The first center I ever introduced to my students oh so many years ago was Sticker Story. This is not my original idea and I can't remember for the life of me where I first heard of it, but I do know that my students LOVE to do Sticker Story. I love it too because it is so simple in terms of preparation.
I collect stickers throughout the year and I also make stickers (I print off clipart on sticky labels). At the beginning of the year, I ask all students to bring in stickers on the supply list. (Keep in mind, I teach at a private school, so this may be easier for me.) I keep the stickers organized in my closet in a clear bin (animals, people, sports, seasonal, etc). Then I put out another bin of stickers for the kids to access while they do this center. In October I'll put out the Halloween/fall stickers then change them up the next month. I always have some generic stickers too. I also give them a sticker limit so they don't go crazy with the stickers! After putting stickers on their picture, they draw around the stickers to add to the scene.
Students choose their stickers and create a scene. Then they write about it. In first grade, at the beginning of the year, most kids just write sentences about their picture. It can be as basic as "I see a cat." or "The cat has a ball." At this point, I would encourage them to describe their sticker scene as much as they can. Of course I also model, model, model! I often take someone's Sticker Story and generate more ideas from that as a class. As the year progresses, I encourage kids to start making their scenes into stories with a beginning, middle and end. This happens at different times for each child, depending on where they are as a writer. If I feel like they are ready to progress in this way, I often will do a short writing conference with them during writer's workshop. I'll bring a copy of one of their recent Sticker Stories and talk with them about how we could make it into a story with a beginning, middle and end.
Here are some examples of Sticker Stories. I wish I would've taken more pictures over the years! I've been doing this forever but I only have a few pictures.
Here's the first page to a whole story written by one of my students at the end of the year. We were learning about the rainforest so she wanted to make a rainforest story. Here she used a jaguar and parrot sticker and drew the trees and the rain to go with it.
Here's another picture from mid year:
This is a good example of a first grader who is getting ready to create stories. This is somewhere in between a story (with the beginning, middle and end) and simply a description of stickers. This student has names the setting and characters and given the reader information about the characters. This is the perfect time to conference with this student to help develop a story!
Come by my blog to see more Sticker Story examples and to pick up your freebie so you can start sticker story too!