My Early Elementary Writer's Favorite Tools (Alongside a Mom Q&A Session)
Updated: Sep 16, 2019
I'm going to approach this post as a Q&A session while giving the tools of my writer's (homeschool and tutoring students) favorite writing tools. These questions were asked by moms who needed help with their students writing and each of these products were successfully used to inspire early readers to write what they were learning!
Should students learn to write while learning to read? Yes! Writing is proven to boost memory, therefore anyone under my tutelage must write their sight words every time they learn a new set of five. They write the words and then I use the word in a sentence. These are my early writer's favorite tools for writing their sight words:
Magnetic Dry Erase Markers (They get to write them on the refrigerator! Another big hit!)
When the day is nice, we go outside and write them on the sidewalk with glittery sidewalk chalk. We add to this by creating a hopscotch game!
Roll-a-Dice Write the Word Game was also a favorite activity because it included rolling dice and writing as silly as we could. (Also, this is my version of this game, AND it's FREE!)
How can I help my child learn to write? How can I help my child write better?
I'll approach this question like this: begin with a foundation of solid sentence structure rules (i.e. sentence structure, parts of speech, plural forms, proper nouns). As we learned the rules we would label (or diagram) a sentence, correct a bad sentence, and then write our own. I recommend the primary ruled notebooks. Look how many great options your writers will have to choose from!
You also need to work on expanding their vocabulary by reading lots of books, learning dictionary skills (synonyms, antonyms), and having a word wall where you display words they are learning and the work they accomplished to help them learn that word. Get Noah Webster & His Words by Jeri Chase Ferris for a book to introduce your reader to dictionary skills, it's super cute and informative!
Vocabulary and grammar are the first (and best) places to start with beginning writers.
Do I need to instill capitalization and punctuation rules in my young readers writing? There are varying arguments on this one. I'm taking it from the classical education approach where little people are parrots who repeat everything we say, which I believe to be accurate. It is in their early years where their little brain acts like a sponge, soaking up everything they possibly can about the world around them. Here's the truth about our world: it is full of rules. Our language has basic rules to follow and it is only in knowing these rules can an author ingeniously break them. So first teach them that every sentence has a subject and that noun (person, place, thing or idea) always does something (predicate/verb). Every good sentence begins with a capital and ends with a mark. It is by following these rules that the sentence will make sense. As those skills are mastered, then add adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, articles, etc. to their part of speech toolbox. That was a long answer to a simple, YES. Teach it early and then use a rubric to guide their writing as they learn what makes a sentence and a paragraph complete so they know the criteria expected in good writing.
When do I break down parts of speech and how?
I began the process as soon as my little learner mastered phonics and fluency. Once the rules of the letter sounds and fluency were second nature we began honing in on specific literacy skills.
I used the book Phonics Pathways as our guide, doing supplementary activities as they were needed (she struggled grasping the -ng sound, for example). Here are some I used on TeachersPayTeachers:
I used the Psalm Fluency Notebook to establish fluency as she read through the Psalms. And now I'm using the Shurley English Jingles (on YouTube) to remember grammar rules and apply them to correcting sentences, labeling sentences (we created symbols to go with each part of speech - rectangle to go with an adjective, underline the noun, squiggly line for the verb, etc.), and then writing the sentence.
These are some of my favorite tools to establish early writing and I hope it was helpful for you. If you wish to talk to me about this further, please do not hesitate to contact me!
My Professional Development Resources that I've enjoyed reading (many I referenced in my Facebook LIVE event to encourage moms who encourage their writers):
If you are interested in hiring me as your student's ELA Teacher or Writing Tutor in the home, I approach the learning process like a flipped classroom - where the "homework" is learning the strategies through video lessons and books on their on time, and then we work on writing together making the process personalized to their specific and unique needs. If this interests you, please contact me. Personalized literacy is my passion.
If you are interested in hiring me as your educational consultant who journey's alongside you through this educational process, contact me! I'd LOVE to meet with you and assist you with any curriculum and instructional needs.
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