Daily Writing Practice Book
This idea came from another kindergarten teacher, Laura Lang, on my team at Cranberry Elementary School. I went to her for some ideas on practicing writing with my students and I found this idea SO helpful!
For this activity, the children will be practicing these very important skills:
- Sounding out and writing short vowel words
- Writing a sentence using capitalization, spacing, and punctuation
- Using references to find information
- Writing sight words
This sounds like a lot and it is! But this idea really works as long as you begin it when your children are ready and provide them with a strong foundation by using very direct and guided instruction in the beginning. Most of your children should know most letter sounds and a few sight words before starting this activity with the whole group. You may also use this with small groups as a guided writing activity.
To prepare for this activity, each child will need a practice book with enough practice spaces to complete one a day for a month (approx. 11 pages). After a month, I collect the books and send them home with the students so parents can see their progress. You can choose whether you want your books to last for a week, a month, etc. by using the desired amount of practice pages (each practice page has space for two entries).
To download a printable practice book, click on the links below:
Part One - Elkonin Boxes
The boxes on the top of each practice page are used as Elkonin boxes. Elkonin boxes are just a simple set of drawn boxes. They are used to help students hear separate sounds in words and to help them use those sounds and record them with letters. Choose a word that you would like your children to write. In my classroom, we concentrate on one word family or phonogram per week and I choose a word from that family. For example, if we are studying the -at word family, our words during the week would be: cat, bat, hat, mat, and rat. Here are the procedures for using the boxes:
- Tell the students to write one sound in each box for a word you would like them to spell. At first, these words should only be CVC words with sounds that your class has already studied.
- Say the word as many times as the children need. I stretch it out for them and ask them to write only one sound in each box.
- When the students are finished, I ask for a student to tell me which letters they used for the sounds in each box. I record the answer correctly on the board.
Here is an example of what directions for Elkonin boxes would sound like in dialogue:
- Teacher - "Boys and girls, please turn to an empty space in your writing practice book. Hold your pencils in the air, so I know you are on a new page and ready to write. Our word today is from the -at family. We know that words from this family will always end with what two letters?"
- Student - "a and t"
- Teacher - "That's right! Today's word will end with 'a' and 't' because it is from the -at family. Now we are ready to write our word of the day. Put your pencil in the first box and remember to write only one sound in each box. Today's word is the word 'cat'. Here is a sentence with the word 'cat', 'My cat likes to purr'. Write the word cat, c-a-t. (Repeat and stretch out the word as many times as your children need. Continue to ask who needs more time).
Here is a picture of what our daily practice pages look like through the school year:
Part Two - Sight Word Sentence
On the lines following the Elkonin boxes, we write our sentence of the day. Our sentence of the day follows the same or a similar sentence pattern all week. For example, our sentence pattern might be "I see a ___.". Our sentence of the day will also have our word of the day (from our Elkonin boxes). So, if our word family is -at and our sentence pattern is "I see a ___." then our sentences this week might look like this:
- I see a cat.
- I see a bat.
- I see a hat.
- I see a mat.
- I see a rat.
The sentence should include sight words that have already been studied. The children should be constantly reminded to use the word wall or other resources to write their sentence. This teaches the children to use resources around them to find answers. Some children write by memory, but other children need to use the word wall. After your children are finished with the sentence, we write it together on the board.
Here is an example of what directions for the Sight Word sentence might sound like in dialogue:
- Teacher - "Now we are ready to write our sentence of the day. Today's sentence has sight words in it that we have already studied. Where can we find sight words in our classroom?"
- Student - "On the word wall" or "In our writing folders" (wherever you display them)
- Teacher - "That's right. So, if you get stuck on a word, remember you can always look at the word wall to find the word you are looking for. When we are writing a sentence, what kind of letter do we start our first word with?"
- Student - "An uppercase letter."
- Teacher - "Good thinking! What should be between all of the words in our sentence?"
- Student - "Spaces."
- Teacher - "You are right. Why do we put spaces between our words?"
- Student - "To make our sentence easier to read" (or other response)
- Teacher - "That's right. Today's sentence is going to be a 'telling' a sentence. What do we put at the end of a 'telling' sentence to show the reader we are finished?"
- Student - "A period."
- Teacher - "Good thinking! I think we are ready for our sentence. Everyone get your pencils ready. Today's sentence is 'See the cat.'. (Repeat the sentence as many times as your children need).