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The Power of the Pen: Let Children Choose Writing Centers!

girl writing at table with classmates

“Y-E-S. N-O. L-O-V-E. H-E-L-P.” When children see the power of written words, they want to write, too. A “writing center” gives children easy access to writing materials and lets them enjoy a variety of activities while they learn skills that will help them become confident, competent writers.

What are the basics of making a writing center?

  • A quiet space with seats for two or more at desks or a table
  • Paper: unlined paper, clean scrap paper, outdated business stationery, lined paper, greeting cards, sticky notes
  • Pencils, pens, crayons, chalk, erasers (NOTE: Some children work best with larger crayons or thick pencils. Others do better with thinner pencils or crayons.)
  • An alphabet chart with capital and lowercase printed letters, plus numerals
  • Print samples: greeting cards, calendars, newspapers, newsletters, magazines, handwritten messages, coupons

What other materials might encourage children to visit the writing center?

  • Clipboards: purchased or made from stiff cardboard and two paperclips
  • Colored pencils, nontoxic markers, highlighters, bingo stampers
  • Special papers: envelopes, colored paper, graph paper, postcards, index cards, appointment books, message pads, labels
  • Office supplies: tape, paperclips, stapler, brads, hole punch, scissors
  • Canceled postage stamps, promotional stamps
  • Rubber stamps of letters and words, ink pads
  • Chalkboard, whiteboard, Magna-Doodle, Etch-A-Sketch (These tools save paper and allow children to easily erase “mistakes.”)
  • Magnetic letters or words; alphabet blocks; letters made of wood, sandpaper, or plastic
  • Picture dictionary (Consider adding a picture dictionary or two languages other than English if you have children in your classroom who speak another language.)
  • Storage for children’s work (file folders, accordion files, binders, filing trays)
  • Places to display children’s writing (bulletin boards, easels, walls, doors)

When might a child use a writing center?

  • When they select writing as an activity during choice time
  • When they want to create signs, tickets, or other props for dramatic play
  • When they want to make a message for a friend or family member
  • When using centers is part of the daily schedule

IEL Resource

About this resource

Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
  • Family Child Care
  • Child Care Center
  • Preschool Program

Intended audience(s):
  • Teachers / Service providers

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
Related Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards:
Reviewed: 2023