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Upper Elementary Reading Centers for the Entire Year

ELA is a huge part of the day in an elementary classroom. There are many standards and skills to cover, in order to help our students develop into strong readers and writers. There are a gazillion (o.k. maybe not quite that many) different ways to cover these skills which can make planning a successful ELA time difficult. And, if we’re being honest, we know that our provided curriculum often does not provided everything we need to have our students effectively master these skills. It’s often necessary to find supplemental practice activities to provide students with the independent practice they need to reach mastery. Reading or Literacy Centers are a great time to provide this practice for our students. Upper Elementary Reading Centers are a great way to incorporate all kinds of reading and language arts practice activities into your day.

fill your reading centers for the entire school year with these reading and language arts activities your students will love

Reading Centers Aren’t Just for Lower Elementary

When we think of centers, our minds usually wonder to the classrooms of our primary friends. However, centers are a super-effective way to continue with reading instruction all the way through upper elementary.

Your students will love interactive small group centers

Centers allow us, as teachers, to address all the needs of our students individually or in a small group setting. We get to do all of this while keeping them actively engaged with standards based, rigorous work.

The process is usually super easy to implement because students have already been trained for “center time” during previous school years.

Some benefits of centers include:

  • Student Choice – kids feel empowered when given the chance to make their own decisions about learning
  • Routines – students thrive with clear, ongoing schedules
  • Collaboration – centers require students to communicate with each other while problem solving which leads to motivation and positive reinforcement
  • Targeted Practice – we as teachers get to target the individual skills that our students are needing to practice

What’s in an Effective Upper Elementary Reading Center

When it comes to setting up centers in the classroom it is important to be intentional. Choose activities that have already been taught so that students can use the time to practice the skills they previously learned. This helps them to work independently and allows you to assess their progress on skills throughout the year.

One of the best things you can do when choosing centers is to think of ways to get your students excited. When learning is fun students are more engaged.

This all may sound great, but you may be thinking, “Who has time for all of this?” With the many responsibilities of an ELA teacher, you may feel like you don’t have the time to plan out and prep for reading centers every week. You might feel as if there’s just no way you can add one more thing to your plate. Well no worries! I’ve put together a full year of Upper Elementary Reading Centers to help you save time while providing quality skills based practice for your students.

Here’s what you’ll find to fill your reading centers with all year long:

#1 Games

simile and metaphor game for partners or teams

Games are a great way to get students excited about learning. They can almost always be played with partners or a group of up to 4 students. This makes them perfect for a reading center! Putting a twist on games that students are already familiar with like Memory or Bingo allow students to work independently. You can also introduce a game as a whole class activity before moving it to a center so that students know exactly what to do.

Each month Upper Elementary Reading Centers includes a variety of language arts games that are perfect for the upper elementary classroom. Some are themed for the month and others can be used any time.

Throughout the year students will work on grammar, figurative language, parts of speech and more through game play. These games are a hit with students and so much more fun than “just another worksheet.” By laminating the game activities you can prep them once and use over and over again!

#2 Reading Comprehension Center

St. Patrick's day nonfiction reading passages

Reading comprehension is best mastered through repetition. Short non-fiction, informational reading passages can provide the meat for one of your reading centers.

This is a great center for you to be a part of. It can include your small group teaching, or be small group work you assign to be completed immediately following your small group instruction.

Having a reading folder for each child is also a great way to track their weekly progress. You can keep data on reading fluency, accuracy and comprehension. This data is a great motivator for students, and it is also a good visual for parents to monitor growth and progress.

December reading comprehension activities for centers

Implementing close reading strategies is another great way for your students to enjoy a greater level of success when reading independently. Students can do the first reading of a close read during small group, and then complete the remaining readings independently.

Each month, Upper Elementary Reading Centers includes four informational reading passages with questions to help your students with this difficult reading genre. These high interest passages will have your students looking forward to each new activity. They are perfect to use in centers or as weekly reading comprehension practice.

#3 Writing Center

Writing centers are a great way to allow students to tap into their creativity while developing important skills. These centers are easy to change out. Students can work on seasonal writing activities or you can math the activity to the skill you are working on. The writing prompt, pre-writing organizer, and final draft paper can all be provided in the writing center. As an extension, students can illustrate their writing and share it with the class.

Through the year you can easily expose your students to a variety of writing styles and tasks. Everything you need for two different writing activities is included in the monthly Upper Elementary Reading Center packet.

Your upper elementary students will love the Hamburger Heaven writing activity.

Here’s just a few of the writing activities you can fill your writing center with:

  • Writing a variety of poems in different styles
  • Descriptive Writing
  • Compare and Contract Writing
  • How To Writing

Not only will your students love these writing activities, but you will love watching as their writing develops and improves. These writing activities can be used in a center or as part of a whole class writing lesson. This provides you with more versatility in using this resource in your classroom. After all, it about making it work for you and your students!

#4 Poetry Corner

Help students with understanding poetry that they read with this April's Prayer poetry comprehension activity

Poetry is often a difficult skill to teach and learn. Reinforcing it through centers is a great way to provide your students with continued practice of these skills. The teaching of poetry often includes reading and understanding poems as well as writing poetry. Activities for both of these skills is included each month in the Upper Elementary Reading Center packet.

Students learn about a variety of poetry types, like free verse, lyrical, haiku, diamante and more. Through reading and writing poetry they are also learning about important language skills like figurative language, alliteration, rhyme and personification. These hands-on and immersive activities also help poetry come to life.

And as a bonus, save the student poetry writing for each month and bind them into their own personal book of poems at the end of the year. Students and parents will love having this keepsake. You can also use the student poems to have a special poetry reading day in April during poetry appreciation month.

Where to Start With Upper Elementary Reading Centers

I hope that you see just how effective and beneficial these center activities are for your students. Implementing upper elementary reading centers into your classroom will be a real game changer! Take all of the searching and guesswork out of the equation and grab the Upper Elementary Reading Centers Bundle. You will have everything you need to fill your reading and language arts centers all year long!

If you would rather grab them monthly, you can find each individual packet HERE. You can find a set for each month of the school year in my shop. Get a sneak peek into each set visit these posts:

Pin It!

Save these Upper Elementary Reading Center Ideas by pinning them to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can quickly come back for reading center ideas that are sure to be a hit in your classroom!

reading and language arts center activities for the entire school year
Shelly Rees

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I'm Shelly Rees of Appletastic Learning. First and foremost, I'm a mom of 4 boys, wife of 25 years to Aric, and Wyoming girl at heart. I love being creative, making resources for teachers, baking cookies, Diet Coke, teaching, public speaking, and spreading kindness wherever I can. After teaching in the upper elementary grades for over 23 years, I retired early and focused on creating and helping teachers around the world with my teaching ideas and resources. I also serve as a mentor to hundreds of teacherpreneurs and help them get focused on growing their own successful businesses. With 100% honesty, I LOVE my life! Thanks for visiting! I hope you'll stay awhile and come back often. Read More

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