Writing Resources for K-5

Learn more about how you can support your child at home.

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What does reading look like at each grade level?

Early writing progresses through several stages.  See below for an overview of the stages of writing.

Below are videos of what success looks like by the end of each school year (scroll down to the writing section at the bottom of the webpage):

What type of writing does my child do throughout the year?

Students in Grades K-5 participate in four writing units throughout the year- Creating a Community of Writers, Narrative, Information, and Opinion.  See the unit overview below that outlines the name of each unit and its curricular goals and objectives.  

What is Writers’ Workshop?

Writers’ Workshop is an instructional model that focuses on the individual needs of all writers. Teachers provide direct instruction on the writing process, writing structure, development and elaboration, and mechanics.

Each session starts with a minilesson which typically lasts between 10-15 minutes and focuses on the writing process, conventions, and/or craft based on the needs of the class.  

Students then begin to work on assigned or self-selected writing pieces. Depending on the age of the students and the time of year, students should be independently writing for 15-45 minutes.  As the year progresses and student stamina builds, this independent writing time will increase. During this time, teachers are conferring with students either individually or in small groups.  

Teachers may wrap up the workshop with time for sharing. Sharing time, which lasts between 5-10 minutes, offers students the chance to celebrate their writing completed during the independent writing time, and reflect on their efforts, most often in connection to the minilesson focus.

With this model there is less teacher talk and more student writing time. The workshop model also allows for more flexibility and choice for both teachers AND students. There are opportunities for collaboration between peers and between the teacher and his or her students.   

Resource: videos of Writers’ Workshop in action

My child wants to create a digital book or comic. Are there apps or websites available to help him/her?

The following websites and apps are excellent for creating digital books and comics:

How can I support my child’s oral language development?

Children learn language over time without formal instruction. Students learn to speak through practice, play, and social interaction with adults and peers.  

Here are 10 way to promote your child's oral language development:

  1. Sing-a-longs:  Sing songs with your child and encourage him to sing along with you.  Play his favorite songs and music in the house and car regularly and he may eventually start singing along by himself.  This activity helps promote memory and word identification.
     
  2. Identify Noises: Have your child identify noises that he hears throughout the day (i.e. a bird singing, a car horn, running water or the dishwasher).  He will begin to understand how sounds relate to objects in his everyday environment.
     
  3. Practice the Alphabet: Help your child identify letters by singing along to the “Alphabet Song,” reading books about the alphabet and playing with alphabet puzzles.  Here is an example of an easy game to help your child learn his letters:  Cut out individual squares that feature each letter of the alphabet written in bright colors.  Mix them up and tape them on various surfaces in the house.  Go through the alphabet with your child and encourage him to search around the house to find the next letter and tape it to the wall in order.  When finished, leave the alphabet letters in order up on the wall until you’re ready to play the game again.
     
  4.  Practice Counting:  Identify opportunities throughout the day to practice counting.  Count the number of shoes in your child’s closet when he gets dressed or the number of slides on the playground when you go to the park.  You may soon find that you’re counting everything!
     

  5. Practice Shapes and Colors:  Identify shapes and colors when interacting with your child.  You can say, “That is a round, blue ball,” when playing in the yard or “That sign is a red octagon” when pulling up to a stop sign.  As he gets older, you can ask him to describe objects to you.
     

  6. Offer Choices:  When you can, offer your child choices: “Would you like to wear the brown shorts or the blue shorts?” or “Would you like string cheese or yogurt with your lunch?”  This will help him to feel more independent and learn to make confident decisions that affect his day.
     

  7. Ask Questions:  Another way to help your child learn to think for himself is to ask him questions: “Which toy should we pick up first when we clean up the living room? Or “Why is it important to walk down the stairs slowly?”  Asking him questions helps him learn how to problem solve and better understand how his environment works.
     

  8. Visit Interesting Places:  Take trips to your local children’s museum, library or farmer’s market to stimulate his curiosity and provide him with “hand on” experiences.  Ask him questions while you explore and listen to his responses and reactions.  These adventures can provide a learning experience for both of you.
     

