This year I have 4 literacy centers per week. Because my schedule is kind of "messy" on Mondays, I decided not to have literacy centers and fill that block with Science and other whole group literacy work.
During the one hour block, half of the children are working around the perimeter of the room at tables doing literacy centers. In the beginning, the centers include many exploration activities -- activities that allow children to learn how to work independently. The other half of the class are working at their tables on their journals. We write EVERY DAY! On Mondays, the children will write in their Monday Journals. (This serves as a weekly measure of their growth in writing).
It is much easier to write with more children when there are only 8 or 9 writing. (Yes, my class is small this year -- 17 kids right now, and declining because of a change in our Air Force Base's mission, but I had 21 last year, and this model still worked great!!). Soon, I will start having more in-depth conferences with 4 children every day - working on specific skills they need.
After 30 minutes, we gather as a whole group, I teach a mini-lesson or we do a quick activity, and the groups switch. The group that was working at a literacy center will now write in their journals, and the kids writing in their journals will now do a literacy center.
This shows the separation of groups for literacy centers/writing. The top group always does the literacy centers first. The bottom numbers are for my math centers.
The children do one literacy center a day, and by Friday will have completed all of the centers. It can be a bit more work to plan new literacy centers every week, but I have found that I can better target the skills that the children need when the centers keep changing.
These are the alphabet boxes from Lakeshore Learning.
Matching upper and lower case letters.
These are from Lakeshore Learning (I think they're discontinued now). There are tiny letter beads inside of the shaker. The children shake it, find and identify the letter, and then color it in on their sheet. You could also use a water bottle with rice and beads or a baby soda bottle.
One of the children discovered a GREAT way to use the magna doodles -- instead of copying the letter, lay the letter card directly on top of the magna doodle and trace the letter! This gave me the idea to make transparencies to lay over the top of the magna doodle. You can do a variety of different skills!
If you would like to download a set of ABC outline cards for play-doh letters, you can download Kim Adsit's for FREE here.