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Lesson Plan

Literacy Centers: Getting Started

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Literacy Centers: Getting Started

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Recurring Lesson
Estimated Time Introduction: five 30-minute sessions; thereafter: 30 minutes per session
Lesson Author

Vanessa Udry

Tolono, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English


Materials and Technology

Student Interactives






  • Plastic tubs or containers to contain the learning materials for each center

  • File folders for student work

  • Classroom or library books

  • Copies of selected poems

  • Tape or CD player

  • Computer with Internet access or appropriate software

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Story Map

Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Story Map

The Story Map interactive is designed to assist students in prewriting and postreading activities by focusing on the key elements of character, setting, conflict, and resolution.


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  • Print Center Signs and post them where students can clearly see them.

  • Print the Center Assignments sheet, add the names of students in each group, and post at each group's assigned center.

  • Obtain and place plastic tubs or containers within each of the centers.

  • Print Center Expectations. Cut, laminate, and post the four cards in an appropriate area within the center or place them in the tub for that center.

  • Print enough copies of the Center Extension Activities of your choice, and place them in the tub or elsewhere within the center.

  • Print and copy the Learning Center Checklists.

  • Provide a center folder for each student.

  • Determine how students will be grouped during Literacy Center time. Group sizes may vary, but the class should be divided by five to allow four groups for centers and one group for guided reading each day. Groups may be divided by mixed or similar reading abilities. One benefit of mixed reading level groups is that classmates can help struggling students during independent Literacy Centers. Groups with higher needs may be more effective if they are smaller.

  • Organize all the Literacy Centers in a similar way. For example, you can use tubs or containers to keep center activities organized. All of the week's featured materials should be stored in each Literacy Center's tub. The listening center tub would contain the featured book and tape, along with pencils and copies of the selected extension activity. You can include several featured books in the reading center tub to encourage students to self-select books when they visit that center. This organization helps set student expectations, while also allowing more time for working with guided reading groups.

  • Determine your expectations for each center. Where is each center located in the classroom? Do you expect students to work independently or together? Can the students talk quietly? What should students do when they are done early with a center? Will you put the center tubs out, or will students get them? How are centers supposed to be cleaned up when centers are over? You can use the Center Expectations provided or adapt the cards to fit the needs of your classroom.

  • Prepare the reading center.

  • Prepare the listening center using books on tape or CDs from your own classroom, school, or public library.

  • Prepare the computer center. See the collection of ReadWriteThink Student Interactive Tools for resources to use in this center.

  • Prepare the poetry center.

  • Prepare a poem for students to read during the introduction to the poetry center in Session Four.

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