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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Writing and the Little Ones

I have tried and tried to corret my pragraph spacing, but it will not work. Sorry for the long confusing way it posted. This happens to me all the time and I have no idea why. This weeks Picnic Talk is all about writing.


This is my absolute FAVORITE subject to teach in kindergarten. I love watching the kids come in with such a wide range of skills (many not even holding a pencil correctly) and by the end of the year most are writing full blown stories.

Here are some links to information on my school blog about writing as well as my favorite site to get actual writing lessons.

my writing beliefs


developmental stages of writing


six traits of writing

Mrs. Meacham's Classroom Snapshots: You will love everything about this wonderful teacher's website. I have linked directly to her writing lessons. What I love about the lessons is that each lesson always begins with a read aloud. This is the perfect way to show kids that writing is meant for reading and that someone will eventually read what you have written.

I was actually just writing my first weeks lesson plans for my kinder class and thought this would be the perfect post for the Picnic Talk. Many of these lessons are adapted from Mrs. Meacham's site and the rest I have either create or picked up along my teaching career.

The first formal writing lesson is about all the ways people begin to write. I create a chart with examples to show the children.

Ways to Write: pictures, scribbles, words, sentences

We go over the examples of each of these ways of writing and I have the children talk about what kind of writing they can do. I make sure to explain that sometimes we do more than one of the ways of writing. It really depends on why we are writing in the first place.

After our discussion, I read Bunny Cakes by Rosemary Wells. Max and Ruby are making a cake for Grandma. Ruby keeps writing a list of words for the ingredients she needs and Max writes a scribbled line for the marshmallow squirters he wants. Every time Max takes the list to the store, the grocer gets what Ruby wants but never gets the marshmallow squirters. Finally, Max draws a picture of the candy and what do you know... he actually gets the marshmallow squirters. This is such a wonderful book to really begin a discussion on why some of the writing was more effective than the others and when we would use each kind of writing.

The first actual writing activity is open ended. I simple ask the children to write using as many of the different ways to write as they can.

Soon there after, I formally teach the children how to hold a pencil correctly. We learn the phrase... 3 Fingers to Write. I show each child individually how to bend the last two fingers in towards the palm of the hand and touch the other 3 fingers together as if pinching something. Then, I have the children place a pencil with the point facing towards their tummy. I ask each child to pinch the pencil right above the point with the 3 writing fingers. Once the pencil is pinched I show them how to flip it up and back (some will need to use the pointer finger of the other hand to do this) until the pencil rest on it's bed... the fleshy part between the thumb and the pointer finger. When I notice a kiddo not holding the pencil correctly, I say... 3 Fingers to Write & Put Your Pencil to Bed. Most will instantly correct the pencil grip and those that are unsure, I assist.

This writing activity is fun... Tri-fold Names. Fold a piece of white typing paper into 3rds like you do when placing it into an envelop... it will make a triangular tent if not pressed down. I write the child's name on the inside section that is flat against the table. The child will lay one of the other flaps on top of his/her name and trace the name with a pencil, crayon, or marker. The more fine motor practice needed the fatter the writing tool should be. The child should repeat for the remaining flap.

On the 3rd day, we review all the ways to write and practice holding our pencil correctly. Then, we read The Dot by Peter Reynolds. This book is about a little girl sitting in art class and having difficulty drawing a picture. The teacher finally asks the girl to draw a mark on the paper and sign it. The next day, the drawing of the mark is framed and hanging behind the teacher's desk. The girl looks at the mark she has draw and knows she can do even better. Throughout the rest of the story, the girl makes dots in a variety of ways. She finally holds an exhibit to showcase all her work. A little boy is admiring all of her dots. She asks him if he can draw and he makes a comment about not being able to even draw a straight line. She ask him to show her and then says... sign it.

After reading this book, we talk about the difference in the way we write compared to grown ups or people in other countries. I pose the question... do you think grown ups always wrote the way they write today? We come to the conclusion that the more we write the better we will get at writing.

Again, the children are just asked to write about anything they would like to. They will dictate their writing to me and I will write the sentence on their work.

After all of these lesson, I begin to teach the children how to...

• label pictures with beginning sounds

• stretch out words to record more than one sound

• count words in a sentence

• write at least one letter for each word in the sentence

• use a word wall to copy text, etc.

Check out my school blog, Buggie Bungalow for sites to help with pencil grip and handwriting. They will be listed under my language arts links.

If you have questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

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