  9. Play with Everyday Items:  Playing with everyday household items is educational, fun and cost effective.  Encourage your child to match various-sized lids to their accompanying pots or have him look in a mirror and point to his nose, mouth, eyes, etc.
     

  10. Offer a Variety of Games:  Play a variety of games with your child to encourage problem solving and creativity.   If your child is younger, the two of you can build with blocks and play “Peek-a-Boo.”  As he gets older, you can engage him in board games, puzzles and play “Hide and Seek.”

Source: http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2014/06/09/10-ways-to-promote-your-childs-cognitive-development/

What are eBooks and where can I access one with my child?

eBooks are digital or electronic books. Some eBooks are simply the digital version of a printed book you can find at your local library. Other eBooks have special features that allow you to interact with the text. 

Websites to Visit to Access eBooks:

What apps/websites can my child use?

PreK-Grade 1 Websites/Apps:

PreK-Grade 2 Websites/Apps:

Grades 2-5 Websites/Apps:

What questions can I ask my child when I am helping him/her with writing?

Prompts to Help Kids Rehearse Their Writing:

  • How will your story/essay/article go?

  • Tell me about the parts.

  • How will it start?

  • Then what will come next?

  • How's it going?

  • How do you think you want to end?

  • What will be the most important moment in the piece?

  • What will be the tricky part?  Where might it get confusing?  Let me know when you are at that part and we can talk it out.

Questions About Purpose and Audience:

  • What do you want to write about? Why?

  • Who will want or need to read this?

  • What do you want your reader to know or do?

  • How will you present it to the reader?

Questions About Idea Development/Support:

  • Which of your details help the reader understand?  Are they the best details and examples for the reader and for your purpose?

  • What are the most important ideas in your story?  Have you explained them in detail?

  • What is the main idea(s)?  Do your examples focus on the main ideas?  Do your details make the ideas clearer?

Questions About Organization:

  • Did you stick to your plan throughout the piece of writing?  No?  Tell me about a part of your story that is different from your original plan.

  • Read your story aloud.  

    • Does the order of the ideas make sense?  

    • Find a part of the story where your information doesn't fit together?

    • Find a part that may be confusing for your reader.  Will your reader be able to follow all of your thinking?

    • Do your ideas lead the reader easily from one to another?

Questions About Sentences:

  • Look through your writing.  

    • Show me where you have sentences of different lengths? 

    • Show me places where you started your sentences with different beginnings? 

    • Do all of your sentences sound too much alike?

  • Do your sentences express complete thoughts?  Find a sentence you would like to change to make stronger.  

Questions About Wording:

  • Can you find a place in your writing where you could use a different word to make your meaning more clear?

  • Do the words say what you mean?

  • Do any of your words sound strange?  Can you fix any words that may not be used correctly?

Questions About Correctness:

  • Read through your writing and circle any words you think may be spelled incorrectly.

  • Tell me about two places where you revised your punctuation marks.  How do you know you used it correctly?

  • Read your piece aloud.  Highlight any places where you need to add punctuation.

  • Highlight the first word at the beginning of each sentence.  Are these words capitalized?  
  • Underline proper nouns (specific people, places, or things).  Make sure these words are capitalized.

What can I do at home to support my child in writing?

There are many things you can do to help your child become a better writer.  Click on the following link to learn how:  How to Help Your Child Become a Better Writer at Home

Want to encourage your child to write at home?  Have your child start a daily journal.  If you are looking for something more structured, below are some writing prompts to get your child started:

What are some recommended narrative writing prompts?

