For me, building stamina in my writing comes from an exciting topic. Last week, in Western Washington, we had the snow storm of all snow storms. We were out of school for a week due to the snow and road conditions! Teachers across the state were rejoicing, not because of having to extend the school year and make these days up in the summer, but because a snowy experience helps us think like writers.
We talked about how challenging it is to draw snowy scenes on white paper. Everything is white, so how do we show our pictures? Most kids chose to do pencil drawings and add their color through mittens, hats, and snow clothes. We used the book Owl Moon as a mentor text and a model for illustrations. This book uses very simple line drawing and adds the color only where it is needed. The example above shows nice spacing and excellent use of sight words in this book about our snowy week. (By the way, this little girl told me, “I’m a writer at home now too! I write so many stories and I’m getting really good at it!”)
Below is an example of typical kindergarten writing for this time of the school year. I notice a pretty big difference in the ability level and confidence in full day kindergarten students and half day students. The amount of time spent writing every day, really makes a difference, which is why I always encourage parents to have writing materials ready to go at their houses.
The next page was written with adult support. Many of my students are still writing in all capitals. This is a hard habit to break, in kindergarten.
Below, is another great example of a typical kindergarten writer in January, of half time kindergarten. This little boy didn’t want to write a simple sentence like. “I like snow.” He wanted to tell a story. He wrote, “Our power went out. It came back on.” You’ll see that he was able to figure out beginning and ending sounds for many of the words.
It is really interesting to see the different developmental levels in children as writers. Some children come to kindergarten with no writing experience at all. Others have been drawing pictures and attempting to write words for a long time. Some kids enjoy the writing process and others find it challenging and can’t wait for snack time.
Building stamina for writing is a tough thing in kindergarten. We write every day. As we write, we are learning to be perfectly content to sit. Work. Write. Illustrate. We encourage kids to take chances and try things without an adult sitting next to them. We encourage kids to move back and forth between pictures and words. Sit. Work. Write. Illustrate. We encourage kids to enjoy the process and learn from their friends and published authors.
Writing is a tough job. Nobody said it was easy. Creative work is never easy.