This is Part 5 of the Family Literacy Circle’s Five ~ Part Kindergarten Series
Developing & engaging the Writing Skills of your 5-year-old is this post’s focus. This complex set, yes set, of skills has several components, beginning with the growth & development of your child’s fine motor skills. This can take some time, routine, exercise & patience. As a preparation-overview for helping your child with his/her writing skills, check out the sections: “Writing Activities & The Brain” as well as “Pre-Writing Readiness” in my post, Building Your Family Literacy Circle’s Reading & Writing with Your “I AM FOUR!” Just click on the link below:
THE FINALE~ACT FIVE : Encouraging Your Kindergartner’s Writing Skills
You may give them your love, but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. ~ Kahlil Gibran
Written expression offers an exciting opportunity for your child to see how the worlds of creativity are imagined & invented.
If drawing has been, and continues to be, part of her/his communication, letter formation & words will be easier to approach.
There are many different sensory activities that can encourage this key part of his/her Literacy growth & development.
By the end of Kindergarten, your child’s writing skills should include:
- writing upper & lower case letters
- writing her/his first & last names in a legible, readable way
- using letters & sounds to spell common, frequently-used words in a legible, readable way
- using letters & sounds to attempt spelling less common words in a legible, readable way
- writing several sentences without a lot of help from an adult
- writing responses to topics studied in school, or elsewhere
- writing about a book s/he has read
- writing about some of his/her life experiences
Did I just hear a large chorus of OMGs?!?
The expectations in Kindergarten are now what YOU were expected to know at the end of First grade…. Read on for the Common Core’s current list of objectives & expectations for Kindergarten…..
The USA’s Common Core Writing Expectations
From 2011 to 2012 many states & territories of the USA reviewed, adopted & began using the K-12 Common Core Standards for Language & Math in their schools. By 2018, 41 of the 50 states were using these Standard Expectations. Some states revised & re-worded the Common Core; some states continued to use their own set of Standards. For more specific information, click on the Common Core link below, or visit your state’s website:
And the Common Core Language (Some of Them) & Writing Standards Are……
If your child will be, or is attending school in one of the “Common Core” states/territories, here is a list of Kindergarten’s Language & Writing Standard Expectations:
Language: Standard English Conventions
- Writes & speaks using accepted English grammar
- Prints many upper & lowercase letters
- Understands & uses questions words
- Produces & expands complete sentences
- Uses capitalization, punctuation & spelling with accuracy
- Capitalizes the first word in a sentence and the pronoun “I”
- Recognizes & names end punctuation with accuracy
- Writes a letter or letters for most consonants & short-vowel sounds
- Spells simple words they way they sound
Language: Vocabulary Growth & Use
- Sorts common objects into categories
- Shows an understanding of common verb & adjective opposites
- Identifies real-life connections between words & their uses
Writing: Types & Purposes
- Uses drawing, dictating & writing to compose an opinion about a topic or book read; an informative or explanation about a topic; a narrative about one or several events in sequential order
- Responds to suggestions for editing writing
- Uses digital tools to produce & publish writing
- Participates in shared research to produce writing projects
UH HUH!!!! Of course, these are progressive developments taking place throughout the year and continuing on into First Grade.
So, let’s get them grasping that fat red pencil in a way that promotes writing!!!
Strengthening Those Fine Motor Skills
How are your 5 year-old’s finger grasping skills? Does s/he:
- Hold a pencil or crayon in a non-fisted grip?
- Control scissors when intentionally completing a task?
- Trace lines & basic shapes with accuracy?
- Copy figures like a circle, square, triangle?
Parents.com has a great article listing the skills your child learned last year as a 4-year-old, either with you or in Pre-School. Check it out by clicking on the link below:
There are lots of FUN activities to share with your child as Fine Motor developmental tools and/or to use as warm-up exercises for pre-writing.
It is important to remember that drawing and writing, though similar, are not the same. Painting, scribbling & drawing are important steps in the growth & development of writing. Scribbles, in particular, are the early attempts of writing words & thoughts.
A child’s eye sees letters as a combination of curved & straight lines as well as shapes. Drawing letters can be a start, but the end result should be automatic when writing letters. Drawing to form an image uses a different part of the brain than writing letters to form words.
BLB’s Resource Library includes a page on locating sites with activities & exercises for developing Fine Motor Skills in children, ages 4~6. There are, also, some sites offering free, downloadable, practice skill sheets for tracing, cutting & letter-writing. Here’s the link:
What Are the “Stages of Writing”?
Your child’s beginning, “purposeful” writing may look like scribbling….It is, but it ISN’T to your child. Just ask. You’ll receive several sentences describing what the “writing” is saying. There may even be some random letters and, or symbols included, but they won’t represent accurate sounds to words.
