I know some teachers that can get away with using the same five center activities all year.  That seems so simple and straight forward… but I’m always looking for something new to put in the rotation!  My students seem to enjoy some variety as well. So here are some word work/spelling center ideas:

Look, Cover, Write, Check

This one is so easy to set up!  I started with a plain folder and made 3 cuts (only through one side of the folder) to serve as flaps.  I write ” Look, Cover, Write, Check” on the folder to remind students of the steps.  Inside the folder kids will tuck either a piece of handwriting paper or plain paper.

Kids lift the first flap and record the first word they are working on, either from a list on the board, a spelling list in their desk, or a list you include with the center materials.

Look- They look at the word and try to memorize it.
Cover- They put the first flap down.
Write- They lift up the second flap and write the word the best they can from memory.
Check- They open the first flap again and compare the correct spelling with the attempt they just made. 

There are two more flaps so that they can repeat this process a couple more times and hopefully have the word down pat by the last flap.

If kids get the spelling correct on their first try I still have them write the word two more times for practice.

Then they repeat the process for the other words they are working on.

I Spy

I don’t think I’ve ever met a kid (or an adult, for that matter) who isn’t intrigued by I Spy books.  While there isn’t a lot of actual reading in I Spy books, you can set up an engaging word work center with them.
Give students a phonics focus such as: find objects in the -op word family, find objects with the long a sound, find objects with the /sh/ sound, etc.  Kids can look through the pictures and record as many objects as they can find with that phonics pattern.

Click the picture for a FREE recording sheet!

I’ve got a full set of 12 different recording sheets if you’d like to use this center several times throughout the year.



Bendaroos (or the very similar Wikki Stix) are waxy, bendable sticks that have all kinds of uses.  You can put them out as an easy word work center.

Ideas for use:
-spell sight words or spelling words
-make a rime and put different onsets with it
-fill in a missing sound on word/picture cards
-build words and highlight specific phonics patterns with different colors of Bendaroos

Magazine Center

This one is easy and cheap!  Ask parents to send in old magazines when they are done with them.  Add some glue sticks, scissors, and blank paper and you’re ready to go!  Kids can practice a variety of skills by cutting things out of magazines and gluing them down:

-cut out specific letters
-cut out 3 words and glue them down in ABC order
-cut out the letters needed to spell sight words or spelling words
-cut out pictures of things that start with a certain letter/have a digraph in them/end with a certain sound, etc.
-cut out nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.

The cool letters featured above come from letterPLAYGROUND (imagine the art project possibilities!)


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Hannah Braun
Hannah Braun
Hannah Braun is a former teacher with 8 years of experience in the classroom and a master's degree in early childhood education. She designs engaging, organized classroom resources for 1st-3rd grade teachers.