How to Teach Kindergarten Students to Write Simple Sentences

Writing in kindergarten sets the stage for early reading skills.
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Kindergarten teachers have a big job when it comes to teaching writing because kindergarten students come into the classroom with a wide range of literacy skills. While some students can read and write basic words, other students cannot yet recognize all of their letters. A kindergarten teacher can begin incorporating writing into her literacy lesson plans once she gets all of her students up to speed with letter recognition and letter sounds.

1 Start With the Mechanics of A Sentence

Kindergartners need to learn that a sentence is like a complete thought. Illustrate this by saying the word "cat" and telling students that this one word alone doesn't tell them anything about what the cat looks like or what it's doing. Then say, "The cat sleeps in the sun." Talk about how this sentence gives more information about the cat. Invite students to think up their own sentences and write them down on a large piece of chart paper or on your board as they dictate them. Remind students that sentences require more than one word to convey information. End your lesson by showing students what a period and question mark look like, providing examples about when to use them and emphasizing that sentences aren't complete without their ending mark. This process is called interactive writing, and it provides concrete examples to kindergartners and improves their own writing skills, according to the Reading Rockets website.

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2 Finish the Sentences

Give your kindergartners sentences to finish. You might write the beginning of the sentences on lined writing paper or write them on the board for kindergartners to copy. Do a few examples together as a mini-lesson, which will reinforce the concept, according to the Teachers First website. Write "I want" on the board and ask the students to give one-word answers to complete the sentence, such as "candy," "toys" or "lunch." Write the examples to illustrate how to finish a sentence. Then, ask the kindergartners to work on their own to write one word to finish several other beginnings. For example, give kindergartners the beginning words of a sentence -- "I like" -- and have them finish it with words such as "dogs," "pizza," "school" or "football." Remind the students to put a period or question mark at the end of their sentence to make it complete.

3 Add Some Description

Once kindergartners are able to write one word to finish simple sentences, show them how to add description. As a group, write the beginning of a sentence, such as "I like," on the board. Invite students to give you an example of what they like, such as dogs, cats or sandwiches. When you write these examples, leave space between the word "like" and the words the students have given you so you can insert a describing word. Then invite the students to think of words that describe what they like, such as "white," "large," "furry" and "delicious." Ask students to plug one of these words into each of the sentences to add more flair. For example, a student might add "white" to "I like dogs" to make the sentence read "I like white dogs."

4 Turn Them Loose With Prompts

After you've instilled a clear understanding of what it takes to write a simple sentence, give your kindergartners prompts and let them write the entire sentence on their own. Sharon Taylor, a teacher writing for the Scholastic website, recommends choosing a prompt that is interesting to the students to make the lesson more effective. Ask the kindergartners to write a sentence telling you about their favorite food, their sibling or their vacation. Invite the students to read their sentence to you so you can review the elements, and remind them to add a describing word and a period or question mark.

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.