08 Writers write to share ideas.


Writers write to share ideas.

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Young children see the people around them writing notes, lists, emails, texts, and so on. By watching, they learn that this is how people share information or send messages. Naturally, children will imitate these writing behaviors when they want to send their own messages. They may scribble, copy words, write names, and draw pictures. Gradually, through working and playing with words and acquiring phonemic awareness, they grow into more conventional writers.

About the Picture The children in the picture are demonstrating and celebrating different forms of written work. These children know they are writers!

Major Concepts

  • Emergent writers use a variety of techniques to write meaningful messages.
  • Young learners become independent writers as they work and play with words and acquire phonemic awareness.

Daily Lesson Planning

Special Note: Encourage all kinds of writing in kindergarten. Let children know they can spell phonetically (writing letters for the sounds they hear), copy words from around the room, or ask someone for help. (For children doing scribbles or strings of letters, you should sometimes transcribe their messages into conventional print somewhere on the page to help them recall what they wanted to say.)

Day 1

  1. Explore "Writers write to share ideas" to identify different forms of writing that the children in the picture have been involved in. Ask the students to show how they write their words. Have them demonstrate on the board.
  2. Do some interactive writing using classroom news, current units, seasonal subjects, or other topics of interest. (Save some of the writings, and revisit them later to make simple changes or additions.)
  3. Implement "Writers write to share ideas" (BB 10). If you wish, copy children’s addresses onto scrap paper for the children to copy onto their drawings.

Days 2-6

Choose from the following activities:

  • Implement “Writers write words” (BB 11).
  • As children read books and find words they are interested in, encourage them to write the words in their Buddy Books or personal word dictionaries.
  • Encourage writing during choice time by having paper, pencils, and markers available in the dramatic-play, art, math, and block/building areas.
  • Have children write word lists by remembering words they know by heart or copying words. Then have them copy some of these words onto word cards. The word cards can be used for building sentences and word sorts. Implement "Word Cards" for this activity.
  • To encourage longer pieces of writing, invite other adults to act as writing partners with students. The adults can help children with words or act as scribes—when appropriate.
  • Invite children to draw and write stories about their lives. Implement "My Own Story" for children who like to write on lines.

Concluding Days

  1. Have children share something they have written.
  2. Check students’ progress on personal word dictionaries.
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English Language Arts:

Background Information on Early Writing

Using Context/Meaning

Emergent writers often learn words just by looking around at familiar, everyday things such as cereal boxes, soup cans, signs, and favorite books. Beyond these contexts, they begin to gather information about the words. For example, they find that the word soup begins with the letter s and ends with the letter p—letters they know by their sounds. They may begin to write words, using initial and final consonants—/sp/ for soup, /hp/ for hope, and so on.

Phonemic Awareness

To write independently, children need to know the sounds associated with the letters. This means that young writers must become conscious of the sounds (phonemes) that speakers and listeners naturally use. They must learn to write them as letters (graphemes). This knowledge then opens the door to writing words their own way. Phonemic awareness should be taught in contexts involving the children’s own language and experiences. (See see "Stages of Emergent Writing" for more information.)

Letter, Word, Sentence Distinction

Emerging writers (and readers) need to learn the differences between letters, words, and sentences. When teachers write with the children, they should talk about these distinctions, helping the children to identify letters, words, and sentences. You can also ask children to find specific letters or words (or an entire sentence) by framing them with two fingers or two straws.


Legible handwriting is an important goal for all writers. Children should be taught, within the context of daily writing activities, how to form letters properly, use consistent letter size and slant, write from left to right, and leave spaces between words. Gradually, they can learn about the use of uppercase and lowercase letters, especially in names.


As children grow in their writing abilities, they can be introduced to the use of punctuation, especially end punctuation marks.

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English Language Arts:

Kinds of Early Writing

Emergent writers discover many ways to send written messages. The types of writing described on this page represent different kinds of writing evident in a kindergarten classroom. (For samples see "Stages of Emergent Writing.")

Drawing and Writing

It is natural for some emergent writers to use art, along with one or two words, to convey meaning. When they do this, the art carries most of the meaning.

Drawing and Imitative Writing

The child writes a message with scribbling that imitates “grown-up” writing. It shows individuality and an attempt to
communicate with others.

Copying Words

The child copies words from handy resources like books, posters, and word walls. The writing makes sense and shows knowledge of letter formation and the concept of words.

Drawing and Strings of Letters

The child writes with random letters to convey a message. The letters are formed well, but have no relationship to sounds. The writer is aware that print and art convey meaning.

Early Phonetic Writing

The child writes words using letters (mostly consonants) to represent words and sounds. The writing shows individuality, focuses on a topic, and makes sense.

Phonetic Writing

The child writes words using letters to represent each sound that is heard. The words make sense and may be used for writing longer texts.

Conventional/Some Phonetic Writing

The child focuses on a topic and uses close-to-correct copy. The writing demonstrates an emerging voice.

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