  • Think of a real experience you have had that would be hard to forget. Think about what makes it so hard to forget. Tell what happened.
  • Think about your best holiday celebration ever. Write an essay to tell about this celebration and why it was your favorite.
  • Remember the best school assembly ever. Write an essay telling what happened, how the audience responded, and why the assembly was important.
  • You won a school contest that allowed you to be teacher-for-a-day. Write about your experience as teacher-for-a-day.
  • You and your family went on a camping trip during the weekend. A friend of yours, who has never been camping, wants to know what it was like. Write a letter to your friend telling about one evening of your weekend camping trip.
  • Pretend your favorite book character or comic book character came to life for a day. Write a story for your classmates about the character that came to life for a day.
  • We all have memories connected to our experiences. Think about an experience you feel you'll always remember. Try to picture the time, the place, and the people involved. Try to remember everything you can about this experience. Write about the experience you remember. Be sure to include enough details so that your reader can share your experience. Show why this memory stands out for you.
  • Choose something for show & tell, but rather than bringing your object to class, your job is to write a short story or poem that shows us the object and tells us why it's important to you. You'll need to use lots of details to demonstrate the significance of the object -- use your words to create images that show readers the object and why it is important to you.
  • Write about a time you experienced or learned something for the first time. It could be when you first rode a bike or learned a new game. It could have been your first day of school, your first train or plane ride, or your first trip to an amusement park. First experiences are special for some reason. They may be funny, scary, or exciting.
  • Write about a time when you were surprised. It could have been a birthday party or when you got something you had not expected. It could be when you planned something and it did not turn out the way you thought it would. It could have been when someone came for a surprise visit. Surprises can be funny, scary, or exciting.
  • Write about a time when you did something that made you feel good. It could be when you helped a team, sang, or played music for others. It could be a time when you were nice or did a special favor for someone. It could be when you did something you had never done before. The important thing is that you felt good about what you did.
  • Choose a vivid time from your childhood. Narrate the events related to the childhood memory that you've chosen so that your readers will understand why the event was important and memorable.
  • Teaching someone else how to do something can be rewarding. Think of a skill that you've taught someone else how to do. Think about the events that made up the process of teaching the skill, and narrate the story for your readers.
  • Choose a time when you did something that took a lot of nerve, a time when you didn't follow the crowd or a time when you stood up for your beliefs. Think about the details of the event and write a story that tells about what happened. Your narrative should show your readers why you decided to make a stand or try something that took nerve, give specifics on the events, and share how you felt after the event.
  • Think about either your first or last day of school. Write a story to a friend telling about that day. Be sure to describe the atmosphere and tell what impressed you most about your experience.
  • Tell a friend about an experience that you had involving an animal. It might be an experience with your pet, someone else's pet, or even a wild animal. Be sure to tell the story in a way that shows why this experience was memorable to you.
  • Tell about a time when you were embarrassed.
  • Think of a friend you have, in or out of school. Tell one story that comes to mind when you think of this friend.
  • Retell a fairy tale from the villain's point of view.
  • Choose one of your favorite authors. Write a letter telling why you like his/her work.
  • Think about something that happened at school that you will remember for a long time. Tell what happened.
  • Pretend that you have superhuman powers. Think about all the different types of superpowers that you would have. Explain to the reader of your paper about your superhuman powers and how you use them.
  • All children have fun with their friends. Think about a friend you have. This friend might be a classmate, neighbor, family member or pet. Think about something fun you have done together. Now tell about a time you had fun with your friend.
  • We have all taken trips, even if it is to the library or grocery store. Think about a trip you have taken. Where did you go? Why did you go there? What was it like? Write about a trip you have taken.
  • We have all had happy things happen to us that we will never forget, like getting a good grade, being picked for a team or winning an award. Think about some unforgettable thing that has happened to you. What happened? How did you feel? Tell about this memorable experience so that your reader can picture it in his or her mind.
  • If you could have any job/career you wanted, what would it be? Why?
  • What is the best place to go for vacation? Why?
  • Is there a special object or family tradition that is important to everyone in your family? For example, do you have an heirloom that has been handed down through generations, a quilt your grandmother made, or a special way of celebrating birthdays? For a younger relative - perhaps even for someone who hasn't been born yet - describe this family treasure or tradition in as much detail as you can.
  • A noise outside awakens you one night. You look out the window and see a spaceship. The door of the spaceship opens, and out walks a space creature. What does the creature look like? What do you do? Write a story about what happens next.
  • Write a story about a ride in a hot air balloon.
     

