I've written about our writing center before. The writing center is always available. Paper (of various sorts), markers, and pencils are always there.
I often include words that relate to concepts in the room for the month. Sometimes I add sentences or verses for children to read and/or copy.
Other things to write with are sometimes there (colored pencils, crayons, gel pens). Sometimes there are stencils or books or cards. But usually just the "regular" stuff.
Kids go to the center regularly, working on what they want to do. I usually stop by to watch and ask about what they are doing. Recently I stopped by and saw this happening.
"You are drawing the same thing," I commented.
The boys told me they were. I watched for a minute to two and moved to another part of the room. I kept moving back toward the writing center so I could hear what was happening.
The boys talked about what to draw next or what colors to use. They worked together to create pictures that were the same. But, as I looked closely, there are individual differences.
I've seen kids draw pictures on the same subject. But rarely do I see them draw the exact same thing. The activity turned out to be a great learning experience. There were some great negotiation skills and dialogue going on. Observations skills were sharpened as the boys watched what each other was doing. Fine motor skills were developed as they drew the pictures (and maybe did things in a different way since they were following the other's lead).
That's why I like a center like this. The kids have total control over what they do and how they do it. I would not thought to suggest this idea. The idea was all theirs. Kids get to explore their own ideas in all our centers...but this center really is the most open-ended for what to do and how to do it.
Sometimes I worry that the center will get boring since it's just paper and markers. But kids can do great things with paper and markers...and their own ideas!