In the next stage of writing ~ Letter Strings~ your child will chose legible, random letters and write them in the correct progression-left to right. S/he will read the writing back to you from top to bottom. However, the letters s/he has chosen do not correspond with the sounds in the words written.
The final stage before your child is actually connecting letters & sounds into words is when s/he copies the words s/he sees, known as Environmental Print. S/he usually doesn’t know what the words are and they don’t form a sentence.
These important stages, when encouraged and praised, will lead to your child’s ability to construct meaningful words into sentences.
Keep reading for some tips to encourage these important early stages of writing.
Call Those Scribbles ” Writing”
If your child enjoys drawing and attempts to “write” about her/his pictures, take that as a positive sign! Those “scribblings” are meaningful. You can encourage your child to make those “words” say something with an interactive conversation. When given a specific answer, write it down on the picture (with permission, of course).
You can, also, have your child help you write lists and notes. Be sure to take and send them once “written”. Write notes to each other.
Make sure to include fill-able writing forms in your child’s Pretend Play scenarios.
Use colorful sticky-notes to label things around the house. Point and use these words in your interactive writings about events, routines & descriptions.
Your child can tell you sentences to write and, then, have him/her make a drawing to go with the sentences. Make a collection book of these writings to read together. SO FUN!!!
If s/he enjoys tracing letters, numbers & shapes ~ YAY!!! If you see random letters (some from her/his name) included in his/her descriptions ~ WooHoo!! Time to set up a Writing Nook.
Setting Up A Writing Nook for Your Budding Writer
First of all, make sure your child’s writing space includes a hard surface like a lap-desk, clipboard and/or table. Organize some of these materials in containers on a shelf or stacked crates:
- pencils- colored & regular
- crayons- glittered & regular
- markers- water-based, fine & regular point
- papers- 8×11″, lined, unlined, colored & white
- papers- large, colored construction, manilla & newsprint
- wallpaper- murals for pic ideas & deco for book covers
- pre-made blank books & list pads
- dry erase board with dry erase markers
- cookie sheet & magnetic letters
- pictured vocab cards & picture dictionary
- blank cards & envelopes
- stamps & stickers
- glue sticks, tape & scissors
Hang an alphabet chart nearby with a few Writing Ideas containers.
- The “Mystery Writer”container can have “hidden” choice strips for surprise prompts, like “The Big Red Truck” or “The Giant Ladybug”.
- You can, also, have a container with a stack of “Sentence Beginners” strips , like “I like to eat…..”, “I can draw…….”, “Outside I can see……..”, “I can play….”
- A List-In 2 Me” Tin can have one -word cards as choices, like colors, toys, foods, clothes, friends, animals, family, celebrations
- A “Travel Agent” container can hold pictures of places from around the world, vacation spots, habitats, the community
- Include some Handwriting Practice sheets, too
Deb @learnwithplayathome collected some ideas from a variety of contributors. Click on the link below :
Join the Writing Nook, too, for modeling, actual writing, interactive writing, and sharing/reading what you are writing on your paper, cards, notepad, journal, etc.
You Are Your Child’s First Writing Teacher
In addition to Writing & Reading a Daily Morning message to your child plus labeling house item together on sticky notes, there are many other writing activities you can do together.
Scholastic Parents & I have several suggestions for ways to “slip writing into everyday play”:
- Make simple signs for block-built structures & Lego creations
- Write lists together for going on errands.
- Take pictures of Environmental Print while out & about, so you & your child can compile a “World~Words” book together
- Use letter stamps on play dough to explore letters & write words
- Create simple menus & signs for Pretend Play restaurants, like Pizza Parlor, Cozy Cafe, Breakfast Bistro, Sandwich Stand, Blue Plate Diner
- Write name tags for different roles during a variety of Pretend Play scenarios
- Use chunky sidewalk chalk on the driveway to create murals, game frames, designs, messages, floor plans, city-scapes, neighborhoods, pretend play scenery
- Compose invitations for playroom tea parties, backyard picnics, fashion shows, plays, concerts, art exhibits, readings (especially authored storybooks)
- Encourage your child to sign his/her paintings, drawings & other creations
As your child’s Kindergarten year progresses, try to include more school-objective expectations as writing activities into the Family Literacy Circle.
And On A More Serious Note…..
Your Kindergartner’s teacher has probably presented a few Writing Structure expectations for her Sentence Writers to follow:
- Sentences begin with a capital letter~ reinforce the differences using the alphabet letters chart.
- Sentences end with an stop mark~make mini emoji-like faces on cards to go with each one.
- Each word in a sentence is followed by a space~use a finger or thin craft stick to help with this skill.
- Write letters as neatly as possible~handwriting letter practice will help with this.
- Read the sentence to see if it makes sense~re-read, if necessary for accuracy.
