Teaching Kindergarten 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."


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


"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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