Low prep Reading centers do exist! These engaging low prep Reading centers for K-2 will save teachers precious time. Also, these learning centers will provide students with engaging and meaningful practice activities. As an added bonus, yes there is more! The best part is that teachers will already have most of the materials for creating these centers in the classroom. Wait! There is more! Most of these centers can be reused throughout the entire year!
Tic Tac Toe
A favorite among students, Tic Tac Toe! It encompasses several skills in one game! Reading, writing, and spatial awareness practice in one low prep center! The best part about this game is that to change it up each week, you just need to change the word list!
- Tic Tac Toe Board drawn on paper
- Plastic Page Protector (or scrap paper)
- Dry erase marker and eraser
- Sight/Spelling Word List (or alphabet/numbers for Kindergarten)
You can replace all materials with scrap paper, a pencil, and a word list. Students can draw their own tic tac toe boards!
For this game students first, pick a partner. Second, they choose a word from the list. Third but most importantly, on each turn, students must ‘read’ the word, ‘spell’ the word, then ‘write’ the word in the selected space on the board. Fourth, the partner takes their turn with the next word on the list. Lastly, the game continues with those two words until someone gets three in a row or it is a tie game. For groups of three, students rotate in and out of the game.
For Kindergarten or groups that need differentiation, students can use letters. Instead of reading the word and spelling it, students will say the letter name, say the letter sound, then write the letter.
Another simple way to differentiate this center is to modify the word lists.
Memory is another student favorite center that is low prep.
- word cards
- writing paper (to differientiate)
All that is required for this game are the word/letter cards. You can make your own real quick, or better, have the students create their own game sets!
First, students turn over all cards. Second, they take turns turning over two cards. Each time they turn over a card they must, say the word, spell the word, then say the word again. To kick it up a notch, have them use the word in a sentence! If they make a ‘match’ they keep the pair. Students continue until all cards are collected.
Another great thing about this game they once they have found all pairs, they can turn them over and play again! I find games that do not ‘end’ are the best for learning centers!
Another way to differentiate the Memory learning center, have students write the words or letters on paper or whiteboards.
TIP: Laminate word cards so that you can use them again next year!
- Popsicle sticks
- Any small container
BAM! Is a simple game that kids just adore! First, write sight words, letters, or spelling words onto popsicle sticks. Second, place sticks in a fun container. I use a separate container for Sight Words and Spelling Words. Next, write BAM! on a few extra sticks and mix them into the container of words.
Students will take turns pulling a stick. Again, they must say, spell, say the word. When using letters, have the student say the letter name, then the letter sound. If a student cannot read the word, the other members will assist them in reading it.
When a student pulls a stick with BAM! on it, they must return all of their sticks back into the container! This adds some fun suspense to the game. It also prevents the game from ‘ending’.
To differentiate the game, you can add a writing component. Have students use the word on the stick in a sentence. For letters, have students give a word that starts with that letter sound! Also, you can also have students write the word or letter that is on the stick they pulled. This written component can be used for an accountability piece by spot-checking and having a few of them read the list of words or letters to you.
- Variety of 3 writing utensils (crayons, colored pencils, pens, markers, pencils, etc)
- Plain paper or writing template
- Word list
The Rainbow Writing Word Work Center is perfect for any word list! Once this center is set up it can be used all year! All that is required is that you change out the words. The best part about this activity is you can edit the top part of the worksheet to add in your own words, letters, etc.
Students simply write the word in whatever color they rolled. Again, I stress that students must read the word, spell it as they write it, then read it again. To kick this one up a notch have students use the word in a sentence. Want to add more of a challenge? Have a set limit of words that must be in the sentence they provide. Have group members count the words in the student’s sentence. This is great for one-to-one correspondence!
Crayon, Colored Pencil, Marker
- Pencils, crayons, markers, colored pencils, pens (any variety of writing utensils)
- Word list
This low prep learning center is another great center that can be used all year! For younger students, I provide a form like the one below.
