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June 5, 2018

Differentiated Literacy Centers in a Box

By Brian Smith
Grades PreK–K, 1–2

    Differentiation has been an educational buzz word for quite some time and is an idea that few would disagree with. Of course we want each child in our care to get instruction that has been tailored to their strengths and needs. However, as teachers we also know how extremely difficult it is to achieve a tailor-made education for each student in your class. There are only 24 hours in a day and we have families outside of our classrooms and we need to sleep occasionally.  

    That is why it is so important for educators to not try to reinvent the wheel. Look for what is out there that helps with differentiation, but always look with a critical, educated eye. I have walked into many classrooms over the years that look “Pinterest ready” but Pinterest isn’t pedagogy. Whatever materials we use in our classrooms, we have to make sure they are contributing to our instruction and developmentally appropriate for our students.

    When I was assigned a combination class of kindergarten and first graders this year, differentiation seemed like a pipe dream. I was already planning two reading lessons a day, two math lessons a day, and two social studies and science lessons. However, when I began researching resources to help me differentiate my reading instruction, I found one that seemed to fit my needs exactly: the Ready-to-Go Differentiated Literacy Centers.


    I have taught kindergarten for several years now, but this was my first adventure into first grade instruction, so the first grade kit was my choice. The box set contains materials for four of the big areas of reading instruction, correlating nicely with what I was doing during my table groups. The four areas are: Comprehension, Word Study, Fluency, and Writing. I really liked how my Guided Reading groups focused on phonics and phonemic awareness, based on my Orton-Gillingham training, and my stations focused on these other areas of reading. It all worked together beautifully this year.


    It took a while to break everything apart and get organized, but it was so worth it once it was all complete. Author Margo Southall really covers all the bases that teachers need to include in their reading centers. The box includes 160 task cards, strategy cards, and game boards. There are over 1,000 word and picture cards, prompt cards, and game pieces. I love the teacher’s guide and the CD of reproducible materials.

    This box is all-inclusive and made differentiating for my first graders' literacy stations so much easier. I adore how the kit really did include different activities using the various pathways of learning. The activities use auditory, tactile, visual, active (kinesthetic), and role-playing, which helped give all of my students access to the information that was being presented.


    Not only did the kit make differentiation possible, but it was also sustainable over the long haul of a school year. They have kits for first grade and second grade and I would recommend that every teacher who needs to differentiate, which is a large majority of us out there, look into these kits to help make their days a lot easier to plan and execute.

    Connect with me at my website, www.briansmithspeaks.com, or on Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

    I can’t wait to see you next time.

    Differentiation has been an educational buzz word for quite some time and is an idea that few would disagree with. Of course we want each child in our care to get instruction that has been tailored to their strengths and needs. However, as teachers we also know how extremely difficult it is to achieve a tailor-made education for each student in your class. There are only 24 hours in a day and we have families outside of our classrooms and we need to sleep occasionally.  

    That is why it is so important for educators to not try to reinvent the wheel. Look for what is out there that helps with differentiation, but always look with a critical, educated eye. I have walked into many classrooms over the years that look “Pinterest ready” but Pinterest isn’t pedagogy. Whatever materials we use in our classrooms, we have to make sure they are contributing to our instruction and developmentally appropriate for our students.

    When I was assigned a combination class of kindergarten and first graders this year, differentiation seemed like a pipe dream. I was already planning two reading lessons a day, two math lessons a day, and two social studies and science lessons. However, when I began researching resources to help me differentiate my reading instruction, I found one that seemed to fit my needs exactly: the Ready-to-Go Differentiated Literacy Centers.


    I have taught kindergarten for several years now, but this was my first adventure into first grade instruction, so the first grade kit was my choice. The box set contains materials for four of the big areas of reading instruction, correlating nicely with what I was doing during my table groups. The four areas are: Comprehension, Word Study, Fluency, and Writing. I really liked how my Guided Reading groups focused on phonics and phonemic awareness, based on my Orton-Gillingham training, and my stations focused on these other areas of reading. It all worked together beautifully this year.


    It took a while to break everything apart and get organized, but it was so worth it once it was all complete. Author Margo Southall really covers all the bases that teachers need to include in their reading centers. The box includes 160 task cards, strategy cards, and game boards. There are over 1,000 word and picture cards, prompt cards, and game pieces. I love the teacher’s guide and the CD of reproducible materials.

    This box is all-inclusive and made differentiating for my first graders' literacy stations so much easier. I adore how the kit really did include different activities using the various pathways of learning. The activities use auditory, tactile, visual, active (kinesthetic), and role-playing, which helped give all of my students access to the information that was being presented.


    Not only did the kit make differentiation possible, but it was also sustainable over the long haul of a school year. They have kits for first grade and second grade and I would recommend that every teacher who needs to differentiate, which is a large majority of us out there, look into these kits to help make their days a lot easier to plan and execute.

    Connect with me at my website, www.briansmithspeaks.com, or on Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

    I can’t wait to see you next time.

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GRADES: 1-2
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