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.

  1. 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!
  1. Introduce station name; show where it is located and display the station sign/label, so students can easily identify it.
  2. Create an expectations & rules anchor chart for that station.
  3. 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.)
  4. Model the desired behavior and demonstrate how to practice the skill(s) intended.
  5. Have student(s) model walking to station and what they would do when they get there.
  6. Address any potential ‘problems’ that may arise. (ie: broken pencils, additional options, technology errors, etc.)
  7. 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.)
  8. 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.

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:

1st Day of Kindergarten

Procedures and Rules for the Kindergarten Classroom

First Week of Kindergarten

Music and Movement in the Kindergarten Classroom

22 Responses

  1. What, specifically, do you use for the chime? Thanks so much for all of this. I appreciate it.

  2. Hi, I was wondering if the small groups that you meet with during stations are one of the stations, so you are a station or do you pull the kids from the station they are working at?

    1. Yes, I am a station…but no I do not put myself in the rotations. I call over the students I need and they leave whatever station they are working at to work with me. There is never any issues, since students can work independently and stations and do not require a partner. I do not include myself/small group in the rotations, as I don’t call small groups on Fridays, since that is my day to assess and monitor. This also works out if any issues arise with a teacher/admin who comes into my room, or an issue with a student. Students do not have to sit at my teacher table and wait for me, while I address these adults or student issues. Hope that helps!

      1. Can you share:
        1-a picture of your pocket chart that shows how students know where to go and your management end of it?
        2-give some ideas of what you have up and running in the stations at this time of year now tey know the flow and expectations?
        3-do you have a spot on your website that shows centers weekly or monthly to get new ideas for myself?
        4-example of your small group meetings and what you are doing with each leveled group

        Love your ideas and always seem to feel I need to improve with this-lookikng forward to an info you can share! Thanks again!

  3. Hello Abigail!

    Thank you, again, for this info! It is so helpful. Would you consider doing posts for your Write the Room, ABC Word Work, and Creation stations, as well?

    Also, do you do math stations?

    THANK YOU for all your help. It is really so useful for a new teacher, like me. 🙂


  4. Thanks for this Kindergarten focused post on literacy work stations.

    For your 9 stations, which do you introduce first? At what pace do you introduce them? How long until you have all 9 going?

  5. Can I please see what your chart looks like for stations? Is there an article about how you pull kids to work with as stations are going on? Thank you!

  6. Bravo….. I taught kindergarten for 25 years and this is exactly what I did! During that time I had over 1000 teachers come observe because they couldn’t believe that my kiddos worked independently . I did workshops sharing not only the process but the actual activites

    1. Karen, will you share a picture or details of how you set your station cards so the students know which station to go to next?

  7. Can you share a picture or details of how you set your station cards so the students know which station to go to next?

    Is there a direct link to your blog post about literacy stations and work examples for each center?

    Do you also do math stations?

    Thank you

  8. I am trying to get a copy of your literacy station labels. It says to click on the picture but it is not working. I was wondering if I could get a copy or if you could tell me where to find them on TPT.
    Kari Reynolds

  9. Hi! How long are the students at a center rotation, and how many rotations do you do a day? Also, if you pull students at a center, and they are not able to finish it, what do they do about that?

    1. Every teacher is different, as well as academic required minutes. So do what fits your schedule and requirements. For me, I did (3) rotations of 15-18 minutes per station. During this time, I was pulling students for small group, targeted instruction. Most of the activities at stations are open-ended and did not require ‘finishing or completing something. Occasionally there were response sheets and I did not require them to be completed. Creation station projects or anything that NEEDED to be completed and turned in, I would have them place in their cubby to return to at a different time and complete.

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