Implementing Literacy Centers in the Early Childhood Classroom April 22 2009

The Importance of Early Childhood Literacy

Kids learn self-directed learning more quickly with effective literacy center activities.

Learning how to read and write is one of the most important keys to a young child's success in school and all through life! Studies continue to show that while literacy skills continue to develop and improve throughout our lives, early childhood is the most critical period of a child’s literacy and language development.

As with any Pre-K or kindergarten learning activities, introduce centers to children slowly (one or two at a time) throughout the semester or school year. Plan the introduction of new centers to develop specific skills development and to model behaviors appropriate to your groups’ age and learning levels.

Learning Centers for Early Childhood Literacy

When implementing pre-K and kindergarten learning centers, educators typically should focus on early literacy activities that teach kids an early appreciation for reading and writing, encourage oral language development and social interaction and demonstrate print concepts and the purpose of print.

Music, rhyming poems, letter and word study activities will be central to your early childhood literacy centers. Manipulatives are also core to your early literacy learning center; unit blocks, alphabet letters, language puzzles and games can all be valuable tools.

Active and Self-Directed Literacy Learning Centers

Literacy center learning helps enhance other aspects of your emergent literacy curriculum; ideas and activities you implement in your early childhood literacy centers are limited only by your own creativity and ingenuity as an educator!

Of special concern to early childhood educators will be the focus on group activities that can become jumping-off points for small group or individual learning centers; self-directed learning center activities should be short, with easy-to-follow instructions that readily engage the relatively short attention span of young learners!

A child with special needs will benefit greatly from early-childhood environments that empower active learning. Center-based learning allows emerging readers to actively engage in self-directed learning based on their own individual abilities and interests.

Some valuable kindergarten center ideas, tools and activities include:

  • ABC Centers - letter writing, letter tiles and manipulatives, letter bingo games, alphabet flip books, etc.; a great resource for ABC centers is the Beginning Sound Materials.
  • Word Study Centers - picture, letter and word sorts; two great resources for word sort activities are Words They Need to Know and the All Sorts of Sorts series.
  • Puppet Centers - stick puppets, retelling popular stories, etc.
  • Poetry Centers - rhyming activities are essential to early literacy skills development; a great resource for kindergarten 
  • Music Centers - like poetry and rhyming, pre-k and kindergarten students learn literacy through singing and music activities.
  • Reading Centers - children’s books and stories are a fundamental building block in emerging literacy development as well as fostering children’s imaginative and creative abilities. Brainstorm reading time activities you can incorporate into your literacy centers.
  • Listening Centers - active listening is also an important part of early literacy. By implementing activities in your literacy centers that reinforce and test young learner’s listening and participative discussion skills, educators can build students’ attention and social interaction skills.

Do you have additional ideas or suggestions on setting up and managing effective literacy centers for Pre-K and kindergarten learners? Please leave your comments below to share your experience with others!

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