Building Community through Writing Center Craft and Activity Stations

By Katie Filion

Considering the plethora of in-person support services offered in community spaces, writing centers were hit especially hard by transitions to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, writing centers adapted their practice to include new modalities for staff and students to thrive in these ever-changing learning environments. While these efforts increased the reach and accessibility of many services, the official return to in-person centers over the past 2 years revealed obstacles. Specifically, the transition to in-person socialization among peers and across roles has led to isolation within writing centers. As we work to rebuild from tragedy, prioritizing self-care and community building becomes essential for recreating writing center locations as safe and resourceful spaces of friendship, inclusion, and creativity we all want to work in again.

Upon brainstorming ways to bring our Writing Center community together at MSU in the wake of both the COVID-19 pandemic and the events of 2/13/23, I relied on the strengths that come most naturally to me. With a background in summer camp programming and residence life, I decided to utilize my talents (and giant collection of supplies) to pilot monthly craft and activity stations in our main Writing Center location. Right off the bat, the stations were a success!

A DIY beaded bracelet station for students to create Spartan Strong bracelets.

Beginning with a DIY beaded bracelet station for students to create Spartan Strong bracelets in solidarity with one another, I instantly understood the importance of developing thoughtful stations with clear intentions. During the summer, we created friendship bracelets while enjoying the benefits of an on-site snow cone machine, which helped emulate a summer-camp-like atmosphere. Heading into the fall, we folded 1,000 Japanese wishing stars together and proudly designed our own pronoun buttons, which were manually processed by the BRILLIANT Bessey staff. Then, we created fall-inspired bookmarks and wooden pumpkins before completing a giant autumn coloring page which you can spot above the Bessey printer. In the winter, we crafted valentines, made paper snowflakes, customized glitter calming bottles, shared book recommendations, and enjoyed a hot cocoa bar. Additionally, we designed our own wooden pencils which currently display the individuality of our staff around the Bessey SOA desk. When you stop by Bessey this March, you can find mystery dot-to-dots as well as materials and instructions to make Rexlace keychains!

When designed thoughtfully, I witnessed how the implementation of craft and activity stations in writing center spaces provide an outlet for staff and students to gather, socialize, and collaborate across roles through different mediums, fostering a sense of belonging. When participants share in the joy and difficulties of learning a new skill via stations, they build community, reduce stress, focus their mind, and engage in self-care. Since stations have often served as a draw for students passing by the space to check out the monthly craft, they also help create a dialogue about the work we do, making them more likely to book an appointment with us down the line. At their best, craft and activity stations champion the idea that writing centers should be community spaces in which diverse learning occurs daily and creativity is endless.

Customized glitter calming bottles made by staff members from The Writing Center @MSU

After a year of successful implementation, I pushed myself to create a guide for others based on what I learned from my community-building passion project. After receiving funding from the Writing Center as well as a travel scholarship, I traveled to Pittsburgh, PA, where I presented “Building Community and Breaking Clichés through Craft and Activity Stations” at the National Conference for Peer Tutoring in Writing. Instead of a traditional presentation, I developed a comprehensive how-to pamphlet on craft and activity stations so my audience would have a tangible resource to take home with them. Within the pamphlet, I shared my intent for creating the stations, seven key steps for folks interested in designing their own stations, and helpful tips to make them successful. Then, I included examples of my stations, general takeaways, and guiding questions for folks to determine what kind of stations might work best in their space.

Visit to view the digital pamphlet as well as the flyer templates, materials lists, and display photos from which you can draw inspiration to create your own stations one day! Considering my positive experience meeting like-minded consultants and learning about innovative writing center practices, I highly recommend attending NCPTW to explore a new city, learn from other centers, and present your own work in a supportive environment. As always, thank you to my team at the MSU Writing Center for sponsoring part of my trip, supporting all my community-building ideas, and giving me the opportunity to blend my passion for student affairs and writing centers daily.