When it comes to kindergarten writing lessons, you might rightly say that there’s only one right way to write, right? WRONG!
Writing takes many forms in kindergarten, from scribbling, to oddly shaped letters, to whole words. Maybe even complete sentences (unlike this one). What’s most important at that age is getting kids to understand that they can express ideas without actually talking.
Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!
And by writing, I don’t mean penmanship. Neatness and the cursed cursive will come later, if at all. No, the writing lessons I’ll introduce today are all about two things: multimedia and fun.
In general, kids should be encouraged to write with anything, on anything, about anything. There. That’s really all you need to know. But bear in mind that kindergarteners also need structure, so requiring them to sit at a table and stay on task for several minutes is an important lesson unto itself.
Here are some awesome kindergarten writing lessons that your future little bards will adore, starting with an enticing way to get those little shavers to sit still: shaving cream.
1. Shaving Cream with a Twist
Everyone’s heard of using shaving cream (and other materials such as sand and play dough) to teach letter formation. But may I suggest an updated version: the shaving cream “selfie”?
1 can shaving cream; 2 cookie sheets with rims; paper towels; 1 camera.
Spread a thick layer of shaving cream over the surfaces of 2 cookie sheets. Using your cookie sheet, demonstrate the drawing of a letter of the alphabet. Then have your little copycat try it on his own sheet.
Wipe your hands on paper towels (that part is very important if you value your camera) and snap a photo of your child with his creation. After each picture is taken, wipe the “boards” clean by smoothing them with your hands, and they will be ready for the next shape, drawing, letter, or word.
This lesson can be modified easily. For example, draw a shape, draw a picture, write the first letter of their name, write their whole name, guess the letter, and guess the word. The photos can be printed out and saved in a notebook to show progress.
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2. What’s in a Name?
The act of writing involves another important skill: sequencing. Children need to learn that words are made up of letters that fall in a certain order.
1 piece of 8 ½“ x 11” paper, cut in half vertically; 2 markers (one black, one any other color); scissors; envelope.
Using the black marker, print your child’s name in block letters across the length of one strip of paper, with about an inch of space between each letter. Repeat this step using the other marker.
Using the first strip, run your finger from left to right across the whole name while reading it aloud to your child. Next, point to each letter in turn, from left to right, and say the letters’ names aloud. Ask your little monkey to repeat this step after you.
Switch to the second strip. Read the letters aloud in order again, and then cut them apart. Scramble the pieces. Now ask your puzzler to help you put them back in order. She can use the uncut strip as a reminder.
Encourage your child to say the names of the letters aloud as he places them in order. Be liberal with the hints if needed.
Complete the lesson by putting the letters in an envelope and helping your child write something on it with one or both markers. (My guess is she’ll choose both and then will ask if you have any more markers.)
He can try writing his name (with your help) or he may choose to just draw a scribble or picture. The point of the marker (pun intended) is to get him to put pen to paper in a meaningful way.
Once in their envelope, the letters can be used again and again. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel (or the lesson) every day!
Personalize this lesson by using her name or that of a friend, book character, or pet. After she gets better at it, try it without using the uncut strip as a guide. For kids who know how to read, you could even try cutting a story apart sentence by sentence, and having them arrange the sentences in order.
3. Shopping for Toppings
One way to turn writing into a practical learning experience that will get your kids hopping is to go shopping for toppings. After the lesson is completed, you will have created a week’s worth of menus and won’t have to ask yourself “what’s for dinner” until the following week.
Paper; pencils; cookbooks or magazines with pictures of food.
Tell your hungry hippos that you need help making a shopping list. Sit down with them at the kitchen table where you’ve stacked paper, pencils, and cookbooks or magazines.
Pass out the paper and pencils and ask them to show you what they would like to sprinkle on top of tacos, rice, pasta, mashed potatoes, or ice cream. (YOU get to decide among these basic foundations.)
Depending on a kindergartener’s writing skill, he may just draw a picture of what he wants, or he could copy a few letters or even whole words right out of the pages of the book or magazine.
You will need to follow through by taking her “lists” with you to the store and buying some of the items she’s listed. You can control her choices to some extent by providing only pictures of healthy foods!
On the other hand, if your child wants chocolate sprinkles on his mashed potatoes, and he’s managed to write “C” and “S” on his paper, maybe now is the time to reward him with a big helping of chocolate sprinkles. Who knows, it might become a family favorite.
4. Rainbow Letters
Here’s an easy lesson for a rainy day. It will keep your tikes out of trouble while they immerse themselves in some coloring fun. Unbeknownst to them, they’ll be learning the shapes of letters while doing so.
Paper; crayons or markers; imagination.
Find a free, printable alphabet coloring website like this one and select one or more letters of the alphabet in the style that you like best. Personally, I think “abstract” is awesome!
Hand the printed pages to your tiny artist and let her go to town with her crayons or markers. When she’s finished, have her turn the paper over and make a drawing or list of things that start with that letter.
You’ll want to pump up the educational value of this lesson by saying the name of the letter, talking about the sound it makes, and asking for or providing examples of words that start with that letter sound.
5. It’s a Mad Lib World
The idea behind mad libs is that someone fills in the blanks in a simple story with random words, resulting in a hilarious story that might otherwise be quite boring.
Picture books; pencil; paper.
Using a picture book as a reference, copy the text onto a sheet of paper. Then select certain words and substitute them with blank lines instead. For each blanked out word, write a category for that word under or next to the line.
Here is an example from “Goodnight Moon”:
“In the _____ (size) _________(color) room there was a ________ (object) and a _______ (size) _________ (food) and a picture of — a _________ (animal) jumping over a ______ (person).”
Show your child the story. Explain that they will be filling in the blanks to “write” a new story. Then remove the story from his view and ask him to think of a word for each category.
Write the words down (better yet, help him to do so) on a separate sheet of paper. Then read the new and improved story, substituting your child’s chosen words.
Your new story might sound something like this:
“In the tiny orange room there was a sneaker and a humongous pizza and a picture of – a tiger jumping over a Mommy.”
For a kindergartener with some basic reading skills, you could hand her a list of common sight words written underneath category headings, instead of asking her to come up with the words herself.
You can even visit a website like this one to see some sample stories and kindergarten sight word lists. Again, why reinvent the wheel, especially if yours is missing some spokes?
Try these kindergarten writing lessons and let me know how you go with them!