Sunday, November 17, 2013

Strategies for Teaching Writing in Kindergarten

Kindergarten students enter the school year with varying levels of ability, especially when it comes to writing. As a kindergarten teacher, I’ve seen a range of writing, from scribbling to writing sentences. The key is to begin with where they are. We all know that kindergartners are full of thoughts and ideas. They just don’t know how to express what they’re thinking in writing.

After students are comfortable with the writing process, I begin to introduce them to the mechanics of writing simple sentences. When teaching students about writing, I explain to them that writing is like telling a story on paper. I begin by showing them what their thoughts look like. For example, I have them share an idea while I write it on the chart. In the beginning I emphasize the content of the writing rather than grammatical correctness.

At the beginning of the school year, I introduce my students to writing simple sentences. I like to begin the sentence and have my students finish it. Some starters I use are "I am," "I like," "I can," and "I want." After several weeks of using sentence starters, many of my students are confident and ready to begin writing their own sentences.

Once my students have mastered writing simple sentences, I encourage them to add a little sparkle to their work. For example, if a student writes “I like dogs,” have them explain what types of dogs they like. Continue by guiding them through the creation of a new sentence. For example: “I like brown dogs with curly hair.”

I also like to use this expanding sentence activity when teaching my students to add descriptive words. I model this activity with my students several times to help them understand and master the concept.

Writing is a skill that requires daily practice. Each day my students begin their morning by writing in their journals. Students are free to write about a topic of their choice. Journal writing is a great way for your students to practice articulating their thoughts. Journals encourage students to retell or create their own stories as well as to practice fine motor skills and letter formation. Journals can also help teacher’s measure progress and find out more about their students' interests.



Nora Sierra

Early Childhood Coordinator


Monday, November 11, 2013

10 Reading Readiness Skills for Kindergarten Kids

Today's parents are often shocked when they come to school for orientation and see what's on the docket when it comes to reading. What happened to a full day of crayons? What happened to unlimited time in the sand box?
Without a doubt, the skills taught in kindergarten today look more like the skills taught in first grade a decade or two ago, especially when it comes to reading.  But fret not, because these high reading expectations for young students are accompanied by very strategic teaching methods, and a meticulous progression of skills that build upon one another. Your child can meet the reading goals set by his teacher, especially if he's on track when he first enters kindergarten. So, is he?
While every teacher and school has their own set of “prerequisites,” there's a set of general reading expectations that most teachers share, when it comes to kids entering kindergarten. Before entering kindergarten, a student well prepared for reading should be able to:
1.    Read her name
2.    Recite the alphabet
3.    Recognize some or all of the letters in the alphabet
4.    Correspond some or all letters with their correct sound
5.    Make rhymes
6.    Hold a book right side up with the spine on the left, front cover showing
7.    Recognize that the progression of text is left to right, top to bottom
8.    Echo simple text that is read to them
9.    Recognize that text holds meaning
10. Re-tell a favorite story
If your child is not quite steady in all of these areas, don't panic! Every child enters kindergarten at a different level and teachers expect a huge variation in the skills each student brings. They're trained to optimize success for each individual, no matter what. According to Lesley M. Morrow, Ph.D. and Distinguished Professor of Literacy at Rutgers University in New Jersey, one of the main reasons kindergarten reading is taught in small groups, is so teachers can easily cater to different levels of reading readiness. More advanced readers can be taught in a way that limits boredom, and more beginning readers at a pace that minimizes frustration.

Sunday, November 3, 2013



Young children can and do write. They want to show others what they know. Children

move through three states of scribbling for writing according to Clay (1975). In the first stage

they scribble for pleasure. In the second stage children acquire the knowledge that written

symbols convey meaning and they believe adults can read their writing. The third stage includes

mock letters and beginning letter sounds. The children describe their messages by what they

hope they have written.

Along with writing, children draw. Drawing is one of the primary ways children

communicate. There are also stages of drawing. These stages include: scribbling, preschematic,

schematic, gang, pseudo- naturalistic and the period of decision (Lowenfeld 1987) Kindergarten

students are typically in the preschematic or schematic stage. The preschematic stage is

characterized by symbols constantly changing. The schematic stage is characterized by objects

sitting on a baseline and child’s active knowledge of the subject. The amount and quality of

detail also progresses from a minimal stage to increasing attention to more specificity working its

way towards greater elaboration and patterning (Carroll 2003).

According to Karnowski (1986) young writers use drawing to explain their writing and

they use it as a prewriting strategy. Drawing helps children plan and organize the written text.

Often students will draw first in order to get their thoughts on paper. After the thoughts are

drawn the children can use their picture to remember their story and write it down. Vygotsky

(1978) stated that children’s drawings capitalize on the narrative impulse that emerges in their

earliest drawings, on their tendency to create story drawings and on the talk that surrounds and

supplements the drawing events.

There is a correlation between children’s drawing levels and writing readiness because

both are grounded in making shapes, lines and symbolic representation (Carroll 2003). As

writing progresses, so does children’s reading readiness. Children learn to read and write most

easily when they encounter texts that they themselves have authored (Sidelnick, Svoboda 2000 p

175) Teachers must capitalize on this knowledge to help create great readers and writers.

Teachers of these young students must remember several guidelines when allowing

students to write. Teachers need to know what their students understand about communication

and writing upon entering school. With this knowledge teachers can help foster writing in their

class. Teachers need to redefine their idea of writing. Writing in the early years takes many

forms and all must be valued and encouraged if a teacher wants to see growth in all their

children. Teachers must also understand that children use everything they know about

communication in oral language, art, music and drama to make sense of the writing process. The

children use familiar communication systems to add depth and meaning to their newly acquired

skill of writing (Karnowski 1986).

Children will make progress with their drawing and writing if they are provided with

time, materials, information, and freedom to invent meaningful language (Hayes 1990).

Children need to be immersed in a literacy focused environment in order to foster their writing


Children in an environment that fosters writing should be given different occasions to

write. These opportunities will provide students with extending their writing knowledge.

Children should at times use a sketchbook/journal where they can freely write and draw what

they want to. They also should attempt drawing by diction. It requires another level of

processing skills. A third type of drawing is drawing by request. A topic is given to the children

and they must write or draw about it. All of these help children to become great writers.

Great writers use certain qualities when they write. These qualities have become known

as traits. 6 Trait writing is a “hot button” topic in schools throughout the world.


What is 6 Trait Writing?

6 Trait Writing began in 1983 when a school in Oregon wanted to assess student writing as well as teach writing. They wanted an instrument that would provide accurate, reliable

feedback to students and teachers that would help guide instruction. In order to understand what


good writing was a group of teachers read hundreds of papers written by students. They agreed

upon six qualities that demonstrate great writing. The qualities, now known as traits are,

· Ideas (details, development, focus)

· Organization (internal structure)

· Voice (tone, style, purpose, and audience)

· Word choice (precise language and phrasing)

· Sentence fluency (correctness, rhythm, and cadence)

· Conventions (mechanical correctness)

· And another has now been added. . .presentation (handwriting, formatting, layout)

These traits became the foundation for the descriptive criteria used to define qualities of

good writing at different levels of achievement. Rubrics were created to assess the writing done

by students.



Ms. Nora Sierra


April 20, 2018

Wrapping Up the School Year The end of the school year brings the expected joy at finishing another year, and perhaps some sadne...