Themed stationery, storytelling bags, and engaging photographs are some of the ways I try to motivate students to write at the writing center. In addition to writing, I want my students to work on their handwriting skills. I have them practice letter formation during center time at least once a week. This center works best if set up at a student table.

Organization and Routines

Designate a Space—This center works best when set up at a student table because it gives students full use of the supplies buckets that are already stored there. Students will need to use pencils, markers, crayons, scissors, and glue.

Organize Writing Paper—In order to maximize the use of space, you may want to use paper tray stackers to hold different kinds of writing paper. I keep vertically lined paper, horizontally lined writing paper, and writing stationery. I also have construction paper available for students to create their own books. You can also supply themed stationery. As each season or holiday comes around, change the paper.

Create Writing Center Rules—Work with children to create rules or steps to follow at the writing center. Be sure to keep the language simple and to post the rules so children can easily refer to them.

Provide Resources—Your students may need some resources to support their ability to work independently. For example, you may want to post a copy of an alphabet chart, or you may want to provide a copy of the word principle that you are currently working on. Ready references such as these will encourage your students to practice the lessons that are being taught in the classroom.

Writing Center in Motion

At this center, children follow the rules that we created together. To motivate children, I often make use of outdated calendars. The photos from these calendars can spark writing ideas for a creative story. Calendars with different themes and photographs are sure to meet the many interests that many children may have. Most children choose to create their own illustration before they write.


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