How do you make writing more than just narrative?

I never met a kindergartener that didn’t want to tell you about themselves. Ask them what they like and they are out of the gate with a whole list. But when it comes to writing we need them to write more than just  “I like my family, my mom is a good cook”. Of course there will always be a place for narrative writing but if your district uses the common core they will not be meeting the standards if they only write narratives. We need to move on to opinion and informational writing  right from the start. Not to mention the first grade teachers will love you if your kids have more practice with this type of writing.

So how do we get them to show higher level writing in kindergarten?  It’s all in the prompt. If we take some time and really look at what we are asking we can see if we change a few words we’ll push them to think a little more and not just remember. Our goal is not for them to tell us what they remember, but to tell us what they know/think.  Keep that in the back of your mind when writing prompts. Ask yourself “does this prompt ask them to really think?” If not change it.

Let’s take one of my favorite books Big Al and Shrimpy. I love reading this book at the beginning of the year.  A great book about friendship and about community, both awesome topics for the beginning of the year. You can check it out here

The story is about 2  fish friends that just don’t quite fit in with the other fish. They go off on their own and they find themselves in trouble. So Shrimpy realizes he needs help solving a problem. He organizes everyone to help his friend Big Al. They all live happily ever after.   In the past I asked the kids to describe their favorite part of the story. A fine, narrative prompt. But honestly we should expect more, and they can do more.  So we change the prompt just a little and ask. How did Shrimpy solve Big Al’s problem? Now suddenly, they need to know what happened but they also need to know what events led to solving the problem.  Now our writing prompt is a text dependent question.  They may only be 5 but we are now moving them up good ole Blooms Taxonomy. And isn’t that our goal?

We’ll be talking a lot more about writing prompts that push the kids thinking but for now, if you would like a free copy of my Big Al and Shrimpy listening center and writing prompt click Big Al and Shrimpy writing prompt

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