Information Writing Prompts

  • Write about something you know a lot about.
  • If you could make changes in your school lunchroom what would they be?
  • Most people like one particular animal more than others. What is your favorite animal? Why is it your favorite?
  • Rules are important. What are the most important rules at your school and why are they important?
  • If you could choose any animal for a class pet, what would you choose and why?
  • Explain why it is important to learn to read.
  • If you could change places with another person for a whole day, who would you change places with and why would you choose that person?
  • We are learning all the time. Some of our learning takes place in school and some outside of school. Write about something you have learned recently and how it has affected you.
  • Think of the ideal job for you when you grow up. Now think of reasons why this would be a good job for you. Write an essay to explain why this is your ideal job.
  • Think of a book that you have read and really enjoyed. Write an essay explaining why you really enjoyed that book.
  • Imagine that time travel to the past was possible. Think of where and when you would like to go for a visit. Write an essay telling where and when you would go in the past and explain why you choose to go there.
  • Your cousin is moving to your town. Write a letter explaining why your town is such a wonderful place to live.
  • Imagine that you had no TV, computer, or video games for one week. Think of some activities that you can do instead to keep you busy and out of trouble. Write an essay to explain what you can do to keep occupied in a week of no TV, computer, or video games.
  • We all have a place where we can imagine or go where we want to be alone and relax. Think of your favorite place. Now write an essay explaining why this place is your favorite.
  • Think about your favorite year of school. Explain why it was your favorite year.
  • Friends are important, but everyone has a different opinion of what makes a good friend. Explain what, in your opinion makes a good friend.
  • Some teachers are special. Explain why one particular teacher in your life was so special.
  • Most people have a favorite toy. Think about your favorite toy and why it is your favorite. Now write 3 - 5 paragraphs to tell about your favorite toy and explain why you like it.
  • The gym teacher has just announced that field day will be at the end of the month. Write 3 -  5 paragraphs to describe the events that take place at field day to a new student at your school.
  • Each child has a special position in their family. Explain the advantages and disadvantages of the position you hold in your family--youngest child, only child, middle child etc.
  • Choose something you know about (a place you have visited, something you saw while traveling, something you have studied in school, a hobby you wish to share). Write a letter to your pen pal in another country telling about your topic.
  • You are the class president and have been asked to write an introduction for a person you admire greatly. Write an essay describing the most admirable qualities of the person.
  • Think of some things you learned outside of school. For example, you learn from pet care, television, or grandparents. Explain what you learned.
  • If you could visit anywhere on Earth, where would it be and why would you want to visit there? What things would you do there? Write a letter to the judges of a travel agency contest for a free vacation trip.
  • If you had the opportunity to meet any person (living or dead) who would it be, why would you choose that person, and what would you want to say when you met?
  • You have been asked to write an essay about a day in the life of a fourth grader to be placed in a time capsule that will be buried this year and opened in 2500.
  • Write an essay about the differences between two different types of insects. Give examples of how each type is adapted to its environment.
  • Write a letter to your (future) grandchildren. Choose any two major events occurring during your lifetime that you believe would be important enough to pass along to your grandchildren.
  • Write the directions for "how to" do something.
  • Choose a book or TV show that that you have enjoyed. You are to write an essay telling the reader why you enjoyed it.

Opinion Writing Prompts

Look at the statements below.  Write whether you agree or disagree with the statements. Make sure to support your ideas with specific details.

  • We should all grow our own vegetables.

  • Everyone should have to exercise every day.

  • Nobody should litter.

  • I should be allowed sweets every day.

  • I should be able to stay at home on my own.

  • I should be able to go to bed later.

  • I should be allowed a pet.

  • I should get a pocket money raise from my parents.

  • Children should be able to use cellphones in school.

  • The school day should be shorter.

  • There should be no homework.

  • School break times should be longer.

  • Pets should be allowed in school.

  • We should not have a school dress code.

