Ways to Help Young Writers Feel Successful

For whatever reason, writing always seems to be one of the most daunting concepts to tackle in the mind of a student. I don't think I have heard the phrase, "I don't know how" or, "I can't" more than when a student is tasked with a writing activity. This is especially true with our little learners who are just starting out with the most basic writing concepts. I've put together just a few simple strategies you can use to help your early writers feel successful and make huge growth in their writing.

The key to student writing success is to start with the basics. For me, this is introducing sentence writing using predictable charts. Predictable charts are a great way to introduce writing concepts such as capital letters, spaces between words, and punctuation at the end. It's also a great way to practice sight words and sentence fluency -- bonus!

The first thing you do to set up a predictable chart is come up with a sentence stem that uses familiar words or phrases. The three I usually like to choose from begin with "I like...", "I see...", or "I can...". Then students will create their own sentence using the stem and complete it with the word of their choosing and then I'll put their name in parenthesis at the end so we know they wrote it.

The thing I love about this part of the predictable chart is the students feel proud of the sentence they created - it's something they did, with their name on it. It may seem like a simple thing, but this really does help them become excited about writing!

You can also have pre-made sentence stems on a big chart paper for the students to actually write a sight word themselves. I used this predictable chart during our apple week last year and they filled in a sentence stem using the word "see" and a number - again, combining multiple concepts in one easy strategy!

After your predictable chart is completed, you can turn it into an independent writing activity for your students to accomplish. First, I'll type up the students' sentences and give it to them in a strip.

Next, they'll cut out each word and glue it to a piece of writing paper, being sure to put the words in order, use spaces between the words, and have the word with the period at the end of their sentence.

After that, they will draw a picture to match the sentence and practice writing the actual sentence themselves.

Having their sentence as a visual model helps with handwriting, sentence structure, and even confidence!

Another way to help young writers feel successful is to have pictures and labels for more difficult words. One activity I love using with my students is pocket chart sight word sentence builders. In this picture, students are building predictable sentences similar to the ones they created with me during shared writing. Only, instead of having the actual word at the end, there is a picture representation.

Then, based on my students' levels of writing, I have differentiated writing recording sheets for them to complete and show their work. Differentiating work this way allows every student to feel successful because they will have completed the activity that best fits the writing level they are at. Some are only ready to trace the words; others are ready to write all of the words on their own.

Another way to help young writers feel successful is to break down reading/writing sentences into separate tasks. I love using my Read It! Write It! Build It! Draw It! printables from my monthly sight word sentence builder packs. They provide students the opportunity to read a sentence before they write it; thus providing a model for them to reference as they are writing their sentences with the proper structure. I noticed a huge improvement in my students' ability to remember to include spaces and capital letters in their sentences. They loved being able to illustrate - another HUGE part of early writing - the sentences they built. This helped them work on adding details to their pictures as well.

This activity can be found in Spooky Sentence Building!

This activity can be found in Snow Many Sentences!

All of these pocket chart activities and printables can be found in my Sight Word Sentence Builders for the Year {The Bundle}. You can get there by clicking the picture below! There are also links to each individual monthly pack so your students can practice these in the pocket chart or writing center all year long! 

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  1. Wonderful ideas Caitlin! Starting with the predictable sentences is the perfect way to build their confidence as a writer.

    Crockett's Classroom . . . Forever in Third Grade

  2. Loves these ideas! So simple to implement and SO helpful for students. I'm heading over to get that full year bundle! :)

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Meredith! I hope your students love it!

      The Kinder Garden

  3. I love how you've broken down an otherwise overwhelming task (writing something from scratch) into a series of very doable smaller tasks! What an awesome way to get kids seeing themselves as successful writers!

  4. These are great Caitlin! That first "jump" into writing feels like such a big step, these will help!

  5. What a great way to get students writing and feeling proud of their work! I love the idea of having them create their sentence, typing it, and then allowing them to practice writing it again! Such fun ideas!!

    Mrs. 3rd Grade