Category Archives: Writing

Sentence Starters

Yesterday I talked about making short patterned books for the early reader and writer.  For more detailed information, please read yesterday’s blog and remember that only 1 sentence starter should be used per book.  The same sentence starter should be used on every page of the book.  Today I will give you part 2 of the list of Sentence Starters for these books.  These are just some of the repetitive patterns most frequently used for beginning readers.

Can you…..?

Can you see a…..?

Can you see the…..?

Can you see my…..?

Here is a …..

Here is my…..

This is a…..

This is the…..

This is my…..

I like a…..

I like the…..

I like my…..

I like to go to…..

Look at the…..

Look at me in the…..

Look up at the…..

Come to the…..

Go to the…..

We can…..

We are…..

We like…..

It is a…




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

Write Every Day


  1. Your child should be writing every chance that he/she gets.  Put a pencil, crayon, marker or paintbrush in your child’s hand and let them explore the writing process.  Knowing how to write your thoughts down on paper takes many, many weeks, months and years to practice.  Many incoming Kindergarten and first grade children know their letters and sounds but they are hesitant to use them when writing for fear of making mistakes.  Encourage your child to try and write the first sound that they hear in any sound.  If they want to write Mom, have your child sound out the first sound, M.  If your child wants to write pumpkin, have your child sound out the first sound, P, etc. If you have a reluctant writer, a child who won’t even give writing a try, then have him/her write the alphabet letters for practice just to be able to put letters down on paper.  Writing begins with baby steps and that’s where we are in Kindergarten and even at the beginning of first grade, learning our baby steps of writing.  Please have paper available for your child along with writing tools such as pencils and markers.  If you are headed to the grocery store, have your child ‘write’ down your list.  If you are preparing dinner, have your child ‘write’ down what you need from the cabinet before you can prepare your meal.  Young children will write when they have a purpose, but often will not, when they are presented with a sheet of paper, a pencil and an order to ‘write’.  Help get them started and then watch out, your child’s writing will really take off.

Re-posted from 2009

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Filed under Beginning Readers, First Grade, Improving Reading Skills, Kindergarten, Language Arts, Parents, Writing

Spelling In Kindergarten

We don’t teach spelling in Kindergarten; rather we encourage children to write down all of the sounds that they hear in words while writing.  They are not perfect in this process; however, they are also not fearful of making mistakes.  Many children arrive in Kindergarten from homes where parents wanted to give their children a jump start on Kindergarten writing and have taught their children to spell words at home.  These children know a limited amount of words that they can spell and write perfectly and use these same words over and over again in their writing.  This does not make for very creative writing as the children only write with the few words that they know from their spelling words database in their head.  These children do not wish to make mistakes and have absolutely no risk taking with their work.  Kindergarten teachers would much rather that your child arrive in Kindergarten knowing some letters and sounds and leave the actual teaching of the writing process to us.  We are trained in encouraging the children to do their best throughout all of the stages of the writing process.  Very quickly, the stages of the writing process are:

  • Scribbling
  • Writing letters and shapes mixed together
  • Writing random letters in any order (that makes no sense)
  • Writing using only beginning sounds with the rest of each word containing several random letters
  • Writing using beginning and ending sounds
  • Writing using beginning, middle and ending sounds
  • Writing the words as they should be spelled

If you do not allow your child to progress developmentally through all of these stages, the end result will not be as you wish.  Children who come to me at the scribbling, or random letters stages of development turn out to be much better writers than children who come to me knowing some spelling words.  Please do not teach spelling words to your child in Kindergarten.

Re-posted from 2009

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Filed under Alphabet, First Grade, Improving Reading Skills, Kindergarten, Language Arts, Parents, Writing

Every Letter Every Day

In Kindergarten we teach and then review every one of the 26 alphabet letters every day.  We say every letter, every day. Some philosophies on teaching the letters and sounds revolve around learning a letter a week.  However, if you don’t learn the letter M,m until after January it makes it difficult to begin to write words with all sounds if you haven’t been taught all of the letter sounds.  We ask parents to review all 26 letters and sounds at least once a day at home with their child.  All you need for this method is a pack of alphabet letter flash cards.  We keep our letter flash cards in order for the first nine weeks of school, so the review would go like this, Letter name, then name of picture that begins with that letter, and finally the alphabet sound itself.

A, apple, a, b, boy, b.

