need my students doing their own writing. Try to avoid giving your students writing to copy just for handwriting purposes. Unless there is another skill involved, let them write their own thoughts.

I used to see a lot of newer teachers writing sentences on the board and students would have to copy them. I used to do this as well. It’s not writing. It’s copying. We don’t teach nor need to teach copying unless there is another skill we’re checking for like comprehension or sentence structure or illustration detail.

Make Your Writing Center Magical

The main thing I want you to do is create a space in your classroom that your students will spend time writing in. It can be a little nook or corner or a larger table with many materials. Whatever the space, make it work for you and your students.

Spice it up with fancy crayons like twistables or the amazing *colored pencils*, lol! Pens, fancy pencils and more can be a simple way to motivate your students into loving writing.

Free Writing Center Cards

To help you get started with your writing center, I have some cards for your wall or for you to put in your writing center. These come from the I can be a writer, too set. Just print, laminate and add them where you’d like. They help kids spell words without asking you how to spell it! Click here to grab them!

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