6 Must Have Tools To Keep In Your Writing Center

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It’s that time of year again when school supplies are getting unpacked and teachers everywhere can be seen arranging and rearranging their classrooms. One of the most important areas of your classroom to get set up from the start is your writing center. For an effective writing workshop, your writing center is truly the heart of it all. The writing center not only supports your students throughout their independent writing time but it also aides in the editing and revising process. That’s why it is so important to have your writing tools fully stocked in your writing center so your writers can get started right away. Here are 6 must have tools to keep in your writing center to best support your writers.

6 must have tools for your writing center

  1. Paper choices

    Paper choices are absolutely, hands down the most essential tools to have in your writing center. Because of the wide range of abilities in every classroom, students should have different paper choices that best fit their writing needs. This can include:

    • blank sheets of paper

    • blank sheets of paper booklets

    • lined paper

    • lined paper booklets

    Keep in mind that how many lines to offer on a page should depend on your grade level. If you are stocking your writing center for beginning of first grade it would be helpful to have landscape paper with a single line as well as double lines. That way your writers have plenty of choice when choosing the best paper for them. To keep these paper choices organized, it’s important to have paper trays or paper bins for students to easily access their paper choices at the writing center.

2. student Writing folders

Student writing folders that are kept in a writing center help keep things organized and easy to access. I prefer to keep my student writing folders grouped by table and in their own separate table bins in the writing center. With each new unit I assign a writing captain that collects all of the writing folders and materials for their tables before writing workshop begins and passes them out. This method has always been most effective for me and a timesaver! No more crowding the writing center right as workshop time begins, all of the materials are already laid out for your students. Within your writing center make sure to have these folders:

  • student writing folders (I prefer three pocket folders)

  • table bins or trays to hold each table’s writing folders

  • name labels for each writing folder

  • Green, yellow, and red dot stickers for inside your writing folders to show work students are still working on, finished with, and their tools.

3. pens, pens, and more pens

It is so important to keep your writing center stocked with writing tools that will move students’ writing along. Pens are essential to the writing workshop because it allows students to write smoothly and see their edits and revisions. My students always wrote their “sloppy copies” in pen to help see edits and revisions. In order to best help my students with their writing, here are the pens I keep stocked in my writing center and their uses:

  • black pens for every day writing

  • purple pens for punctuation

  • green pens for spelling

  • orange pens for adding words or sentences

4. bins/baskets

In order for your writing center to be effective it has to be easily accessible for your students. To make that happen, organization is key. Bins and baskets keep supplies together and easy for little hands to collect things when they need it. You only need a few bins or baskets to keep things together and can easily be found amongst things you already have. The bins and baskets I use are for:

  • pen containers

  • bins for each table group of folders

  • supply caddies for different writing tools that you have

  • scissor caddy if you already have one or a tray to keep them separate

5. Writing supplies

Additional writing supplies that can be found in your writing center are really up to the individual teacher based on your student needs. These writing supplies, whichever you choose, should be present at all times in the writing center because each student can be at a different point of the writing process and may need different tools. The few things that I have found to be common staples in every writing unit are:

  • crayons for publishing

  • markers for cover design and publishing

  • tape

  • scissors

  • Post-its (large and small sizes)

6. writing folder tools/ mini anchor charts

Reference tools in student writing folders or displayed at the writing center are so helpful for fostering student writing independence. These tools should reflect the needs of your students and should also be introduced ahead of time whether during a mini-lesson or in a small group or writing conference. I love to keep copies of writing charts or anchor charts that my class has made in the tools section of their writing folder. That way they have the option to reference the larger anchor chart that we made together as a class or use their personal copy inside of their writing folders or displayed at the writing center.

Some examples of writing folder tools or mini anchor charts that I like to keep are:

  • My Heart Map

  • ABC chart

  • Blends and Digraphs Chart

  • How to Write a Story Chart

  • The Writing Process Chart

  • Units of Study Checklists

  • Individual Word Wall Booklets

an Example writing center:

First grade classroom writing center with all of the materials are organized and easily accessible for students.

First grade classroom writing center with all of the materials are organized and easily accessible for students.

I hope you found these tips helpful to setting up an effective and efficient writing center for your students! Make sure you remember that these are the tools to help keep your workshop running smoothly but YOU are what your workshop needs most!

Happy Back to School and Happy Writing!


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FREE Writing Center Labels for Your Writing Center

FREE Writing Center Labels for Your Writing Center

about the author:


Hi there! My name is Jayme and I am the creator of Teach Talk Inspire. I have a passion for teaching little learners to read and write and am determined to show every student that they’re already writers!

I taught first grade for 7 years and acted as a lead teacher for Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project. I loved to collaborate with other teachers to develop the most effective practices to teach writing to elementary aged students. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Penn State University and a Master’s in Elementary Education from Duquesne University. My love of writing has been there from the very beginning!

When I’m not blogging or creating resources to help teachers in their classrooms, I’m playing and reading with my one year old daughter; my number one student at the moment!