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Engagement Strategies, Early Childhood

Page history last edited by Christine Koerner 3 years, 10 months ago

Engagement Strategies, PK-2nd


The following strategies could be used in an early childhood classroom to increase engagement in literacy activities. Teachers should use their wisdom in knowing when and how often to employ these various strategies.


The K20 Center also has over 100 strategies for use in the classroom. Find more information about all 100+ at the website.


For Digital Slide Templates, visit Theresa Wills' site or click on the specific strategy templates below.





A to Z

Make a list of the Letters from A to Z on a chart paper, leaving room for a word or phrase after each letter. Guide students in generating words or phrases that start with each letter of the alphabet. The words or phrases should relate to specific concepts or topics that have been taught or reviewed in class. After working together as a class on a few words/phrases, display the anchor chart and encourage students to continue to think of words/phrases to fill the chart. 

Act It Out 

Students associate kinesthetic movements with a variety of content: letter sounds, vocabulary, verbs, etc. Students could act out vowel sounds with hand motions, e.g., /ĭ/ is the scratching motion for itch. Students could also be encouraged to act out vocabulary and content terms. 

Call Backs 

Call backs are a great way to get students’ attention during their conversational or work time. There are many lists available with teacher call backs that can be adjusted and varied for student engagement.  


Have students listen to a word, repeat the word out loud, write it on paper (or make visual representation), and then have them read the word out loud again. 

Find Your Match 

Give each student in the class a card, and then have them find the other student with the matching card. Teachers can do this with many topics including rhyming words, uppercase/lowercase, antonyms/synonyms, words/definitions, problem/solution, and words/pictures. 

Four Corners

Four corners is a strategy that encourages student discourse. Place four signs in various corners of the classroom. Label these with four characters from a recent story, parts of the book (beginning, middle, end, and freebie-character, setting, event), books of a series, informational topics (e.g., habitat, diet, type, interesting fact, etc.). Ask students to choose a corner that is their favorite or that they feel like an “expert” in. Once students have selected their corners, give them a few minutes to share with their corner group their reasons for choosing as a favorite or expert information. Share out as large group. Students can also organize information to share with the class as a group. 

Frayer Model (with guidance)

Use a version of the Frayer Model to create class anchor charts for new and interesting words. The middle of the diagram will be the word and the four corners include a student-friendly definition, a picture or visual representation of the word, an example (synonym), and a non-example (antonym). The example and non-example can also be in picture form as shown in the sample. 


I Notice, I Wonder

Students discuss and provide feedback on interesting art/photographs using “I notice…” and/or “I wonder…” sentence starters. Label pictures with words and phrases for further reference. Write the words/phrases on sentence strips and place them in the writing center for students to use to create sentences, stories, sorts, etc.

Quick Draw

After learning a new concept or topic, students draw a picture about what they’ve just learned in 5 minutes or less. This gives them time to think about the concept and visually articulate their learning. Then allow students to share with a partner before sharing out with the class. 

Response Cards

Use Response Cards for any number of responses, including agree/disagree, true/false, yes/no, greater than/less than, multiple choice, and emotions. For example, while reading a book together as a class, the teacher may pause and ask her students what they think the character is feeling right now. Students should then be able to display the correct response using the corresponding card. 

Think Pair Share

Students get “think time” to formulate a response before sharing. Next, they discuss their ideas with a partner. Students are then encouraged to share with the class their individual or partner responses. 


Teachers and students complete a 3-2-1 anchor chart over concept or topic through a shared writing experience.
  • 3 - things we learned
  • 2 - interesting things
  • - question we still have


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