For older students teach them to fold their paper into three columns. I keep a sample at the center for those who need to be reminded. Students know they must say, spell (write), say, the word first in pencil, then crayon, finally in marker. Of course, you can switch it up throughout the year to colored pencils, pens, etc.
- Magnetic letters (any letters or letter tiles)
- Surface that is magnetic (this is optional)
- Hula Hoop (this is optional see below)
- Word list
- Paper (optional)
Provide students with a word list at this center and a tub of magnetic letters. If you have a strategically placed file cabinet students can build their words onto the cabinet or other magnetic surface. Again, stress that they must, say, spell, say each word!
If you do not have a magnetic surface or you do not have magnetic letters, use letter tiles or letters of any kind and let them build them on their desk, a table, or the floor. If you want to limit space provide them with a hula hoop to build within!
To differentiate this center, have students write each word as they build it. Too, you can have students provide a sentence for the word.
- swatters (or pointers)
- word cards
- hula hoop (optional)
- Paper (optional)
Lay word cards out in a provided space, each student takes a turn calling out one word at random. The caller does not point at the word! The other members of the group race to cover the word with their swatter! (or point to it) Everyone then says the word, spells the word and says the word. The student who covered the word first collects the card!
The winner can give a sentence with the word for differentiation.
The game continues with the next student calling out a word, and the game repeats until all words have been collected. When all words are collected students return the cards to the middle and mix them up and gameplay starts again.
As an alternative when all word cards are taken, have students write their words on a dry erase board or paper.
The hula hoop I have found piques interest and helps with keeping the cards and students in a designated area.
- Pocket Chart
- Words on cards or cutouts in duplicate (Or Picture Cards for Rhyme, Begining, Middle or ending sound)
This game is another way to play Memory from a pocket chart. You can get twice the use out of those Memory Cards.
Students take turns turning around a card. They say, spell, say the word, and try to find the matching card.
For younger students, place pictures that rhyme in the chart. Students must turn over two cards and decide if they rhyme. If they rhyme, they keep them, if not they turn them back around. This can be done with beginning, middle, and ending sounds as well.
Another option is to provide fun pointers at the center and turn all the words over and have students take turns pointing and reading the words.
There are so many options for pocket charts! Another great variation is to have one student call out a word and two others race to ‘point’ at the correct word in the chart with a pointer!
Stampers and Letters With Pladough
- alphabet stampers (letters)
- playdough (or inkpads)
For a great way to change up word work centers in K-2 make use of game boards! Most kiddos are familiar with the concept of basic board games so they are perfect to incorporate into reading centers. Roll the die, move your piece, and in my room, say the word, spell the word, use the word in a sentence! There are a ton of editable ones online.
This Snakes and Ladders game just needs to be printed, then write the words you wish for students to practice on the blank spaces. Place it in a sheet protector, add a die, and fun game pieces and you are all set for your center.
Bingo and Connect Four are also fantastic for word work activities. There are tons of templates on TPT. To prep them just type in your words, print, put in page protectors (or laminate), toss in a tub with game pieces and dice and you’re all set!
- Game board
- Depending on the game they will need game pieces to move around the board or cover up spaces
You can also make use of any plain board game you may have on hand. Make use of your word cards here! The student draws a card reads the card. If they are correct they roll the die and move that many spaces, but only if they read it correctly!
Letter Recognition and More!
Kids love Lollipops! The Letter Lollipops Game is a big hit with the Kinders! With the built-in spinner, all that is required is coloring utensils and this center is all set!
- Game Board
- Coloring Utensils
- Paper Clip
- Colored objects (optional)
Change up this activity for continued engagement by adding fun colored objects to cover the lollipops throughout the game! I discovered these colorful gems at the Dollar Tree for only a dollar! If you place the game boards in plastic page protectors you can reuse the game boards!
You can find more low-prep activities for the alphabet, beginning sounds, and phoneme segmentation activities here.