Getting young students to write can sometimes be a challenge. However, it doesn’t need to be! Writing is a subject that may at first seem daunting to young children yet with the proper tools and instruction, they can flourish in their writing abilities.
In language, kindergarten students are presented with the basic fundamentals of our language. They are learning that letters make sounds, when sounds are combined they create words, and when words are combined they make sentences. At this very early stage, I also teach my students how to get these same ideas down on paper. As students are learning that a says /a/, I also instill in my students how to write that letter. We play lots of games during our literacy block with dry erase boards and markers. As a warm up, I will call out a sound, and my students will write down the letter that makes that sound. Once my students are comfortable with individual letters, we move on to blends and CVC words. This teaches students (the pre-writing skill) that they can listen for sounds and write them down.
Once they show an aptitude towards this skill, I move on to simple sentences. I use the sight words that we already know and have my students write sentences on their dry erase boards. I will dictate the sentence to my students and they write it down. For example, I might say, “Write down this sentence: I like the cat.” As they are writing, I am checking that they are starting their sentences with capital letters, listening to the sounds they hear in the decodable words, spelling our sight words correctly, and ending their sentences with a punctuation mark. After my students write the sentence, I have them read their sentence to a friend. I then might prompt them to create their own sentence starting with, “I like.” My students love doing this and this helps them develop into young authors!
Another way that you can practice these same writing skills is by having your class create class books using sentence frames. We currently are working on the sight word “can” and are learning all about Arctic animals. Therefore, it seemed very fitting for us to create a class book all about Arctic animals. To start the lesson, my students reviewed the names of Arctic animals using a flip book that I created for them.
As we went through the flip book, I had my students recall one fact that they remembered about each animal.
Next, I took out my nomenclature cards. My students worked together to match the pictures of each animal to their label. They referenced their flip book to help them. The conversations and reading that took place during this activity was GREAT!
Once all the pictures had labels, I had my students pick their favorite animal and gave them a sentence strip. I told them that we were going to make a class book about what our favorite Arctic animals “can” do. They were SO excited to get to work writing about the animal that they chose!
After my students wrote down their sentences on their sentence strip, I cut them into word cards. I then gave the words back to my students with our book paper and had them glue their sentence back in order. (This makes students re-read what they wrote and reinforces sentence structure!)
Once their sentence was glued back together, my students illustrated their sentence.
They worked so hard on their pages and were so proud of their work.
After school, I laminated all of their pages, bound them together with my publishing machine, and added their class book to our Arctic book bin for my students to read during Read To Self.
In doing activities like this with my kindergarteners it teaches them that they CAN write and that they have a lot to say. By teaching students sentence frames it not only teaches them sentence structure but it also gives them a “tool” to use when they write independently. Even though my kindergartners are still learning how to read and write, they exhibit great confidence in reading and writing. They are not afraid to try to sound out a hard word and enjoy reading what they write! I couldn’t ask for anything more! 🙂