First of all, if you are homeschooling and will be teaching writing I encourage you to read the article, All Children Can Write by Donald Graves. It is a fantastic article about how writing is about communication and that’s where teachers go wrong when they’re teaching writing. The article talks about students with disabilities, but it’s a good article about how to teach writing. Some of what he talks about is focusing on teaching the child to communicate and then worry about spelling, grammar, and punctuation at the end.
Josiah within the past few months has started to learn how to read. Since pre-k he’s been learning how to write. This started with learning how to draw lines, dashes, squiggles, and then letters. Now that he’s figuring out those letters make words that have meaning we’ve been working on types of writing.
The new common core standards (we are in Arkansas) state that Kindergarteners should be able to:
- Identify characters, setting, and major events in stories
- Recognize common types of text (storybooks, poems, etc)
- Identify main topic and retell key details of text
- Write to narrate a single event, telling order and reaction
- Explore tools to produce and publish writing
- Complete shared research and writing projects
Before you start to wonder if I’ve accidentally listed a different grade level I assure you, this is Kindergarten level requirements. As I’ve said before, I’m a writer. I have a degree in writing and I am a big advocate of writing. I 100% believe that children in Kindergarten can accomplish all of the objectives above. Josiah, who will be 5 in two weeks, has been working on most of these objectives for a few weeks.
Forget the fact that he can’t read words that have more than three or four letters. Forget the fact that sentences are still a slight mystery to him (we’ve just started working on what makes a sentence). Forget the fact that you think some of the terms are over his head — Kindergarteners CAN write stories. Well, at least they can verbalize them.
Josiah has a writing journal for Language and Science. The Science journal is filled with illustrations and charts and writing associated with what he has learned in Science. His Language journal is starting to fill up with the parts of writing and stories that he is making in Language. A few weeks ago we did a unit on fictional story writing.
I don’t like to focus heavily on worksheets, but I used worksheets from the worksheet packet, Stupendous Story Elements, on Teacherspayteachers.com. It is free to be a member and many of the materials on there are free. Some of them you have to pay for, but everything I’ll share with you will be free. Now the story elements packet can be used for students K-4th grade — modifications obviously need to be made according to your student.
Basically I started with explaining what a story is. We picked one book which we used for the entire unit. We chose, “No more Monsters for Me.” I illustrated to Josiah that a story is like a hill — it has a beginning, middle, and end. Also that a story has a purpose or main idea. Then we did a worksheet about main idea of the story we read, I don’t have a copy of that because I got it out of a workbook, but anything to reinforce what a main idea is will work. Then Josiah drew a picture in his journal about what the main idea of the story we read was.
The next lesson was about explaining setting. He explained the setting of the story after we read it again and then he had to come up with a setting for his own story. Since he is in Kindergarten I helped him when he needed it. For a slightly older student showing them how to brainstorm would be good here.
Lesson three we talked about the characters in a book. Then we did a worksheet where we talked about the different characteristics of the characters in the book. Then I had him create a main character.
Lesson four we reviewed what a character was and then he made a secondary character. Then he drew what both characters looked like.
Lesson five we talked about the fact that stories have problems and solutions. Then he created a problem and a solution for his story.
Lesson six we reviewed all that we had learned and reviewed the parts of his story and then he
wrote dictated his story to me and illustrated it.
His story was about two T-rexes that got caught in a net while smashing stuff. The story was about their great escape and journey of trying to get back home. For his first story, it really wasn’t that bad.
Children are natural story tellers. If we start young and encourage them to tell stories and teach them the methods of writing along the way we wouldn’t have so many high school students struggling to write essays and basic creative stories.
Here is a .pdf copy of my lesson plans: Story writing.