7 Secrets for Teaching Writing in Kindergarten
When I started in kindergarten back in 2006, teaching writing was by far the most challenging part for me. There wasn’t a manual or many resources available. I didn’t have a specific curriculum that mapped everything out. This led me to do extensive research on best practices for teaching writing to our youngest learners. When I couldn’t find the resources I wanted, I created what I needed. My students began to thrive, and they grew to love the writing process. In this blog post, I will share my seven secrets for teaching writing in kindergarten.
1. Begin Kindergarten Portfolios during the first week
What was once my biggest challenge, writing is now my absolute favorite part of the kindergarten curriculum. I feel that writing is the area where you will witness the most significant growth during the kindergarten year. Documenting this transformation is so important, which is why I started creating Kindergarten Writing Portfolios.
Here is how they work:
- Print and staple the books at the beginning of the year. You can choose from cover templates for boys and girls, and I have lots of options for how many times you want to administer your prompts (monthly, quarterly, etc.)
- Administer the first prompt during the very first week of school. I tell my students that it is okay if they don’t know how to write any words yet. The first step in the writing process is to have your pictures tell the story. Most students just draw a picture for the first prompt, while some attempt to write a word or two. I explain that we will use these books throughout the year and that they will be writing sentences by the time they get to the final page.
- Pencil in your portfolio assessment dates in your planner. I choose to give monthly prompts, so I schedule the prompts for the first school day of each month.
- Keep in mind that your students should be doing these prompts entirely on their own. Remember, the goal is that you want to see growth at the end! It is okay if they can’t write words or draw pictures without details at the beginning of the year. They will get better each time they complete a page in these portfolios.
Take a look at how these came out…
2. Create a Dedicated Writing Center
Two years ago, I created a dedicated Writing Center. I wish I had done it sooner because it has ignited a spark in even my most reluctant writers. At this center, I have baskets that provide my students with different options for writing. I get a lot of questions as to “What’s in the baskets?” I use NO PREP pages from my FUN WITH WRITING BUNDLE throughout the entire kindergarten year. This bundle includes handwriting pages, phonics and letters practice pages, landscape journal paper for teacher or student choice writing, and portrait journal paper. I switch out the pages from this bundle depending on what letters and sounds we are working on. The blank paper allows my above-level students to write about topics of their choice.
I use this area as both a literacy center and as an “I’m Through, What Can I Do?” area. If students finish an activity at their seats before others, they may go work at the Writing Center.
3. Provide a Portable Word Wall
In addition to the paper options at the Writing Center, I created two versions of PORTABLE WORD WALLS. One is the traditional A to Z Word Wall. The other is a Word Family Word Wall. Both are essential in my classroom. The A to Z style is perfect for those students who are already reading, while the Word Families style is just right for my emerging readers. I love the portable word wall because it is engaging, interactive, and it actually gets used.
4. Write Every Single Day Using Kindergarten Journals
My JOURNAL BUNDLE for the ENTIRE YEAR is one of my best-sellers and has been featured in the Teachers Pay Teachers Blog. Each monthly journal comes with cover options and two versions of writing prompts. My customers love the Writing Checklist the most as it helps to keep our young writers accountable.
How I Use Journals in Kindergarten
Like the portfolios, journals are another great way to track progress and show growth. I use these journals to make sure we write EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. In kindergarten, the day flies by and sometimes you just don’t get through everything you have planned. Thanks to having these journals prepped and ready to go each month, I make sure to take time each day to fit in writing.
At the beginning of the year and throughout the first quarter, we use the journals for “shared writing.” Basically, we complete the pages together. I do a lot of modeling and explicit instruction showing the children the mechanics of the writing process. I also teach my kids how to add details to their illustrations using at least five colors and adding body parts to people. By the second quarter, my above-level learners may be able to do the pages independently while I still provide support to the rest of the group. Most students are able to complete the daily page on their own around January. By the end of the year, students are able to write well beyond one sentence.
5. Provide the “Perfect Paper” for your Emerging Writers
I had several customers who purchased my journal bundle request a similar format with blank options, so I created the PERFECT PRINTABLE PAPER. This 160 page paper bundle includes a variety of formats and designs allowing you to offer differentiated formats to meet the needs of your beginner writers throughout the school year. Use the wider lines at the beginning of the year and the medium or smaller lines at mid-year or end of the year. Use as individual sheets at a Writing Center or create journals! The possibilities are endless!
6. Teach Your Students About Different Types of Writing
As the Common Core writing standards changed over the years, I wanted to create more writing resources dedicated to addressing each and every kindergarten writing standard. Using a similar format to my journal paper, I created mini-writing units to address the following:
- Descriptive Writing
- Research Report Writing
- Procedural / How-to Writing
- Comparing and Contrasting Writing
- Narrative Writing
- Opinion Writing
With these units, you get lesson plans, graphic organizers, and pages to combine into a booklet. I use these resources beginning in the second semester of kindergarten once students are able to write a sentence independently.
7. Use Writing Assessments Often to Measure Progress
Assessment should always drive instruction. While you may use any of the above writing tools I mentioned to assess your students, I also use assessments from my Writing Assessment Pack. These are great to have on hand especially around report card time!
There you have it – my seven secrets for effectively teaching writing in kindergarten! All of these resources are sold separately in my TPT Store, or you can SAVE purchasing them as a KINDERGARTEN WRITING TOOLKIT MEGA BUNDLE! This bundle has everything you need to teach writing effectively throughout the entire school year in kindergarten!