Kindergarten students enter the school year with varying levels of ability, especially when it comes to writing. As a kindergarten teacher, I’ve seen a range of writing, from scribbling to writing sentences. The key is to begin with where they are. We all know that kindergartners are full of thoughts and ideas. They just don’t know how to express what they’re thinking in writing.
After students are comfortable with the writing process, I begin to introduce them to the mechanics of writing simple sentences. When teaching students about writing, I explain to them that writing is like telling a story on paper. I begin by showing them what their thoughts look like. For example, I have them share an idea while I write it on the chart. In the beginning I emphasize the content of the writing rather than grammatical correctness.
At the beginning of the school year, I introduce my students to writing simple sentences. I like to begin the sentence and have my students finish it. Some starters I use are "I am," "I like," "I can," and "I want." After several weeks of using sentence starters, many of my students are confident and ready to begin writing their own sentences.
Once my students have mastered writing simple sentences, I encourage them to add a little sparkle to their work. For example, if a student writes “I like dogs,” have them explain what types of dogs they like. Continue by guiding them through the creation of a new sentence. For example: “I like brown dogs with curly hair.”
I also like to use this expanding sentence activity when teaching my students to add descriptive words. I model this activity with my students several times to help them understand and master the concept.
Later in the school year students are ready to move toward creative writing. They are ready to write sentences based on their own ideas from stories or actual experiences. I model doing this by giving them a writing prompt and then demonstrating the procedure for writing about the topic. Make sure you pick a topic that interests your students. Most of the time, they do their best writing when they’re writing abut what interests them. When I use writing prompts, I always give my students several to choose from. View a list of some of my kids' favorite writing prompts. Scholastic offers some great ready-to-use writing prompt printables as well.
Writing is a skill that requires daily practice. Each day my students begin their morning by writing in their journals. Students are free to write about a topic of their choice. Journal writing is a great way for your students to practice articulating their thoughts. Journals encourage students to retell or create their own stories as well as to practice fine motor skills and letter formation. Journals can also help teachers measure progress and find out more about their students' interests.
For some great ideas to incorporate in your classroom writing center, I invite you to visit my Scholastic post "A Kindergarten Writing Center in Action." Some of my favorite resources for teaching writing include the Scholastic publications First Lessons for Beginning Writers by Lola M. Schaefer; Step-by-Step Writing Lessons for K–1 by Waneta Davidson, Deneen Wuest, and Deanne Camp; Teaching Real-Life Writing to Young Learners by Paula Jensvold; and Teaching Writing in Kindergarten by Randee Bergen. The site Mrs. Meacham's Classroom Snapshots by 1st grade teacher Jessica Meacham has also been a great resource.
What writing strategies do you use in your classroom? Please comment below.