Teaching Children to Write Words

Monday, 8 October 2018


When it comes to reading, sounding out is not the only strategy we teach children to use when figuring out an unknown word.  There are several others that work in combination with each other to help young readers be successful.

Teaching kindergarten children how to write spell words


It is the same with writing! While using sound spelling to write words is an important strategy for emerging writers, there are others that children can use to help them communicate their ideas on paper.

Here are the four strategies I teach my Kinders to use when writing words:

Teaching kindergarten children how to write spell words

Snap Words

These are the words children already know how to spell and can do so quickly (in a snap!). I explain to children, "These are words that you have a picture of in your head."

Examples for beginning-of-the-year Kinders might include sight words they have learned, names of family members, or words like "mom," "dad," "dog," "cat," or "love."

Teaching kindergarten children how to write spell words


The strategy here is to teach them to be conscious of the growing word bank in their heads and to always use this strategy first over others, as we don't want them sounding out words they already know how to spell.

Wall Words

There are some words children can write using resources in the classroom.  These are called, "Wall Words," because many are on signs, posters, labels or word walls in your classroom and children can easily copy them when they want to spell them.  

With this strategy, you will want to think ahead about which categories of words your children will use most and create charts (with children if possible) for them to use while writing.  Hang in spots where they can be easily seen and accessed by children. 

Teaching kindergarten children how to write spell words

Look-Alike Words

Look-alike words are those that follow the same spelling pattern.  This is a great strategy to teach while introducing rhyming and/or word families.  

You might say, "If you can spell cat, then you can spell hat."  "If you can spell look, then you can spell book."  

As you support children in writing, you will ask, "Is there a word you know that looks like this word that will help you to spell it?"

As you teach new sight words, use them as jumping off points for finding other look-alike words.

Sound Spelling Words

This is the strategy children should use if they are unable to use the first three. It involves saying the word slowly, stretching or tapping out the individual sounds and writing the letters for the sounds that are heard.  

This multi-step strategy requires a LOT of modeling and practice before children are able to use it efficiently. 

Phonemic awareness tasks such as segmenting support children in being able to do this well.   

I've created a few Tap and Write resources for my own children to use to provide for this ongoing practice.

Teaching kindergarten children how to write spell words
  

Write Aloud 

With all of the above strategies, you will want to model each as you write aloud in front of children.

You might say:

"Is it a snap word? Yes, it is! I have a picture of this word in my head and can write it quickly."

or

"That is a color word. I can find that word on the wall in the art center."

or

"It's not a snap word, wall word, or look-alike word. I'll have to use my sound spelling to write it.  Watch me tap and write this word by saying each sound slowly."

Guiding Writers

This summer I added a Word Writing resource to the Guiding Writers series to support my kiddos during those beginning stages of writing.

This ten-day plan includes teaching the above strategies as well as lessons on concepts of print such as directionality and spacing associated with writing words.

Teaching kindergarten children how to write spell words

Next up is a sentence writing resource that will be ready to share very soon!  Follow my TPT store to know when it becomes available.

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Kindergarten Teamwork

Saturday, 29 September 2018


kindergarten teamwork

Teamwork was this week's Positivity Project character strength.  Here are some of the ways we explored working together.

Table Teams

We recently established "table teams" and this gave us an opportunity to talk about how we were  already showing teamwork within our classroom.  Here's how they work!

The children are divided into 3 table teams and are encouraged to use table manners and good work habits while working at these tables.  

kindergarten teamwork

kindergarten work habits

Each table has a team name (sun, moon, Earth) and table manner sticks (craft sticks) are awarded to positively reinforce these behaviors. 

kindergarten teamwork

At the end of the week, we count the sticks and the team with the most becomes the VIP table for the following week.  They get to keep a "trophy" (balloon weight) on their table and are always called first to line up. 

kindergarten teamwork

Since there are times when one or two members of the team are not showing good table manners/work habits, it was important for us to talk about about what they could do to help everyone be their best (i.e. remind them, help them, etc.)

Book Talks

Teamwork is a common theme in many children's books including those categorized as "pulling stories."  The children love these outrageous books that show characters working toward a common goal.  They are also great for retelling and illustrating a plus one pattern in math.


kindergarten teamwork

kindergarten teamwork

kindergarten teamwork

kindergarten teamwork


Another favorite is Pumpkin Soup, which opens a door to talking about what happens when working together isn't going so well. 

kindergarten teamwork

Animal Teamwork

Some of the best examples of teamwork show up in nature! This video, showing animal teamwork, was a big hit with my kiddos! (note: you might want to skip the dancing girl at the beginning when showing this!)

   

This led to a little research into how bees/wasps show teamwork to build their hive and make wax and honey.



kindergarten teamwork

Ants are also a great choice for exploring animal teamwork!

Team Challenges

Finally, we tried a few challenges that helped children realize it wasn't always easy to work as a team.  Through these experiences, I was able to point out that while the goal was important, the people were more important! #otherpeoplematter

kindergarten teamwork

Here the children were challenged to untie the human knot they had created.  You can find instructions in this video:

 

At morning meeting, we used a spider web greeting to show that teamwork requires everyone do their part.

kindergarten teamwork

Finally, I challenged the table teams to work together to do a puzzle, build a bridge, and assemble a red picture.

kindergarten teamwork

kindergarten teamwork

kindergarten teamwork

They were told that if problems came up, they would have to try to work them out themselves rather than asking for my help.

One of the teams did an amazing job working together.  The other two had some difficulty, mostly due to some children "taking over" and not including everyone in the work.

While this week definitely gave us a chance to grow our thinking around teamwork, there is definitely more work to be done! We will continue to build upon this as it comes up naturally throughout the year.

How do you build teamwork in your classroom?

Thanks for stopping by!

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September Full Moon Freebie

Sunday, 23 September 2018


Fall is here and it's a great time to take learning outdoors and search for signs of the season.

This full moon freebie makes it easy to do just that!

Take your kiddos on a fall walk that centers around the question, "What is a sign of fall?" and includes opportunities for them to observe and take notes as they explore seasonal changes in their environment.


Use the before, during, and after the walk lesson plan to guide you throughout the experience and the printable field notes and booklet to document observations.


Take photos along the way to use as a reference once you are back in the classroom.  Compare them to the photos you take on your winter and spring walks so children can observe seasonal changes over time.




Invite children to continue to look for signs of the season beyond the walk and bring in fall "wonders" to observe, sketch, and explore.



Let's Take a Fall Walk is free for the next 48 hours, so grab it while you can. After that time, it will only be available for purchase.


And if you enjoy this experience, try taking a leaf walk to help kids identify the trees found on your school property.



Enjoy the season and look for the next full moon freebie to appear on October 24th!


 Thanks for stopping by!

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