In Kindergarten there are many different teaching techniques and strategies when it comes to the writing process. There are also many differing views on how writing should be taught (and whether or not it should be taught!). For our purposes, we write almost daily in our journals in our class in what I term 'focused journal writing.
In the beginning of the school year the children start off by copying a sentence and corresponding illustration. As the year progresses, they copy the sentence but the illustration is their own. Towards the end of the year, both sentence(s) and illustration are all independently constructed.
There are several important 'components' within each journal writing. The date is written at the top of the page (although at the beginning of the school year a date stamp is used). The picture should contain a setting if a setting is possible for the sentence.
At this time of the year, each page of the journal should begin looking like this:
where the first name is clearly written along the left-hand side and the date is written along the right-hand side in the format shown. If possible, children should begin to write their first and last names.
The sentence would then begin directly under the name, like this:
Using Thinking Maps helps children to organize their thoughts prior to writing sentences. We will be using Circle Maps and Tree Maps to help write sentences. Some samples have been included on the website. For home practice, generating Thinking Maps will be helpful as children are familiar with this type of graphic organizer. They can also utilize their High Frequency Word flash cards or any other 'room' clues that are beneficial to them.
Regular writing opportunities demonstrates the importance and power of words. It also shows that words have meaning. Using journal writing paper, which is paper with space at the top for an illustration, incorporates the addition of a visual cue.
Kindergartners should also illustrate their sentences/work. Their illustrations are much like those found in picture books: they also help to 'tell the story.'
Regular focused journal writing can help children encourage and develops their spelling and creativity. If done at home, perhaps making a special binder of their work will show just how special the writing is!