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Language Arts | Writing 


New Member
I am teaching first grade this year! Yae Me! I would like to know how do you awesome teachers introduce writing to first graders! I have done a couple of things to get them to realize that a letter is not a sentence. Based on the skills they have presented, Im quite sure they have never been introduced to writing sentences. Today I went over what a sentence is, what it looks like..capital letter at beginning...punctuation mark at the end...finger space. I also used bear counters to help them count the words in a sentence. So far, they have made a slight improvement. Any suggestions as to what I can do to get my first graders writing!!!!


Full Member
I would start with just one skill at a time. I usually start with focusing on finger spaces between words first, then move on to capitals and then puncuation. You may want to do writing in small groups since everyone will be at a different level.
I like using Lucy Calkins writers workshop and adding the six traits.


Senior Member
I read an excellent book about writing workshops in the primary classroom over the summer, called No More! I'm Done (the book was at PT recommendation and I loved the title bc so many of my first graders said that to me last year...lol...or the ever-popular "Is this enough?")

I am very excited to implement a writers' workshop this year. One of the main points of the book is that kids (and adults!) are more motivated to write when they choose the topic. Of course as a class we will have to brainstorm a list of ideas for those kids who will inevitably be stuck to think of something.

The author also really recommended what the previous poster said...focus on one writing skill or trait at a time as it can be too overwhelming for small children to be faced with many things to change. The author does a daily message with the class and uses that time to focus on conventions such as spacing, punctuation etc and uses her conference times to focus on the other traits.

I think the main thing I want to convey to my grade ones this year is that people write to share their ideas and the stories about their life/or stories in their imaginations. We will have many mini lessons on this so they understand that what they have to say is interesting and others want to hear it! The author also recommends an Author's Chair which motivates kids to share their work with others.

I am really looking forward to writing this year! I hope it goes great for you too!


Senior Member

I recommend First Grade Writers: Units of Study to Help Children Plan, Organize, and Structure Their Ideas by Stephanie Parsons and Katie Wood Ray. Units of Study by Lucy Calkins is excellent, but is very expensive ($170+).

First Graders (should) learn to write in a developmental way. They start with drawing pictures and labeling them, then gradually develop sentences. Having them write sentences right away is not developmentally appropriate if they have never done any previous writing. At the most have them fill in a cloze (starter sentence). For example, "I like ________" or "I have a _______."

You can model writing sentences in your morning message. Short sentences like "Eric has a new baby brother," and "Today we can go to the playground." While you write each word, emphasize the phonemes and do "think-alouds" to show them your thinking as you write each word.

Another time you can show the finger spaces in between, or a capital letter at the beginning and a period at the end. Don't try to teach them all the skills at once.

Btw, counting the words in a sentence or counting the sounds in a word could be a daily oral exercise (phonemic awareness), something they should have learned in K, but you should also teach. Clap for each phoneme (sound) in the word, or each word in a sentence.

The kids need a lot of visuals to help them with the writing. A teacher & student-made chart with pictures and words is very useful. If you want to write about the playground, draw pictures of the different equipment and label them with the words. Another chart for colors, etc. Do this together with the students so they know where to find the words they want.

There is so much that goes into First Grade writing that you really need to read the book.

Mrs. T.

Senior Member
I am teaching 1st grade this year...but last year in kindergarten I used kidwriting. I will use writer's workshop this year. One thing I did with my kindergarteners..and will continue to use is a stop sign. My kids really caught on to this.
1. Did they start their sentence correctly? (color capital green)
2. Did they stop their sentence correctly? (color punctuation red)
3. Did they use popcorn words? (butter'em with yellow)

I don't call my word wall words popcorn words but they caught on to that quick. I had each student draw a picture. I pasted them on chart paper pages...then once a day the students came up and wrote a sentence about their picture. Then as a class we would do the stop sign routine coloring the capital, punc. and words.


Full Member
Great idea Mrs. T

Getting students to start their sentences with capital letters and end with punctuation has been one of the most difficult skills to teach. Your idea is wonderful. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!


New Member
Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions. I am definitely going to try the stop light method tomorrow and I will look for the books as well! :)