By Teachers, For Teachers
Writing centers are an integral part of the classroom, as they provide many benefits. They’re not only a space for students to go and practice their writing skills, but they are also a place where students can engage in the writing process through many different mediums and classroom activities. They offer students multiple interventions that can help address their learning as well as enhance their knowledge and skills in the writing process. Writing centers give teachers the opportunity to offer students a variety of classroom activities that can help develop mastery and content, as well as address individual learning.
Here are a few creative writing center ideas to help spark your students’ imaginations. Try a few or try them all.
A fun and unique writing center idea is to have students build a story by choosing different story elements. Think of this activity like going to the mall and having your students build a bear. First they must choose their bear, next, how they’ll stuff their bear, then lastly, the bear’s outfit. In this case, the students would have to pick a setting, a main character, and an event from pre-prepared choices to create their story. There are a few ways that you can create this center. For younger students, you can give them three choices for each story element. For example, they would choose between a house, a castle, or an under-the-sea theme for the story setting. Next, they would choose between three main characters: A King or queen, a sea monster, or a girl or boy. Finally, they would choose an event that would take place in the story: They can choose between a hurricane, a magical castle, or a fire-breathing dragon. They would then build story by using each of their chosen story elements.
Older students can also use this same idea, but instead of giving them only three prepared choices for each story element, you can give them five or none at all and allow them to choose their own. This is a fun writing center idea that really gets kids’ creative juices flowing. One of the best things about this activity is that you can have them make it as short or as long as you’d like depending on how much time you have.
Roll the Dice is similar to the build a story writing center activity in the sense that students get to choose their story elements. The only difference with this activity is this time, students must roll the dice three different times to see what the chart says to determine their story elements. To get this writing center activity ready, you must first think of six different settings, six different characters, as well as six different plot lines. Each time a student rolls the dice, they would look at a premade chart to determine what each story element would be. Then they’d use each of these elements to write their story. Here’s an example.
Setting: (1) under the sea (2) space (3) home (4) a boat (5) a cave (6) castle
Characters: (1) talking turtle (2) sea creature (3) the President (4) a surfer (5) a laughing clown (6) singer
Plot: (1) running from a dragon (2) stuck under the sea (3) found magic beans (4) at a loud concert (5) a fire (6) stuck in space
Another fun writing center idea is to create story starters. Not only will this help your students who struggle with thinking of story ideas, but it will also help you not have to hear students keep asking “What should I write about?” There are a few ways that you can do this, but my favorite way is to enlist the help of your students. Take some time out of your day to have students brainstorm story starters. Then have each student come up with at least 5-10 different ideas and write them down on a small piece of scrap paper. Once students have written each of their ideas on separate pieces of scrap paper, have them fold them up and place them into a jar. When it’s their turn to go to the story starters writing center, they must place their hand in the jar and choose a piece of paper. Make sure that the jar you choose is not see-through. The idea of this writing center activity is for students to blindly choose a writing prompt. Another way to create ideas for this center is for you to write down a list of about 50 writing prompts and have students choose a new story starter from the list each time they go to the center.
If you ever played the game “What’s in the bag?” when you were little, then you know how fun it can be to close your eyes, put your hand into a bag, and try and guess what you’re touching. This writing center activity is similar to that game. However, with this activity, students don’t have to guess what’s in the bag, they have to take all of the items out of the bag and write a story using those items.
To set up this activity, you must fill several brown paper lunch bags with a variety of different items that students can write about. The items can be anything from a photograph of someone in space to a button from a jacket. The ideas are endless, and you’ll be amazed at how creative your students can get.
Students must create a story foldable that includes their main character, what their character likes, what makes their character special, as well as what their character does. Then, in the middle of the foldable, they must draw a picture of their character and write their character’s name. Once they’ve made the character foldable, they must write a short story about their character.
Do you have any writing center classroom activities that you’d like to share with us? Please share your ideas in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com