Learning to write in kindergarten is learning to think.
Learning to write gives our students a new voice. It allows them to think about ideas in a new way and share those ideas with others. It takes practice and we need to give our beginning writers opportunities to write every day in a variety of environments.
But what do we write about? One way to provide students practice is with visual writing prompts.
Visual writing prompts give beginning writers a jumping off point. It offers them a place to start.
How do we begin to support our students with visual writing prompts?
A good place to start is with the whole group sitting on the rug. Place an image on your board and talk about it. Ask the students “What do you see in the picture?” Honestly, keep going until they have labeled every single thing. Right down to a crack in the sidewalk! Make sure your students have the vocabulary they need.
Ask them to share their ideas in a full sentence. So instead of saying I see a “bed”, prompt them to use a full sentence. “Who is in the picture?” “What is she doing?” The goal is to move them from saying “bed” to “The girl is making a bed.” Spend about 5 minutes creating sentences to go with the picture. Your focus is to get them thinking about what they see and formulate sentences.
This pre-writing activity can be so eye-opening because it often becomes so crystal clear that most of kindergarteners speak in very simple phrases when they described a picture. When you ask “What do you see?” they often answer with “a bed”. You’ll begin to realize we are asking them to write in sentences but they don’t always express their ideas in sentences! So start to work on this. Every, Single. Day.
Being a 5 star writer
Model writing the sentence for them. It’s much easier for the students to pick out your mistakes. Make some intentional mistakes. Let them be the teacher and remind you to be a 5 star writer.
#1 Start with a capital letter.
#2 Use finger spaces.
#3 Write neatly.
#4 Make the sentence match the illustration.
#5 Use a punctuation to end the sentence.
Use writing prompts that combine cutting coloring and writing
Whatever you choose to use to prompt your students to write, make sure you get them writing every single day.