Tag Archives: 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:

http://journalbuddies.com/category/journal_prompts__journal_topics/

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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.

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Filed under First Grade, Homework, Language Arts, Writing

Writing in First Grade

I taught Kindergarten for over 25 years.  I KNOW what and how much Kindergartners are capable of writing in June of Kindergarten.  I have seen it with my own eyes.  But, something happens to these young, enthusiastic writers during the summer between Kindergarten and First Grade.  That something is not a good thing…it is called regression! I have a new group of first graders and I have seen their writing samples from just 3 months ago when they were in Kindergarten! Wow, the quality was great for their age. They were using capital letters, spaces, inventive spelling and correct spelling of some sight words.  Now these same writers are in first grade and when we talk about writing, they act as if they have never heard about it. What has happened is that they didn’t write every day during the summer and most of the writing skills that they acquired in Kindergarten are gone. I am back at the beginning of the process.  What I have to do it build up the desire to write, get back that enthusiasm and work on stamina…I am talking about writing more than one sentence at a time.  In June, some of these writers were writing 5, 6, 7 or more sentences.  Parents, please listen! Writing is a skill, just as reading and math are skills, and it cannot be ignored for a day, let alone a weekend, or an entire summer. By writing I don’t mean, that you the parent writes and your child copies perfect letters and words. How are they learning from that?  By writing, I mean, your child does the work:

  • He/she thinks of a topic
  • He/she sounds out and stretches out all of the sounds that he/she is developmentally able to hear at this moment
  • He/she starts each sentence with a capital/upper case letter
  • He/she places a period (.) or question mark (?) at the end of every sentence

Parents take a look at your child’s first grade writing and be realistic.  Does it look worse than his/her Kindergarten writing? If it does it is time to start practicing that writing skill……now! so that he/she will get back that love of writing that will last a lifetime.

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Filed under Writing

Cursive in Kindergarten

Every spring there are a few parents who insist upon teaching their 5 or 6 year old Kindergarten child to write in cursive.  What are these parents thinking?  It has taken me the entire school year to get these same children to write the uppercase and lowercase letters correctly going from top to bottom and now you want them to learn cursive!  Learning to write letters is very developmental and most young children would prefer to form letters from the bottom to the top rather than top to bottom.  Now that many, but not all Kindergartners, have the ability to form the letters correctly, please do not confuse the process by introducing cursive.  There are no first grade classrooms that I know of that teach/or allow cursive to be used so really parents, what IS the rush?  Please spend this time encouraging your child to continue to form letters correctly so that when he/she arrives in first grade correct letter formation will not become a problem.  Save learning cursive until it is taught at your child’s school.

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Filed under Kindergarten, Writing

Writing Bag For The Car

Today’s families spend a great deal of time in the family car.  This means that your Kindergartner probably also spends a great deal of time in the family car.  As tempting as DVD’s are to turn on and entertain the children, please turn the DVD off for short trips around town and have your child entertain himself/herself with his/her traveling writing  bag.  This can be any kind of a tote bag that you have filled with writing tools for your child to use ‘on the road.’  Fill it with:

A spiral notebook

Copy paper folded in half and stapled to make little books

Pencils

Erasers

A children’s picture dictionary

Markers

NO crayons (they melt!!)

Your child could write about any topic (maybe with some sentence starters from you). He/she could look out the car window and see something to write about, or write to a family member who lives far away, a family member that he/she lives with at home or even keep a travel journal that is written in only when he/she is in the car.  Children love journals and a spiral notebook is perfect for that and it will become a keepsake as the years go by. Happy Travel Writing to your child.

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Filed under First Grade, Kindergarten, Writing

Writing on Lined Paper

For most of the school year my Kindergartners do not write on paper with lines.  I don’t introduce writing on lines until the last few months of school.  Learning to form letters correctly takes a great deal of time and energy if you are 5 years old and when you add to that trying to squeeze the letter perfectly into a small space between the lines, the stress level really goes up.  Young children are developing their fine motor skills (muscles in the hands) and while doing this often use large tools such as oversized paintbrushes, large crayons, and large pieces of paper.  They have to eventually learn to put letters into proper spaces but first they must have time to learn how to put letters and thoughts down on paper.  Young children need lots of space to explore this new found skill called writing.  I do not limit my children with lines on paper because I have witnessed frustrated children who are trying so hard to form the correct letter and fit the letters into a small space.  These children often give up on writing rather than learning to be a risk taker because the thought of writing the letters ‘just right’ often interferes with the writing process.  If you are encouraging your child to write on lines at home, please stop.  As your child matures, so will his/her writing and fine motor skills.  Don’t worry there will be plenty of lined paper in first grade but for right now, we are just trying to develop young writers that love to write!

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Filed under Kindergarten, Writing

Erasing

Kindergarten writers make mistakes when writing. Older children and adults make mistakes when writing.  While older children and adults have the ability to erase and fix their work and start over, Kindergarten children just love erasing and lose the ability to move on in their writing.  5 and 6 year olds will erase and erase and erase until they have a hole in the paper and then after all of that, will forget what they were thinking about and what they wanted to fix.  Some Kindergarten teachers take the erasers off of all pencils so that the problem of erasing never happens.  I prefer teaching Kindergarten children to make a quick X over their mistake and keep moving on with their thoughts. When you make an X mark over the letters that are wrong and not needed it is quick and easy and does not interfere with the thinking that is taking place to accomplish the writing.  At home, please encourage your child to make a quick X over letters that he/she does not want and then keep on writing.

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Filed under Kindergarten, Language Arts, Writing