  • Smoking should be banned for everyone.

What are some recommended information writing prompts?

  • Write about something you know a lot about.
  • If you could make changes in your school lunchroom what would they be?
  • Most people like one particular animal more than others. What is your favorite animal? Why is it your favorite?
  • Rules are important. What are the most important rules at your school and why are they important?
  • If you could choose any animal for a class pet, what would you choose and why?
  • Explain why it is important to learn to read.
  • If you could change places with another person for a whole day, who would you change places with and why would you choose that person?
  • We are learning all the time. Some of our learning takes place in school and some outside of school. Write about something you have learned recently and how it has affected you.
  • Think of the ideal job for you when you grow up. Now think of reasons why this would be a good job for you. Write an essay to explain why this is your ideal job.
  • Think of a book that you have read and really enjoyed. Write an essay explaining why you really enjoyed that book.
  • Imagine that time travel to the past was possible. Think of where and when you would like to go for a visit. Write an essay telling where and when you would go in the past and explain why you choose to go there.
  • Your cousin is moving to your town. Write a letter explaining why your town is such a wonderful place to live.
  • Imagine that you had no TV, computer, or video games for one week. Think of some activities that you can do instead to keep you busy and out of trouble. Write an essay to explain what you can do to keep occupied in a week of no TV, computer, or video games.
  • We all have a place where we can imagine or go where we want to be alone and relax. Think of your favorite place. Now write an essay explaining why this place is your favorite.
  • Think about your favorite year of school. Explain why it was your favorite year.
  • Friends are important, but everyone has a different opinion of what makes a good friend. Explain what, in your opinion makes a good friend.
  • Some teachers are special. Explain why one particular teacher in your life was so special.
  • Most people have a favorite toy. Think about your favorite toy and why it is your favorite. Now write 3 - 5 paragraphs to tell about your favorite toy and explain why you like it.
  • The gym teacher has just announced that field day will be at the end of the month. Write 3 -  5 paragraphs to describe the events that take place at field day to a new student at your school.
  • Each child has a special position in their family. Explain the advantages and disadvantages of the position you hold in your family--youngest child, only child, middle child etc.
  • Choose something you know about (a place you have visited, something you saw while traveling, something you have studied in school, a hobby you wish to share). Write a letter to your pen pal in another country telling about your topic.
  • You are the class president and have been asked to write an introduction for a person you admire greatly. Write an essay describing the most admirable qualities of the person.
  • Think of some things you learned outside of school. For example, you learn from pet care, television, or grandparents. Explain what you learned.
  • If you could visit anywhere on Earth, where would it be and why would you want to visit there? What things would you do there? Write a letter to the judges of a travel agency contest for a free vacation trip.
  • If you had the opportunity to meet any person (living or dead) who would it be, why would you choose that person, and what would you want to say when you met?
  • You have been asked to write an essay about a day in the life of a fourth grader to be placed in a time capsule that will be buried this year and opened in 2500.
  • Write an essay about the differences between two different types of insects. Give examples of how each type is adapted to its environment.
  • Write a letter to your (future) grandchildren. Choose any two major events occurring during your lifetime that you believe would be important enough to pass along to your grandchildren.
  • Write the directions for "how to" do something.
  • Choose a book or TV show that that you have enjoyed. You are to write an essay telling the reader why you enjoyed it.

What are some recommended opinion writing prompts?

Look at the statements below.  Write whether you agree or disagree with the statements.  Make sure to support your ideas with specific details.

  • We should all grow our own vegetables.

  • Everyone should have to exercise every day.

  • Nobody should litter.

  • I should be allowed sweets every day.

  • I should be able to stay at home on my own.

  • I should be able to go to bed later.

  • I should be allowed a pet.

  • I should get a pocket money raise from my parents.

  • Children should be able to use cellphones in school.

  • The school day should be shorter.

  • There should be no homework.

  • School break times should be longer.

  • Pets should be allowed in school.

  • We should not have a school dress code.

  • Smoking should be banned for everyone.