Workshop in Pre-K
Write from the very
start! That's my motto! When I began teaching pre-k I
struggled with how to do Writer's Workshop. . .or even if I should
do Writer's Workshop. Was it developmentally
appropriate? Well, what I discovered was YES! There is
no better way to meet the individual needs of every child!
Here is a glimpse of
Writer's Workshop in my pre-k class.
The Stages of
child has some letter like markings. Some marks resemble
letters, others resemble shapes or lines.
child uses correct spelling for some high frequency words and
continues to use isolated letters, symbols and numbers.
child forms sentences around known words and repetitive
child writes freely using approximated and conventional
Writer's Workshop begins with a mini-lesson. The
children are sitting on the rug around me and it last between
2 and 5 minutes at the beginning of the year.
- 15 minutes
children return to their seats to "write." They always
draw a picture first and with help, "stretch out" their words
which might only be one letter. As the year progresses,
the children are able to write more and more. It's
(happens during writing time)
conference with as many kids as I possibly can. I go
around the room and simply say, "Tell me your story." In
the beginning of the year the kids dictate their story to me.
Then, as the year passes, and the children have written more,
I say, "Tell me what you wrote." or "Can you read your story
to me?" If I do not get to every child then I set their
journal aside and call them over during rest time or lunch. My
aide also assists with conferences. This year I was
extremely lucky to have 2 tutors (12th graders) come and help
during this time. I was able to have one adult at each
gather the kids in a circle on the rug. Those who want
to share (by the end of the year it was every child, every
day!) bring their journals. I always point out something
that is noteworthy. This is the kids' favorite part!
Rules for our Writer's Workshop
chooses the topic. When children choose their own
topic, it empowers them and makes their writing meaningful.
The kids grow to love this time of our day and ask for it when
we skip it. Assigning a topic takes away the creativity
and makes it a tedious task. If a child is having
difficulty choosing a topic, I refer them to our morning
message, the themed word wall, or have them go to the reading
center to look through books. I also allow the children
to talk to each other. This is usually the best way to
spark an idea.
Write on one
page a day. The journals are in folders with blank
paper in the fasteners and have an alphabet freeze and
handwriting chart in the pocket. They also have a class
roster with pictures and first names. The first semester
I collect the journals after each session, turning to the next
blank page, so the journals are ready for the following day.
During the second semester, the children keep their writing
journals in their chair pockets with a ribbon attached to the
top fastener which acts as a book mark.
"write on one page" rule, the children drew on several pages,
never taking time to develop one piece.
Have a word wall
which allows the children to physically go and get words to
take back to their seat. My word wall is pictured to
the right. It measures from floor to ceiling. I
type the words and kids' names, and cut around the word shape,
laminate them and then attach a little piece of magnetic tape
to the back. I use sticky tack to attach a large washer
to the word wall, making it magnetic. The children use a
step stool to reach the higher words.
At the beginning
of the year, only the kids' names are up. Once we are
well into the year, I introduce how to use the word wall and
only add one word every week or two (depending on my
each child as often as you can. This is when the
most powerful teaching and learning takes place. I
sit with each child and help them with whatever it is they
need help with. . . whether it be drawing their picture,
stretching out words, choosing a topic, forming letters. . .
This is the time
when the child dictate's their story to me and I write it on
the page. If they do not have a "story" then I ask the
child to tell me what everything is in their picture and I
label it. Then I'll say, "Tell me what's happening. . ."
and I write their story.
As the year
progresses, I have the children begin to label their own
pictures. Then we slowly move to writing simple
sentences. When they write sentences, I write directly
underneath what the child has written (using conventional
spelling). I simply tell the child, "This is how it
would look if it were written in a book." This way the
child does not feel badly about what they have written and we
can remember what it says when looking back on it at a later
Have a plan for
what you want the kids to do when they are finished writing.
I tried the activities I used to do with my first graders such
as go back and add more detail, or start a new piece but I
found that this did not work with my pre-k kids. It
started to take the fun out of writing and they simply did not
have the endurance to do more. I ended up having a "workboard"
time (assigned centers that were quick and open-ended).
When I finished conferencing, the kids cleaned up the centers
and those who wanted to share brought their journal to the
addition to journals and crayons)
have a self-inking date stamp that I have taught the children
to use. They simply stamp the top of their page once and
pass it on to the next child. That way, I'm not stamping
every page everyday!
Boo Boo Tape
Boo Tape (computer labels) is what we use to cover up mistakes
in writing that happen when I'm sitting with the child.
For example, if a child writes the letter S backwards, I'll
put Boo Boo Tape on it and have the child rewrite it.
use a highlighter to write in a child's journal when I need to
model something. For example, if the child is trying to
write the letter R and they have looked at the handwriting
chart, written it awkwardly and still needs a little support,
I can use the highlighter to model correct stroke and
formation and then the child can trace what I wrote.
use the Magna Doodle to model correct letter formation or
drawing without having to actually write on the child's paper.