Kindergarten writing prompts are a great way to show progress throughout the year. It always amazes me how much growth they have from August until May! Teaching kindergarten writing involves much more than just making sure they can write their letters, though that is important. It also involves things like adding details to pictures and eventually using proper spacing and punctuation. When used monthly, kindergarten writing prompts are a great visual representation of just how much they grow and can be a treasured keepsake for parents.
Random…but have you ever lost a bit of weight? If you have, you know how hard it can be for YOU to see the changes. You keep doing the work, and hopefully, little by little, the scale budges. Finally, one day you put on that pair of jeans that were too tight, and though they may not slip right over your hips, maybe you don't have to lay down to zip them up! 😉
Believe it or not…teaching kindergarten is a lot like this. We make little strides bit by bit, and by the time our kinders are ready to head to 1st grade, a LOT of change has taken place. The funny thing is, a lot of times, they may not think they've grown that much – UNTIL you show them where they started.
The range of skills is deep and wide in kindergarten. They are coming in from public and private prek programs, Mother's day out, Montessori, daycare, and more. Some kids can already write better than me, and some aren't quite sure how to hold a pencil.
That's just life in kindergarten.
No matter where the starting place is – the goal is to grow. I think one of the most important things you can do on those first days together is to have them write their name and date it.
Things to notice:
- Their pencil grip
- Do they write in all caps?
- Can they write all the letters in their first name from memory?
- Do they know any letters in their last name? (can they tell you their last name?)
Be sure you check in with them at the end of each quarter and have them write their name again. I like to cover up what they've written previously so they aren't influenced.
At the end of the year, once they've written their name the final time, I ask them if they are ready to see the way they wrote their name way back when they were brand new baby kinders. When I reveal it – they cackle, throw their hand over their mouth, gasp, and giggle. Some truly don't believe THEY wrote it!
Below is a sample taken from a data notebook, used with permission from the parent:
Kindergarten writing involves a lot more than just handwriting or the formation of letters and words. Part of what we pay attention to is the child's ability to include illustrations with details. Now, this doesn't mean we are looking for the best artists.
Well, what DOES it mean?
If I read a story to them, then ask them to draw or write about their favorite part, most won't yet have the ability to string words together. You could see the following:
- A very sparse drawing, maybe not having anything to do with the story you read
- Drawings that are basic, but you could maybe see some correct detail from the story (i.e., if the girl had dark hair and a yellow dress – you would see this instead of a stick figure with no hair or clothes)
- Along with an illustration, you may see letters they know, or if they know a few sight words, they may write them. It's common to see something like “cansEEino” – which means they are familiar with can, see, I, and no, but don't yet understand how to use them.
This is all perfectly normal. Once again, you are getting 5-year-olds from a multitude of differing backgrounds.
Kindergarten Writing Prompts
Our kindergarten team uses kindergarten writing prompts to help us not only show growth but to end up with a sweet keepsake to share with parents at the end of the year.
In August, we use a simple prompt about how they felt on the first day of kindergarten. Before we give this to them, we give a mini-lesson about “4* coloring”. We encourage them to be sure their picture matches what they have written, to use the space given, and to add detail.
We also talk about all the different emotions they may have felt. I let them come to me one at a time and tell me how they felt. Then, I will write it for them on a sticky note and show them where to write it. This in and of itself is quite telling. Though I have given them the word, some have a hard time writing on the line, and some write the letters backward or leave letters out.
Gradually, month by month, I will release them to do 100% independent work.
The samples you see below are so incredible to me. In the May kindergarten writing prompts, you will see the child's use of finger spaces, the correct spelling of sight words, and sounding out words. The details in the pictures are also really great!
*All picture samples were used with parent's permission
5-Year-Olds and Self-portraits
In addition to kindergarten writing prompts, I LOVE to have my kindergarteners do a self-portrait at the start of each month. I encourage them to use their hair, eye, and skin color and pay attention to what makes them unique. It's always so funny to have them running up to the mirror with their eyes wide open to see what color they are!
It's also quite obvious which kids have already taken to coloring and drawing! I honestly love them ALL. I have an area in my room where I keep them hanging all year – and switch them out from month to month. We also make a little keepsake book of these to go home at the end of the year.
Look at these samples below – there's such growth no matter where they started!
*All samples used with parent permission
Click here if you want to grab these adorable self-portrait templates for yourself! My friend Miranda makes the CUTEST things!
We decided to upgrade our own monthly writing templates – and if you want to snag a copy, send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd be happy to send them to you as we update them each month!