One of the most exciting and satisfying parts of teaching Kindergarten is watching the children go from basic alphabet recognition to actually reading and writing their own stories. Of course there is always a big range in individual literacy development in every class, but my first priority was always to help children feel good about reading and writing. I found so many helpful lessons and ideas in Lucy Calkins books as well as Kid Writing, but I found they didn’t always fully prepare children for the writing assessments that my district required.
In the Writer’s Workshop methods I was using the children primarily wrote about their own interests, which of course is what most great authors say that they always do! But our district assessments provided a topic and required the children to write in response to that idea. So, in addition to Writer’s Workshop, I began asking my children to write about specific topics – sometimes we wrote in response to a book we read – their favorite part, or a connection they made to the story. Sometimes I asked a question and after brainstorming as a class the children wrote their answers. Just as in writer’s workshop, drawing was an important part of this process. I began using sentence starters, like ‘On a rainy day I like to _________’ but I found that some children re-wrote those beginning words, or only wrote one or two words, and many did not get the idea of finishing that sentence. I changed to asking a question instead.
I found that my class was much more comfortable with the district assessments, and I also collected these writing papers into a folder for each child that really showed their growth as a writer through the year. I think that it is always important to help children develop ideas, so we always talked and brainstormed before this type of writing.
I am sad that I didn’t save examples of my children’s writing to share with you, because I love reading things like that myself, but I do have some of the templates that we used. For years I resisted asking young children to write on lines, but I evolved along with our expectations. Most of the time my children drew in a box or specified area, and wrote on simple lines. I know that some of you prefer to use double, dotted lines, or HWT type of lines. I am sharing templates without lines or drawing boxes so you can add the type your class is used to.
This is the cover I used when I put all these writing papers into a folder at the end of the year.
This is a writing response that we used during our Rainforest Unit.
This was part of my ME unit. It was early in the year so sometimes I did not even add lines or a drawing box.
I used this during 5 senses to talk about things we liked to taste – the clipart is a hard to recognize mouth!
I usually just added a few writing lines at the bottom of this pumpkin and the children drew in the top part.
I used this paper for a copy change of Brown Bear, Brown Bear during Halloween. The children wrote a color word and a Halloween word, and we made a class book – i.e. orange pumpkin, yellow moon, white ghost, etc. I was mainly reinforcing early sight words I, see, the.
This is one that I saved from when I used to use sentence starters instead of asking a question. In more recent years we wrote about what we did on our birthdays – making a connection to a book we read about Mickey’s birthday.
Again, you could change this to “what would you wish for?”
At the holidays I liked to encourage children to think about giving, not just getting! It’s funny but I did a lot of cut and paste to change projects because I created them on my home computer, and changed them at school – so the ones I have saved are the older versions.
During our Health Unit we read Audrey Wood’s book King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub. I asked what they children would take in the tub.
During our Dinosaur unit we read If the Dinosaurs Came Back – by Bernard Most and brainstormed our own ideas. Some children just wrote an idea they remembered from the story and that was okay too!
I read a book about the Tooth Fairy and we brainstormed why she took all those teeth.
This was from the early days – but the raindrop was fun!
This was a chance to review “reduce, reuse, recycle” ideas.
I used this as another class book – I tried to have enough class books for each child to take one home at the end of the year. Actually you could make each of these pages into a class book instead of collecting them through the year for individual children. A class book is a gentle way to show parents how their child compares to the others in your classroom. Sometimes we made books that we took turns taking home overnight, I always included a page in the back for parents to respond to the book or to the question the children were answering.
We used this as a literature response to The Tiny Seed.
We used this to predict what we might see on a field trip, or to remember what we liked on the farm trip.
Here are some examples of the drawing boxes and lines I added to these papers.
When there was a border around the paper, sometimes I just added the lines and the children drew in the blank space.
Here is a smaller version that fit some of the pages better.
Here are copies of the drawing boxes and lines to print:
And here are the masters: