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10 Quick & Easy Writing Activities for Successful Centers

10 ideas for writing activities you can add to your writing center, Daily 5 time, or literacy stations + 2 free print and go resources. Perfect for 2nd and 3rd grade kids. Number 3 is my fave! #education #centers #writingcenter #secondgrade #thirdgrade #daily5 #elementaryeducation #elementaryclassroom

If you’re thinking about simple ideas for centers, here are 10 writing activities you can use for centers, Daily 5, or literacy stations that require very minimal prep. Although we might not want to accept it, it’s now prime time to start training students to get them ready for independent work.

If you’re still in “squashing spitting at the urinals” mode, no worries. Training those little pups takes a whole lotta time! However, you can still take baby steps by deciding on a few activities you want to teach whole class that you will turn into centers or independent work when bathroom break training takes up less than 80% of your day.

Remember: Students don’t even have to know these writing activities might be centers later on, but the more they practice now, the easier your life will be later.


Here are 10 writing center activities you can use that require very minimal prep. Pick and choose, mix and match, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Writing Center #1

Personal Journaling – Let students write about what they did yesterday, their plans for the weekend, how they feel about school, things that are going on at home, or make to do lists. You decide whether students should include these entries in their writer’s notebooks or if you want them to have separate personal journals. I vote putting them in writer’s notebooks for one stop shopping. Although I have pretty strict rules for what goes in the writer’s notebook (you can read more about writer’s notebooks HERE), personal journaling is a rule breaking type of writing. No line skipping needed.

Writing Center #2

Compliments – This is a great activity for the beginning of the year (and beyond) as the purpose of compliments is for students to build relationships with classmates by looking for positive classroom behaviors. You can keep a compliment bag or jar in the classroom and share these out at class meetings or let students take home compliments from their classmates at the end of the week. Compliments have a clear audience (a classmate) and purpose (to say something kind) for writing. When students know a classmate will be reading them, there is much greater attention to detail and conventions! I recommend keeping track of how many compliments students receive (parent volunteer job!) so no one is feeling left out and blue. {Printables for this activity are included in the exclusive email freebie you can sign up for the the end of this post!}

Writing Center #3

River Revisions & Stories – If you haven’t already had your students make rivers, you can learn more about the stones in the river writing activity HERE. Rivers are tools you can have students revisit over and over again! They can either add more stones to their river, choose 1 stone and create a mind map of possible stories they have to write about that person, place, thing, or event, or start planning for and writing a story about the subject of one of their stones. Possibilities abound with rivers!

Writing Center #4

Modeling a Mentor Text – Choose one book a month that you want to serve as an example of great writing. My personal fave for the beginning of the year is Lois Lowry’s memoir, Looking Back {affiliate link}. The chapter about how she chose her dog is always a highlight that 99% of students relate to (it’s about animals!). As a center, your students’ job is to brainstorm ideas for writing that were inspired by this text, or to start planning and writing a piece like the mentor text. You can read more about some of my favorite mentor texts and a mentor text activity for brainstorming HERE.

Writing Center #5

Letter Writing – Create a classroom mailbox and let students write letters to classmates. Another writing activity with clear audience and purpose! Looking over student letters to make sure they have all 5 parts of a friendly letter and then delivering letters to student mailboxes is a great parent volunteer job! Simple, self explanatory, and never ending – the trifecta for perfect parent volunteer tasks! {Printables for this activity are included in the exclusive email freebie!}

Writing Center #6

Would You Rathers – Would you rather be a teacher or a principal? Would you rather live in California or New York? Would you rather sit in a 3-hour long meeting doing teambuilding exercises or gouge out your own eyes? {Confession: that last one might have just been for me.} Would you rathers are super easy to come up with and the kids love them!

Writing Center #7

Question of the Day – What is your favorite . . . ? What is your family like . . . ? If you could create one law what would it be and why? The sky is the limit with questions of the day.  As long as it ends with a question mark you can use it.

Writing Center #8

Elaboration “Super” Sentences – Start with a simple sentence like “Mrs. Smith watched.” Then have students add adjectives, adverbs, appositives, and descriptive words to create a more engaging and detailed sentence that answers the question(s): who, what, when, where, why

Mrs. Smith, my amazing teacher, watched her students as they worked quietly.
Mrs. Smith watched the clock with joy as the seconds ticked down to the end of the school day.
Mrs. Smith watched in disbelief as she realized it was time (in May!) to train her students to walk down the hallway yet again.

Writing Center #9

Story Starters – Choose a book you love and copy the first sentence or two on the board or on sentence strips. Have students write these in their writer’s notebooks and then continue the story. Easy!

Writing Center #10

Art Inspiration – Find pictures in magazines, and have students describe what is happening in the picture or use a character from the picture as a main character in a narrative.


Whatever activities you add to your writing center, I highly recommend typing up student friendly STEP-BY-STEP directions for every center activity you have in your classroom. These don’t need to take extra time. Just create these with your students as you teach the activity to the whole class. If you have detailed instruction pages (like the one shown above) for students to reference, it will save you tons of time once you start students on the long winding road to independence.


Are you in need of some free writing centers?

You can get the exclusive VIP writing center freebie which includes compliment and letter writing activities (with student friendly instruction pages) sent right to your inbox. Just sign up below and check your email.




Need more NO PREP writing centers?  Check out the Writing Center Pack at my TpT store.  It includes print and go writing centers (including many from the list in this post) along with student-friendly direction pages and supplementary printables for every activity.  Just PRINT & GO!

Have a fab day Super Teacher,

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