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Easy Word Work Centers

Planning centers can turn into a year-long chore very quickly! I am all about working smarter and not harder so that the centers I prep can last me all year long. Who’s with me?!

For centers my students complete activities to reinforce sight words. Sight words come easy to some students and are tricky to others. I teach more phonics-based skills and my students complete word sorts at another time during the day. My first graders get all the word work!

At the beginning of the year: I like to benchmark my students. This can be data from district benchmarks, or my own look at how many sight words students know. I use this to place students in a smaller lists of sight words. More about differentiation specifics in a later week, I promise.

During centers: students work on word work mats. The mats are grouped so that students are working on their group of sight words. This makes it easy for students to work their way through the grade-level list and work on the same task all year long.

Word work mats are a helpful because students are practicing their words and using several learning styles. I also encourage students to say the word when they are practicing so that they are not just building and writing. Word work mats prompt students to build the words with letter tiles, trace and write the word, and then tap out the word on a keyboard (These word work mats are great because I can prep them once and they last for years!). If you have technology available, students can hand in a picture on SeeSaw.

The letter tiles the students use are the same differentiated tiles used in small group- one set has images to reinforce letter sounds, which is helpful with decodable words. Click here if you would like to check these out.

After students finish a few mats, they can work on printed pages that they choose from that practice our sight words that have been taught in class. Each week I teach about 4 new sight words, so this allows students to stay on track with current words if they have time. I copy a handful of each of the paper pages (rainbow write, sentences, roll and write, etc.) and students choose their favorites as time allows.

Early Finishers: If and when students finish their centers early, there are a few other tasks in place. The typical rule in my room is to work on other unfinished work first, then choose a new task. If all work is done, students would be able to build words from an anchor chart, complete a word hunt on a white board, write in their writing journal, or complete their enrichment packet. Later in the year I introduce digital sight word and word work centers as well, and then this becomes a choice.

My main goals for centers are to build skills AND create independent learners. Centers are a great way to build independence!

Head over to my Instagram and let me know: what sight word list do you use for your classroom?

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