Children will learn their letters and sounds when they are developmentally ready.  No amount of drilling from the parents or teachers will make it happen before its time, but the key is to your child being ready for reading and writing, is for us to provide the foundations that are needed.  Even if your child knows all of the letters by looking at them and naming them, learning the letter sounds and then being able to use the sounds in phonetic writing is the next stage of development.  It all starts with 26 little letters.  Start working with your child now to reinforce what is being taught in Kindergarten; all you need are 26 alphabet letter flash cards.


Re-posted from 2009

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

Parents are Child’s Primary Teachers

Your child will encounter many teachers in his/her lifetime. Not only will there be teachers in the classroom, but there will be just as many outside of the classroom.  He/she will have teachers in sports, after school activities, music lessons, girl/boy scouts etc.  Your child will have to listen and learn from many adults but the most important teacher for your child is YOU! Yes, you! Your child’s learning is ongoing and he/she will be learning many new activities throughout his/her day, but he/she will depend upon you to help keep the learning going when he/she gets home. How to do this? During dinnertime conversation, or at bedtime:

  • Ask your child to tell you about his/her day
  • Ask your child to tell you about one new thing that he/she learned that day
  • Find ways to extend what your child is learning about school
  • If he/she is learning about a new artist in Art class, visit a local art museum
  • Play board games that reinforce math skills that are being taught
  • When your child is learning about animals, visit a local zoo or animal habitat where your child can see and learn first hand
  • When your child is learning about an important person in history, find out where local museums, or local neighborhoods are celebrating the life of that person…and then go there
  • Take your child to the local library to check out books to explore the topic
  • Look online for games, activities, lessons, videos that will reinforce what is being taught in the classroom

Remember parents, your child and your child’s teachers will be expecting your help in your child’s learning process. Please don’t let them down!

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Filed under First Grade, Improving Reading Skills, Kindergarten, Language Arts, Library, Math, Parents, Reading, Science, Social Skills, Writing

Journal Writing

This is the time of the year when Kindergartners and First Grade really take off with their writing.  They have been learning and developing the skills needed for writing for 6 months and they are now ready to use them.  Teachers really enjoy this time of the year.  It is when most children start to consistently and independently use the skills that they have been taught this year.  We see it in the classroom, children are writing letters to each other, to teachers, writing books and writing every chance they get. One way to keep this enthusiasm alive at home is to encourage your child to keep a journal at home.  Not only does this help them to keep their writing and thinking skills sharp, the journal will act as a time capsule of this particular time in their lives.  All that your child needs is a notebook, a pencil and a quiet working space.  He/she should be writing every day for enjoyment having nothing to do with any homework assignments.  The more they write, the more they will enjoy writing.  When you take a long car drive, bring the journal, when you go away for the weekend, bring the journal. Definitely when you go away for an extended period of time, bring the journal.  Writing in the journal at the end of a day can help your child recap his/her day and they could another dimension to the journal by adding illustrations. Please get your child a blank notebook and watch the journal fill up with all of your child’s wonderful thoughts and memories.

If your child is unsure as to how to begin, here is a list of prompts that will get the creativity flowing:


Filed under First Grade, Kindergarten, Language Arts, Writing

Writing With Details

First graders are asked to write all throughout the first grade day, not just during ‘Writing’ time.  Children are now writing during Reading, Math, Science and Social Studies in their journals for all of these subjects.  It is all of this writing practice that makes them a better writer, or I should say that it should make them better writers. The problem is that 6 and 7 year olds just want to get finished.  It doesn’t matter what they are working on, to them, finishing is the end product, not how well did they do the job.  This is where the writing problem begins.  Encouraging a first grader to write with details is challenging but it can be done.  First grade teachers are teaching about writing with details.  We do not want the sentence:  I have a dog.  We would rather see I have a large, brown and white dog that sleeps with me every night. The sentence may seem long, but they can do it.  Just listen to a first grader talk.  Do they ever stop talking? No!  They have the vocabulary needed for longer sentences, just not the interest or stamina.  That’s where all of the adults come in.  When your child is writing his/her homework, or writing in his/her journal, or writing thank you notes, etc.,  please encourage your first grader to add details to his/her writing.  It makes their writing much more interesting to read when details have been added.  You could even give them a highlighter and ask them to highlight the details when they are done.  First graders love highlighters! Come on parents, expect more from your child’s writing and you will see that you will start to get it.


Filed under First Grade, Homework, Language Arts, Writing