Ok, so I guess it's not just the kids because I can be like that too. (Let's be honest . . . we're all like that to some degree.)
I'm not sure what tools and supplies you use in your classroom on a regular basis, but I find that reserving certain supplies for specific activities make my students a little more interested. For example, I use a special set of colored pencils just for editing writing. This helps many of my students take a little more interest in the editing step of writing.
Another tool I use for specific assignments are highlighters!
One year I had a parent donate a whole bag full of colored highlighters, so I decided to use these in centers. It's a quick and easy way to create a literacy center!
Oftentimes I'll make copies of a page in a book or magazine for each student to have their own. With these pages I assign my students a specific phonetic pattern, sight word list, or spelling pattern to look for. (Sort of like a highlighter scavenger hunt.) I write in the directions for the center for students to use the highlighters to find all the assigned words or rules. Here are some examples of directions I've given:
- Highlight all the "the"s in pink, "if"s in blue, and "was" in yellow.
- Highlight all words ending in "ing" in pink and "ed" in yellow.
- Highlight all words whose consonant is doubled after adding the suffixes "ed" or "ing".
- Highlight all words that have a prefix blue and a suffix pink.
An easy way to differentiate this kind of center while having all students concentrate on the same skill is to choose texts that vary in difficulty or amount of print on the page. Then again, sometimes I even choose texts that are even a little bit above their reading level so that they will focus on the task and not necessarily the actual content itself.
Hope this one helps you create a quick and easy (yet purposeful) center for your students!