Day 5 of my 31 Days of Kindergarten series and it’s time to chat about How to Start Literacy Stations in Kindergarten.
Stations are my wheelhouse and I feel very confident introducing and running them in my classroom. I have taken several workshops dedicated to literacy work stations and eventually got the opportunity to become a part-time instructor for a state funded professional development entity, instructing teachers about literacy stations. The method I follow and teach comes from Debbie Diller and her book, Literacy Work Stations.
I have yet to find a system or structure that works as well as Debbie Diller’s literacy stations. And yes, I have attended the Sisters workshop and even implemented some of the Daily 5 strategies. But ultimately I found literacy work stations to be the easiest to implement and the most effective for kindergartners.
What are Literacy Stations
A literacy work station is an area within the classroom, where students can work alone or with a partner and use a variety of activities to practice instructional content, at their own independent level. Stations don’t have to be kits you buy or boxes you purchase at teacher stores. The beauty in literacy stations is that the activities offered at each station are specific to the content that you have taught in whole-group or small group, where the students already have seen the materials and then get a chance to practice. 🙂
When Do You Start Literacy Stations
I start ‘official’ literacy stations usually 3-6 weeks into the school year. Why is there such a wide range? It depends upon my class and my students abilities. Some years I have a class full of good listeners that catch on quickly to my expectations and procedures. Other years require more time practicing the class rules and procedures, which results in rolling out literacy stations later. Tip: Do not rush into stations. Whether you are trying to stay on track with your pacing guide, or keeping up with your teacher friend next door…DO NOT RUSH and skip establishing strong rules and procedures. This will only result in shoddy stations, with students off task and not able to practice the skills you have intended for them. Always do what is best for your students and classroom. I promise that taking the time at the beginning of the school year to prepare your students for literacy stations will pay off in the long run.
If you read my First Day of Kindergarten post, then you read how I start ‘stations’ on the first day of school. While this is not what my literacy stations will look like in 3 months, this introduces my students to staying in one place (not wandering aimlessly around the classroom), following directions, listening for the transition chime, and learning to transition to and from the rug/classroom carpet and to stations.
Steps to Starting Literacy Stations
I am going to give you some simple steps to setting up each and every literacy station. The steps work for each and every station that you roll out. I roll my stations out one at a time, after establishing the rules, procedures and modeling that specific station. Here are the steps that I follow.
- Introduce stations rotation method. I use a pocket chart with station picture labels. I know some teachers use their smartboard, but whatever is your style and works for your students and classroom. (You only have to introduce this chart the first 2-3 times, until students understand it.) Want your own set of Literacy Stations Label Cards? Click the image to access your FREE copy!
- Introduce station name; show where it is located and display the station sign/label, so students can easily identify it.
- Create an expectations & rules anchor chart for that station.
- Teach the students about the different materials available for this station and how to use them. (At the beginning of the year you will not have all the materials available, just maybe 2-3. You can introduce new materials as you teach new skills and time elapses.)
- Model the desired behavior and demonstrate how to practice the skill(s) intended.
- Have student(s) model walking to station and what they would do when they get there.
- Address any potential ‘problems’ that may arise. (ie: broken pencils, additional options, technology errors, etc.)
- Options for students when they ‘finish’. (I rarely have this happen, since almost every activity at my stations is open-ended, plus I have a variety of optional activities as the school year progresses.)
- Practice, practice, practice!!
In the beginning of the school year, students ‘practice’ in small groups that decrease in size as I ‘open’ more stations. The goal is to have 9-10 stations up and running, with 2 students at each station. I plan on going into detail about each of the stations that I implement in my classroom. The following are the stations that run in my classroom.
- Library/Read to Self
- Computers/Listen to Reading
- Write the Room
- ABC Word Work
- Pocket Chart
- Sensory Table
- This is also when I pull my Guide Reading small groups, which you can read about here.
Please leave me any questions or comments that you may have or want me to answer. I love to help my fellow teachers!
Have you been following along with our 31 Days of Kindergarten posts?
You can check them out here: