The end of the year is one of those times that we love because we are ready for summer and we dread it because there is still SO much to cover. Writing is one of those things. There is never enough time to get writing in as well as I’d hoped. I want to share some of my kindergarten writing minilessons that I use for the end of the year to wrap things up.
Correct Sentence Structure
This is a BIG one. Kindergarten students are learning so much in their first year that sometimes, they forget a thing or two here and there. Using the correct sentence structure is one of those. The first time that I teach how to write a sentence, I make sure to use my checklist. It’s my tried and true sentence helper that usually helps my students correct their own sentences.
Whenever I notice that a small group or even my whole class is having issues with remembering what to put in their sentences, we have a very short minilesson. This is a 5-minute lesson on a very specific topic. For this one, we talk all about the structure of a sentence. I either write out a checklist on anchor chart paper or put one of our checklists under the document camera for them to view. We check a few sentences using the checklist. These work well with kindergarten writing, but I have also used these in a first grade classroom for writing. The checklist is on most of our writing paper and also in our kindergarten writing journals.
This works perfectly when you are doing fix-it sentences as well. They are able to quickly see what is wrong and what was left off. The biggest tip that I have for sentence structure is repetition. If you keep going over it, they will get it. Guaranteed.
Details in Illustrations
Included in the checklist is a spot for an illustration. However, it just asks if they drew their illustration with a setting and characters. Throughout the year, we discuss in great length that illustrations should also include detail. One minilesson idea that you can try for a week straight is to draw 5 pictures. These pictures should all be different and include very LITTLE detail. Have the students name things that you can add that will help your picture tell more of a story.
This puts them in the seat of thinking about what you add when you need more details. When we continuously tell them what we can add, it doesn’t help them to be active thinkers. Allowing your students to have a voice helps them to see that it’s really not as hard as they think it is to add more to their pictures. This also helps when thinking about additional writing to add.
Writing More than One Sentence
Depending on your students’ ability level, some of them may be doing well just to get one sentence that makes sense. Kindergarten writing can have such a huge range. Others may have the capability to write more than one sentence. But they don’t. Here’s where another minilesson may come in. If you notice that a few or even one of your students can quickly whip up a sentence with correct spacing, punctuation, inventive spelling, and capitalization, but stops after one sentence – they are in need of a writing minilesson. If it’s just one student, pull just that student. However, if you see multiple students that have potential and see how it can benefit the entire class, do a short 5-10 lesson on writing more than one sentence.
Something that you can do in the lesson is to pull a sentence from the illustration. If your students do their pictures first and then write, this will come in handy. However, if your students are instructed to write their sentences first, try to turn them into a story. For example, if the writing is about going to the store ask some questions before you start writing the sentence. “How did you get there? Who went with you? What did you do when you got there? Did you buy anything? What did you see?” These types of questions help guide them into writing more. This is a minilesson that may need to be done more than once for it to stick.
Choosing Kindergarten Writing Topics for Minilessons
There are many more lessons that you can focus on for kindergarten writing, but the easiest way to know what you should be teaching is to just sit and observe what your students are writing. Look for patterns in their writing. Look to see if multiple students are doing the same things. Make your minilessons to the point and do not drag them out. They’re supposed to be very short. This way, your students have time for what’s important. Interested in more about writing? One of my favorites is creating independent writers in kindergarten. Check out this post.
You can find the Read Write Illustrate sets here and the Writing Center Journal here.