At this center, children can listen to books on tape as they follow along in the text.

Organization and Routines

Materials—You will need a tape player, books, and tapes on which you’ve recorded the books. You might also want to have headphones. It’s important to have several copies of each book at the center, so that each student can follow along in his or her own book. If your children are ready to write in response to their listening, provide a basket in which to store the response sheets. Also provide supplies such as pens, pencils, markers, and crayons

Designate a Space—I set up my listening center at a table in a corner area, so that any sound issues are minimized.

Listening Center Response—You can have your students complete a response after listening to the story. In the early literacy stages, I ask children just to illustrate their favorite part of the story. As the students become more-independent writers, I invite them to write in response to the stories that they read.

Create Listening Center Rules—You can work with your students to create rules or steps to follow when at the listening center. Be sure to keep the language simple and post the rules nearby. Use picture symbols whenever possible.

Designate Listening Center Jobs—One of the problems that teachers often face at the listening center is that children argue over who will press play, and who will press stop. In order to prevent this, you can designate these roles. Note that I include a green star on the rules chart after Step 2, and a red star after Step 4. I also post a chart and use clothespins with a red or green star to indicate who has which job. I rotate the jobs each time a group goes to the center.

Post Job Reminder—To help children be more independent in this center, post a reminder of what the green star and the red star mean.

Label Tape Recorder—I put the same green star on the play button and the same red star on the stop button.

Tip—If you decide not to have children use headphones, be sure that you record your tapes at a volume that students at the center can hear, but that won’t disrupt children at other centers.

Listening Center in Motion

At the center, children choose a book and tape. After listening to the book, they complete a response form. When rules and routines are clearly stated and modeled, children know how to use this center appropriately.


This is an excerpt from Literacy Centers in Photographs by Nikki Campo-Stallone.