Here’s an 8×11″ Writing Checklist Mini-Poster to hang up in your child’s Writing Nook. Just click on the link below, download & print:
Once your young writer knows most of the alphabet with their letter sounds, s/he will using that knowledge to spell words during written composition. Try not to correct too much. Instead, help him/her learn how to use a sight & vocabulary word chart/cards, word family lists, and a simple picture dictionary as well as word-sound stretching.
Using these skills will help your child meet the high expectations that are currently part of your Kindergartner’s Writing Goals for the year: writing fiction & nonfiction stories (the narrative), writing a book review ( the opinion), and writing directions (the informative, or how-to)……
I heard that collective GASP!!!! Believe me, many educators were/are part of that concern…..but that is a whole ‘nother convo-post.
Back to the ” informative” part of this section….
So, YES ~ 3 main types of writing (several varieties are part of the “main types”) with several (usually about five) complete, related sentences on a topic, using minimal adult/teacher intervention are the Common Core Writing expectations by the completion of Kindergarten……
YES…5 Different Pieces of Writing….
The Narrative can be a personal, nonfiction story about an event in your child’s life. Think celebrations, holidays, vacations, younger/older siblings & relatives, friendships, growing experiences, etc. The other piece of story-telling your Kindergartner is expected to compose is a simple fictional piece, complete with a setting, characters, events as well as a problem to be solved.
The Informative can be a How-To, or Instructional sequence describing the way to make or do something. Think how to ride a bike, how to brush one’s teeth, how to make a breakfast cereal bowl, how to build a sheet-tent, etc. The other part of this expectation has to do with sharing learned, nonfictional facts about a subject. Think bears, apple trees, community helpers, parts of a flower, holidays, seasons, etc.
An Opinion is usually written about books being read as a class, by the teacher and/or independently by your emergent reader.
Graphic organizers can help with this process. I created a few as a PDF for you to use. Just click on the link below to download & print:
And as rigorous as this sounds, many 5 (soon to be 6)-year-olds are able to accomplish this. The growth from beginning Kindergarten (think Pre-K) to the end of Kindergarten (think Pre-First) is HUGE and amazing!!!
However, some writers are reluctant, especially at this level….well at any level, really…. As a PUBLISHED author~it’s called a Block….
This Is TOO HARD!!!!!
You can make anything by writing. ~ C.S. Lewis
Several factors can contribute to your child’s reluctance to putting the pencil-to-the-paper:
- S/he is not confident with his/her knowledge of what the letters are, how the letters look, and/or how to form the letters on the paper.
- S/he is struggling with grasping a writing tool and, then, using it to form the letters on paper.
- S/he becomes frustrated when trying to choose what to write about.
Continue practicing the alphabet with fun, hands-on activities. You can find some ideas from a number of websites. BLB’s Resource Library has a page to help with that. Just click on the link below:
BLB Shop has a download & print ABC Activities product, too. Here’s the link to these games:
If Fine Motor skills are part of your child’s struggle with writing, click on the several links provided in the “Strengthening Those Fine Motor Skills” section of this post.
Remember to show your child the importance of writing throughout the day as you write notes, lists, calendar appointments, etc. Your interactive writing with your child is, also, very instrumental in the actual writing process of literacy.
HEY!!!! I CAN Write Words & Sentences!
Letting your reluctant writer set the pace for her/his learning is one of the keys to putting that pencil (or any writing tool)-to-the-paper. Instead of specific lessons, blend writing into everyday activities & especially during play, like labeling things, making signs, filling out Pretend Play lists & forms.
One of the easiest ways to start the writing process is to begin with a drawing your child has created. Label parts of the picture with post-its, describe what the picture is telling, give the picture a title, and, then, write some simple sentences together.
Another fun way to get the writing “juices” flowing is to use the rhyming activity the Word Families encourage. Use those words as a basis for a song to be performed on the Family Stage in Concert or as a verse to be shared during a Poetry Reading with other family poets.
Need a few Writing Tool Kits to include in your child’s Home Writing Nook?
BLB Shop can help! Just click on the links below to check them out:
Probably one of the most powerful ways to engage your “budding” author is through the Interactive Journal. This personal – written dialogue between you & your child can be quite a surprising way to learn as well as discover thoughts, feelings & knowledge. It is a very successful Literacy tool for writing (and parenting…..).
Need some other ideas, tips and/or suggestions? The post from Creekside Learning lists as for First through Third, but there are some FUN ideas you can use with your Kindergartner. Click on the link to read:
Well, not a lot of Writer’s Block here (or on any of my other Posts for that matter)….. Hope you found some usable info. Writing in Kindergarten can be a struggle…..
Any Questions? Concerns? Shares?
Just fill in the Contact Me form below. You will NOT be subscribing.
Otherwise, fill in the BLB Exclusive form as a FREE subscriber!