Dictation Stations

Sometimes when I’m thinking about the awesome things my students are doing, I forget about the little guys, which is a total bummer because they’re pretty great kids.

The best part about teaching beginning readers is that you see the skill of reading happen right before your eyes. Only months ago, these students were reviewing and solidifying their knowledge of letter names and letter sounds, practicing to the point of mastery. Next, they began putting sounds together they could decode into words read aloud and written down. It’s like watching a slow moving magic trick. Their brains are growing every day.

When they come to my room we do a lot of practice with phonics and that can get pretty boring for them (and me, TBH). A friend of mine was setting up “dictation stations” for her small group and she said it was working really well, so I did what any good teacher would do and STOLE THE IDEA!

I have up to six kids in my group (in the pictures below there are only four students because two were absent), so there are six “stations” for the students to use. Everyone at each station is writing or building the same word, so we’re still focused on the same concept together, however, they are making the word through different mediums, which helps them to make connections between the words they will see in the books they read (no matter what they look like) to the work they are doing in their whole group and small group instruction.


  1. Paper and pencil: It’s a classic. ALSO, it tracks all the words we’ve done as a group because nothing gets erased on this paper. That’s helpful for me so that I can make sure I don’t repeat a word or I can make sure I have a good mix of sounds to practice.

  2. Dry Erase Board. I have plain white boards and lined boards and depending on the day, I’ll use one or the other.

  3. Gel Board (not pictured). Remember those toys that used a magnet pen to move little metal strands onto a cartoon man’s face to make facial hair? It’s a similar concept. The kids think it’s SUPER COOL.

  4. Magnetic Board. This is something that comes with the Fundations kit, but I find it’s difficult to incorporate regularly into my lessons because it can be cumbersome and distracting for students and when I have a VERY SHORT amount of time, I tend to skip that kind of stuff. It works great in this setting so now they’re getting the practice they need without me getting frustrated.

  5. iPad. I have an app that is the Montessori Moveable Alphabet. I love it. It’s the perfect simple design that just has kids dragging letters onto the board to make a word. Simple dimple beautiful.

  6. Smart Board (not pictured and not in my room – sad face). My pal is lucky enough to have a smart board so she has the equivalent of the tiles from the magnetic board on her smart board and students can move them around on the larger scale. I do not have a smart board because no one loves me (SUPER sad face), so I end up using a second dry erase board (usually the other variation) with maybe a larger marker, different color, or something else that makes it just a bit different.

It’s nothing amazing, but I think that’s what makes it so effective. The kids like getting up and moving around and trying different things to make words and little do they know they’re LEARNING!

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