Monthly Archives: March 2010

Kindergarten Writing Benchmarks

4th quarter is upon us and your child will be expected to reach several academic benchmarks by the end of Kindergarten.  This week I am giving you checklists for each major academic area in order for you to see how your child is progressing towards reaching all of the Kindergarten benchmarks.  Please take some time to review the skills listed and ask yourself this question, “Is MY child able to successfully achieve ALL of these skills consistently and independently without adult help?” If your child is experiencing difficulty mastering these kindergarten skills, it may indicate a struggle next year in first grade.


  • Demonstrates a developing knowledge of phonics by using sounds and letters when writing
  • Writes using strings of letters
  • Writes own first and last name WITHOUT looking at their nametag using only upper case letters for first letters and lower case letters for all other letters.  Sample:   Mary Smith
  • Demonstrates a developing knowledge of spacing between words
  • Begins to read own writing
  • Shares ideas
  • Communicates ideas that are related to the topic being discussed by drawing and writing about the topic

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Filed under Kindergarten, Parents, Writing

Oral Language Skills to Master in Kindergarten

Most school systems will be sending out third quarter report cards very soon or perhaps your school has already sent them home.  When I send home my 3rd quarter report cards in a few weeks I am also going to attach a letter reminding parents of all curriculum benchmarks that their child should master by the end of Kindergarten.  Starting today and for the next week I am going to give you a checklist that you can use at home to evaluate if your child is really ready for first grade.  Please take some time to review the skills listed and ask yourself this question, “Is MY child able to successfully achieve ALL of these skills consistently and independently without adult help?” If your child is experiencing difficulty mastering these kindergarten skills, it may indicate a struggle next year in first grade.

ORAL LANGUAGE: by third quarter should have mastered or be close to mastering the following skills.

  • Uses detailed sentences
  • Retells stories with a few prompts and questions
  • Shares personal stories with some details
  • Correctly responds to questions that begin with How, Why and When
  • Hears and identifies sounds in words
  • Recognizes and creates rhyming words
  • Identifies words that begin with the same sounds
  • Identifies words that begin with different sounds

(Tomorrow’s blog:  Reading Readiness skills that should be mastered by the end of Kindergarten)


Filed under Kindergarten, Language Arts, Parents

Using a Period

Kindergartners are at a time of the year that they are really expanding their writing.  They write in journals, they write notes to each otherJ, they write notes to family members, they write at the writing center and they write on their pictures at the art center.  Every chance they get, they are writing.  Now is the time to introduce the use of the period at the end of the sentence.  Kindergartners are starting to understand what a sentence is and they certainly know the meaning of STOP.  Now we put the two together and teach them to place a period at the end of the sentence to signify that they are at the end of their thought.  What usually happens after a lesson on the use of a period is that these Kindergartners start using periods everywhere and what we will see is one word written, period, next word written, period.  It is quite funny seeing a period after every word instead of after one complete thought.  They are trying to use their new knowledge and it takes some time until the correct use of a period really sinks in, but we do have to start somewhere. It would be wonderful if you also support this new skill by encouraging your child to use a period whenever he/she is writing at home.

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Filed under Kindergarten, Language Arts, Writing

What To Write About

Kindergarten children rarely are able to pick out a topic to write about on their own.  They want to write, but thinking of what to write about is a daunting task.  You might talk to your child before he/she writes in his/her journal at school, chooses to go to the writing center during centers/free choice at school, or even writes for you at home.  Talk about different options for what to write about and help your child come up with a few choices to help him/her with the thinking process.  You will help to narrow down the search for a topic and when he/she is able to choose a topic for writing they will be learning to think on their own and make decisions on their own.  We won’t always be right alongside of our children when they need to think and make decisions but we can teach them how to do it.

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Making Connections

The next time that you read to your child, or that he/she reads to you, start talking to him/her about making connections with the book.  A connection is talking about what this book makes him/her think about.  There are 3 kinds of connections:  “text to self”, “text to text” and “text to world.”  Sometimes a connection happens as soon as your child hears the title.  The title might remind him of something in his/her own life (text to self), of another book that he/she has heard (text to text), or about something that he/she has observed in the world around him/her (text to world.)  The connection can happen on any page of the book, one never knows what exactly is going to make a child think about making a connection.  It is fascinating to watch Kindergarten children open up with their connections as the year progresses.  You very rarely see this happen in the fall of the Kindergarten year, but now that we are entering our 4th quarter of school and the children are very comfortable with small and large group discussions, we see connections happening all of the time. Sometimes it can be the illustrations that remind them of another book, or something funny the author says reminds them of something funny that they have experienced, or a connection can be made to a character in the book.  Connections happen whether you read fiction or non-fiction books to your child.  You might have already noticed that your child is beginning to make connections when you read to him/her at home.  If you have not witnessed it yet, start talking about it and encourage your child to talk about what he/she is thinking.  He/she will hear all about connections for the next several years, so now is the time to make the word connections part of your child’s vocabulary.

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Filed under First Grade, Improving Reading Skills, Kindergarten, Language Arts, Reading

Finding Sight Words When Reading

Kindergartners continue to learn sight words and many more will be taught before the end of the Kindergarten year.  As you read to your child each evening you might point out one word that he/she should be listening for or looking for as you read.  Choose a simple sight word that you know will be in the text that you read.( here  is a list of sight words from a previous blog of mine) to learn that these sight words show up all over the place, not just on the word wall at school. Start small and concentrate on only one page, more than that will cause your child to lose trace of the story.  Before reading, choose the one page and have your child look it over top to bottom and see if they can find the mystery sight word.  After it has been found, now you can read the story but have your child listen closely for the word to appear in the story.  This may seem like a small activity but children do need to know that these sight words appear everywhere, not just on walls or in books at school.  Give it a try with your own child and see if that one word doesn’t start showing up in his/her writing as well.

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Filed under Beginning Readers, Improving Reading Skills, Kindergarten, Language Arts, Reading

Children With Allergies

I spend several hours a day with 51 5 and 6 year old children.  Spring allergies have hit and nowhere are they more evident than in the Kindergarten classroom.  We are going through boxes of tissues quicker than they can be replaced.  I would like to see the children in my classroom who suffer from allergies be as prepared as possible to come to school and be ready to learn so I want to share a tip with all parents of children with allergies or who have allergies themselves.  Our pediatrician suggests that allergy sufferers shower or bathe as soon as they come into the house or at least change clothing.  He says that pollen attaches itself to the hair and clothing and then the person with the allergies brings this pollen with them wherever they go.  If a shower/or bath is not taken upon arriving into the house or at bedtime, all of the pollen in the hair rolls around the pillowcase, and nasal passages all night long.  An additional tip is to change the pillowcase of the allergy sufferer every day. Sorry, I don’t mean to preach but we are a family of allergy sufferers and these two tips, shower away the pollen and change the pillowcase daily have REALLY improved the health of our family members with allergies.


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