Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kindergarten Writers

I think Writer's Workshop is my favorite thing to teach young kids. I've never considered myself much of a writer. One of the reasons I started blogging, was to have writing experience to draw upon when we are talking about the things writer do. I want to be able to share my own thinking, as a writer. That's hard to do when the only thing you write is a grocery list, a note to a teacher, or an email to a parent. There are lots of reasons we write, but I wanted to find joy in my writing. (Not that I don't enjoy sending you emails!)

Blogging has helped me connect as a writer with my kindergarten writers. We need to make decisions about what to write, how to format our piece, which pictures or illustrations to use, or when a piece needs more work. Here are a few things our kindergarten students are working on now.

I like my cat.
This writer was in the middle of a piece of writing. He told me that he was going to add lots of details to the picture before he added his cat. You can see that he is using sight words and is also able to sound out simple words. This author doesn't quite have the idea of spacing or punctuation, but that will come as we progress through the year.

I Like Horses
This is the cover of a book that one of our kindergarteners is working on. Let me just say, most kindergarteners (and most of their teachers) cannot draw horses like this! She is an amazing artist! When I asked this little girl to tell me about her story, she told me about a magical Christmas horse. I find it very uncommon for kindergarten students to write fiction stories. They usually like to write about the thing they know best... themselves. I can't wait to see how this fiction story turns out!

I like my family.
Here is an example of a child who is transitioning into using punctuation. We often see young kids over use their punctuation when they first learn about it. They know that their teachers and parents praise them when they remember to put a period in their writing, so why not use it more often? I always try to remember that this is a developmental phase. I don't point out that this is wrong or incorrect. I use this as an opportunity to model. When I read a story to the class or do a demonstration, I point out the difference between a word and a sentence and show them where to put the period. Most kids are able to learn this concept through our modeling. Eventually, if students are still over using punctuation after a period of time, I will show them the proper way during a one on one conference. I always want to be careful not to crush the attempts of a beginning writer.

Christmas Eve
I love this piece. The girl who wrote this, found a book with the words Christmas Eve on it. She brought the book back to her desk and copied the words in the bottom corner. Earlier in the year, we had talked about putting labels on our picture. She has labeled the bed and the moon, using her best-guess spelling. Do you see those little circles on the moon? She explained to me that the moon has little circles on it, if you look very carefully, and she wanted to add that detail in her drawing. When I asked her to tell me more about her picture, she said, "It's Christmas Eve and my bed is in the living room because I'm waiting for Santa." At that point, I took some dictation. She had done lots of great writing, and I wanted her to remember this story.

Kindergarten writers are truly amazing. Our Winter Break is coming up and I'm sure many of you have adventures, family time, or celebrations planned. Please encourage your child to write about their experiences. I find that my daughter is more excited about writing when I write a book with her.We spend a lot of time writing side by side.  I always point out that my pictures aren't perfect, and that's ok.  You don't have to be an amazing artist to be a great writer.  My son, who is in 5th grade, really enjoys taking his own pictures. Sometimes he will add photos and writing to a scrapbook. Other times he will add to his own blog. However your child chooses to write, please encourage them! We'd love to see their writing when we return from break!
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