When Kindergartners are beginning to write they need to do an amazing amount of things.
-they need to think of what they want to say
-they need to think of the individual words and be able to stretch out each word to hear the sounds
-they need to remember which letter represents each sound
-they need to remember how to form each letter (and how to hold the pencil!)
- they need to remember to leave spaces between the words
- they need to think about which sight words they know and can use
- they need to be able to read their own writing and remember what they are writing – some children can’t hold constant the specific word order throughout their sentence.
-they need to begin thinking about punctuation
It’s a wonder any 5 year old can do this at all! But amazingly, they do! I think it is our job to be there to provide support and scaffold them along throughout this process and most of all to celebrate their success!
When we first finished our study of letter sounds I gave each child a chart, and laminated a bunch to be left in our classroom to help them remember letter sounds. We also had a large alphabet with these matching pictures up above our chalkboards.
The picture cues were the same ones we learned while making our Letter Sound Book, and because we reread that so many times the children were very familiar with these.
Here is a pdf file if you would like to make a copy of this chart:
But as the children progressed with their writing, I wanted to provide more tools to help them, so I made each child a Writing Tool Kit.
It’s hard to tell, but this is a 9 x 12 piece of construction paper folded in half .
On the inside of the Toolkit folder I glued a copy of upper case and lower case letters, and punctuation that Kindergartners are most likely to use. I always had this information posted in many places around the room, but some children have difficulty looking up at a wall, and then back down at their paper. It also helps them to keep their focus if they don’t have to look all over for the information they need.
On the lower half of the tool kit I reduced the chart they were used to using – I found that consistently providing the same model for each letter sound really helped children who were still gaining confidence.
I also put a small chart for digraphs and chunks that we had learned. Before the children used these toolkits they were already very familiar with all the stuff inside, and this identical information was already posted around the room – it just gave them their own personal copy.
The last part of the inside of the tool kit was a small pocket that I made by cutting a rectangle of cardstock and taping it on 3 sides. I gave each child a SPACE MAN – they used markers to decorate a popsicle stick. The pocket was a place to store the space man. This can be a great tool to remind the children to leave spaces between words. They would write a word, lay the space man down, then write the next word. It is really kind of bothersome to keep doing it – but the kids usually love the idea of the spacemen, and just having it out and using it for a couple of words often helps them remember to leave spaces!
You can buy really cute ones already decorated like astronaut space men from Really Good Stuff – but they are too 3 dimensional to fit into this pocket. Sometimes the kids used these as pointers when they were reading too.
On the back of the tool kit I listed the sight words my children were supposed to know by the end of the year. Actually we only officially had 20 words, I added a few that I noticed they needed in their writing.
Here are copies of the toolkit if you are interested in printing any of them.
I gave each child a Writing Tool Kit that they kept in their writing folder, but since we did a lot of writing at other times during the day, I also made Tool Kits that I left at the writing center, and in a basket where children could borrow one any time. All children took them home at the end of the year, but I sometimes gave one to a parent if they were trying to help their child at home.
It is so exciting when the children first realize that you can read what they write! That is a reason to celebrate!