Pokey Pinning Literacy Center


You can create literacy centers that last all year long. This is how I set up, organized and displayed the work created by my students from our pokey pinning literacy center.

The pokey pinning center focuses on using fine motor skills to poke out simple sight word based sentences.

I’ll also mention how it lasts all year and how I turn this into an open-ended center so that students don’t have to come tell me that they’re done – they just keep working until the center is over.

Pokey Pinning Literacy Center - KindergartenWorks

Pokey Pinning Literacy Center

This literacy center focuses on reading a simple sentence with our sight word from the previous week. That way they’ve had enough exposure to read it successfully on their own.

They use small or large push pins (affiliate link) and push the pin through a worksheet-looking paper with a space for their name, a simple sentence and a simple image.

They work on the carpet so that the pins go straight into the carpet and poke a nice hole. As they make their way poking along each letter and the lines of the black and white images – they are creating a pretty cool looking product underneath.

Pokey Pinning Literacy Center - KindergartenWorks

There is a piece of colored construction paper cut to the same size that they’ve stapled underneath the worksheet.

The worksheet becomes a template that simply gets trashed (so I’ve usually copied it onto scrap paper) and the final product that is underneath is proudly displayed.

I love that it takes minimal materials – and not very much shelf space to set this center up. I use a pencil basket to hold their work for the week, a small bucket inserted to keep pins from falling out the holes in the basket and a stapler.

Pokey Pinning Literacy Center - KindergartenWorks
The very first pokey pinning worksheet at the beginning of the year

Creating a half-page pokey pin template means I have less copies to make and only one cut on the paper cutter. I change out the colored construction paper each week too to help keep things fresh. This system works for the entire year!

Pokey Pinning Literacy Center - KindergartenWorks

Students assemble their own work. They staple the front template on top of the construction paper with a single staple at the top.

Pokey Pinning Literacy Center - KindergartenWorks

They write in their name in the rectangle at the top and pin it.

Pokey Pinning Literacy Center - KindergartenWorks

Sometimes in the event of work not getting finished, they store their work right back in the basket. Since it has their name on it and is already stapled – it is easy to find later.

Using stikki clips (affiliate link), they simply hang up their newly completed work. It was always cool to see their fine motor skills improve over the year. {Usually it starts out pretty scary!} Each student has a spot in the window… except for the fact that with 27 students you can easily start to run out of space.

Pokey Pinning Literacy Center - KindergartenWorks

When they take down the previous one, it goes home in their cubby and the new one takes it’s rightful place on display.

How To Make a Pokey Pinning Template

You can easily make your own template in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint or even by hand. Or you can snag the ones I’ve already made!

  1. Create a space for students to write their name at the top.
  2. Write a simple sentence that your students can read with the picture as support. Add a black line image that is pretty simple (not too much detail).
  3. Print 2 per page and you’re set to go!

Pokey Pinning Literacy Center - KindergartenWorks

I’ve made themed pokey pinning templates available in each of my themed math and literacy center units like the pirate and very popular frosted frozen literacy and math materials. Plus, I also made a free name pokey pinning sheet to introduce the center.

If you’re loving this idea and want it all made for you, then I’ve got your back. I’ve got 40 pokey pin templates ready to print plus you can change the text to use your own sight word list.

Open-Ended Option


Why do I mention the open-ended nature of my literacy centers? Because making learning the cool thing to do in the classroom is a catalyst.

It fuels so many other things and makes the time spent in the classroom twice as effective.

If learning is “fun” and “the cool thing to do” there are so many other key things already put in place as a means of reaching that as a classroom foundation. There are solid levels of respect, expectation, acceptance and risk-taking (which involves acceptance of failure and necessity of trials).

Pokey Pinning Literacy Center - KindergartenWorks

And when I say the cool thing to do, I mean they understand that “it’s what we do” in kindergarten and is highly accepted, valued, praised and encouraged by the little five-year-olds amongst each other.

By simply creating centers that don’t end – you remove the “am I done yet?” from their go-to responses and generally from their daily experiences.

They change their focus onto how they can use their time, what they can accomplish and how they can explore learning within that center.

Pokey Pinning Literacy Center - KindergartenWorks

What Kinders Do Next

If students finish their work early, they go display it in the window. They take a blank half sheet of recycled paper from the author center and make up their own pokey pinning template!

They write a sentence with our newest sight word (so that’s a new challenge) and draw a picture with a pencil (and can make more than one if time allows… but it usually doesn’t). They bring that template to share.

We collect them over a few days. We vote on 1-2 (if there are a lot) and I will make 5-6 copies of the template to put into the center for next week.

That way their own work becomes part of the center! As we increase expectations throughout the year, the submitted entries have to line up. If we are expected to use an uppercase at the beginning of a sentence and punctuation at the end, their submitted paper has to follow suit to be considered!

Ready to get rolling? With my printable pokey pin templates – you can start tomorrow.

Pokey Pinning Sunlight Sight Word Catchers for KindergartenGet the Pokey Pinning Center Activities

Think it might work in your classroom? If you like what I do here on KindergartenWorks, then be sure to subscribe today. I look forward to sharing ideas with you weekly.

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  1. Have you ever had parents complain about the kids using pushpins? I love the idea but I’m worried my school/ parents won’t approve.

  2. What do you do with the kids that do not use the materials safely? I usually give the rules and if they don’t follow and try to poke a friend etc… , they have to leave that area but if you want them to stay the whole time??? This sounds like a center to introduce in January maybe for my groups? I would love to hear what others do too.

    1. I once had a kid who really just couldn’t handle a pin, so I made him use a pencil. His never turned out as nicely… but it worked for us. The rest just lost out once and that was enough for them. They had to sit out as their consequence and the unfinished work was sent home with a note explaining why it was incomplete.

  3. Am I able to download the directions sheet for “pokey pinning”? I downloaded all of your literacy center stuff and cannot find anything in your TPT store about it.

      1. Darn!! I am going to have a class this year that will need a lot of visual support and it would be so nice to have them all look the same. I was hoping I was just missing it since I saw it in a photo at the top. Let me know if you ever decide to make it available, I’ll be the first in line to purchase it!! Your stuff is awesome and I am looking forward to restructuring my centers this year!!

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