kindergarten writing

Amazing – five year old authors and illustrators!

Have you ever seen a five year old, of average intelligence, write her own little book out of folded construction paper? Last year was my first year teaching Kindergarten students how to be authors. I was inspired by the book Already Ready by Katie Wood Ray and Matt Glover. I was skeptical at first, until I saw my daughter start writing her own mini-books. She was also a Kindergarten student at the time. I now have a collection of her original works as a five year old author, from August to May. This year, I launched my Writer’s Workshop again. Here is how I began.

First, I folded and cut one piece of white construction paper into 1/4th’s and then stapled it. I had one for each child made before the lesson. Next, I started a mini-lesson and read a “mentor text” -a simple Dr. Seuss book (“I Can Read With My Eyes Shut”). I showed how the author drew pictures and wrote words to match them. I explained how the author stayed on topic and wrote about reading, and not flowers. Next, I explained to my students that they are authors and illustrators too and that they would start making their own books. I showed them the little book and told them how I was going to write a book of my own about cats, because I like cats, a lot. So, I began writing simple sentences on each little page. Page 1- “I like cats.” Page 2- “I like orange cats.” Page 3- “I like striped cats.” Page 4- “I like black cats.” Page 5- “I like little cats.” “The end.”

I asked my students to think about what they like and what they would like to write about. Amazingly, it took only seconds for them to think and tell their buddy what they wanted to write about. I heard these ideas from my students: “race-cars!” “lipstick,” and “puppies!” Finally, I gave each child a little tiny book and they began writing. I reminded them to write their title first and their name, since they were the authors. I must say, I was so amazed by their cute and simple illustrations. Most students wrote no words yet, but that is ok, as Katie Wood Ray asserts in her books. Illustrations can tell a story and this is how we encourage students to begin reading-to look at the pictures and tell what is happening. So, this is how we encourage writing, by beginning with illustrations.

After about 5-7 minutes of writing, I told the students that we would have to stop for now and continue writing tomorrow, during our Writer’s Workshop. They begged for more time, but I showed them their brand new Writer’s Workshop folders (pocket folders) where they would put their little books. My student’s were so proud of their books. The next day, I had them begin on the rug with their books and “read” their books to a buddy. I paired up each student with a buddy, to make it less chaotic and to ensure that each child had someone to “read” to. After a minute of sharing, I instructed them to go back to their tables and write some more.

In my next postings about writing little books, I will address what to do with those students who just scribble or only write their name on each page, if even that. To read more about Katie Wood Ray and Matt Glover’s books about writing, follow this link: http://www.heinemann.com/shared/onlineresources/E01073/RayAlreadyFlyer.pdf

Already Ready: Nurturing Writers in Preschool and KindergartenIn Pictures and In Words: Teaching the Qualities of Good Writing Through Illustration Study

Writers workshop folder label

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The use of color inspired my little ones. We noticed how the illustrator chose to use black paper for her book and how it made the book for colorful and spooky! So, we decided to write our own spooky books! Many students wrote about monsters too!

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Title "Dragons, Alligators and Monsters"

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Jackson wrote: "I see a monster"

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"The alligator"

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"He has no mouth or nose"

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"The end"

Ryan’s book about “Camping With Dad.”

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Since it is the beginning of the year, Kindergarten students do not yet understand the cocept of "sounding out" words to write them. Many of them are at the phonetical or pre-phonetical stage of writing, which is actually developmentally appropriate. However, I help them to "sound out" titles for their books by making a running list. This is the list that we compiled before writing in the little black spooky books.

Book boxes for “The Daily 5”

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These are cereal boxes that I cut, and I plan to use them for my book boxes in my classroom. “The Daily 5” book is a great teacher resource, that gives simple ideas about how to instill more reading into your classroom routine. I have only used “The Daily 5” for one year, but I love it and am excited to use it even better this school year. Last year, I used magazine file boxes, that had been given to me-brand new. They did end up falling apart, and I had to tape the bottoms up with book tape. But they lasted for the school year. However, I did not want to go through the same thing again and decided to make my own book boxes-for free. I just need at least 15 more boxes to start out the school year. My parents and family have been instructed to save them up for me!

So, what is “The Daily 5”? Authors, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser have created these five components to encourage daily reading in the classroom:

1. Read to Self– This is silent reading time. Last year, I began the first 15-20 minutes of the day with silent reading. The students used their book boxes to read. Every book in the box was on the students’ reading level, with nothing too hard or too easy. I allowed students to change books out every few weeks.

2. Read to Someone- This can be buddy reading or reading with a partner. I incorporate this step into my Reading Center, where there are usually 2-3 students at a time. I think that the more students read, the better readers that they will become, as a result.

3. Listen to Reading– I incorporated this into my daily read-alouds. Since I love reading and I love reading to children, I usually read about 2-3 books a day to students. I believe that when children hear more reading, they enjoy more reading.

4. Work on Writing– I this into my Writing Center, where I have pre-stapled books available for students to write and illustrate their own “little books.” Last year, this was the most popular station in my classroom! Writing develops reading skills too!

5. Word Work- I also make this a Center station. I change the activity every 1-2 weeks. This is where I include activities for the phonics skill, which I work on during Guided Reading groups. So, if the skill is -at words, th- words or beginning sounds-I place an activity about it here.

I am excited to use The Daily 5 again this year!

20110919-062136.jpg Here are the boxes-filled with books!