Kindergarten Writing: How-To Books Unit of Study

Kindergarten Writing: How-To Books Unit of Study

With Unit 1 and Unit 2 of the Kindergarten Writing Curriculum complete, students now shift to Unit 3, and it’s all about writing How-to Books! This is always a fun unit to teach since students share something they know how-to do in a book form. This unit of writing is such a confidence booster as students realize they are able to teach others how to do something!

Undoubtedly, teaching writing in kindergarten can be one of the most challenging aspects of teaching. In fact, this is the biggest struggle for many teachers in my private Facebook group. While we are talking about this struggle, let’s be honest: not all adults love to write. In like manner, children can struggle too! This is exactly why I have created the Kindergarten Writing Bundle! This easy to use curriculum has EVERYTHING you need to make writing successful in your classroom or homeschool! Simply put, my desire is for kids to learn to LOVE writing because they feel successful at it!

Fortunately, I think this curriculum hits the spot! I am SO excited to share this Kindergarten Writing Curriculum with you!

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Kindergarten Writing Curriculum Scope:

There are a total of 7 units included in this comprehensive writing curriculum:

Let’s take a look at Unit 3 in the Kindergarten Writing Curriculum!

Teaching writing How-To Books can be such a rewarding and experience for kids! I especially love to hear about all of the silly and outlandish things that go on in a kindergartener’s head! Nonetheless, it is important to teach writing using a systematic approach.

Therefore, this Kindergarten Writing Curriculum uses a Writers Workshop type model. This means that there will be a mini-lesson, status updates (pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, evaluating, or publishing), writing, and sharing! Don’t worry… I have you covered on how to effectively implement this curriculum in your classroom!

So when do you start teaching writing in Kindergarten? Good question! Right away! You can get this curriculum up and running during the first or second week of school! Luckily, you don’t need to wait until students know a certain number or sight words or letters. During Unit 1 and 2, we are not expecting them to write sentences….yet! Instead, in units 1 and 2 students will understand that their drawings/illustrations tell a story. Consider all of the wordless picture books you have “read.” You can certainly understand the storyline in those books. Allowing students to draw pictures and orally tell their story will show them that they too are authors!

As we move onto Unit 3, students may begin to write words and/or label their drawings to tell how to do something in their books!

*Side note: If you are looking for fun ways to teach the alphabet, click here. For fun phonics activities, click here.

What is Included In Unit 3: How-to Books?

  • 22 Detailed Lesson Plans
  • Yearly Goals (Kindergarten and First Grade comparison)
  • Suggested Schedule for (60, 45, and 30 minute blocks)
  • Tips for Getting Started
  • Curriculum Scope and Unit Scopes
  • Developmental Writing Stages Chart
  • Mentor Text Guides
  • Conferencing Guides, Planners, and Trackers
  • Assessments Guides
  • Rubrics
  • Writing Templates
  • Publishing Party Guide and Templates
  • Writing Posters
  • Personal Word Wall
  • Writer’s Checklist
  • Cover of a Book Poster
  • How-To Books Steps Poster
  • The Writing Process Poster
  • Young Author Award Certificate

Let’s start with the Lesson Plans!

These easy-to-follow lesson plans set you up for success. They are broken up into 6 simple parts:

Focus- The skill, strategy, or idea students will be focusing on this lesson. 

Warm Up- A quick activity that has students review and practice previous skills. 

Mini Lesson- Teach, model, and discuss the new skill in today’s lesson.

Practice-The hands-on portion of the lesson where students apply what they have learned in the mini lesson to their own writing. During this time you will conference individually with students. 

Mid-Practice Teaching Point- A quick reminder and chance to highlight the great work students are doing. 

Share- Lesson wrap up where students analyze, reflect on, and share their work. 

I have also laid out what a lesson might look like with a 60 minute, 45 minute, and 30 minute time block. We all have different schedules, and this writing curriculum is designed to meet your needs! Do what works best for YOU!

Also included are some tips for getting started! With this cohesive curriculum, I have set you up for success! In short, all the work has been done for you. Just print out your materials and open up your lesson plans! Of course you will want to monitor students progress, and change your plans appropriately.

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Here are a few things that will help you, your students, and your classroom be ready to implement a Writers Workshop model. 

Things to keep on-hand:

Teacher Materials- You will need a teacher copy of each template for modeling. You may find it helpful to use a document camera or recreate the templates on chart paper so students can easily see them. Many teachers find that putting their example away at the start of work time reduces the likelihood of students copying your work. 

Writing Process Poster- This poster helps students learn the steps of the writing process and track what the class is currently working on. 

Use Velcro, tape, or a clothes pin to attach the marker to the laminated poster so it can easily be moved.  

Word Wall- A wall and/or personal list that students use to help them spell sight words. 

Alphabet Chart- A wall chart and/or personal list that students use to help them identify and shape letters. As students start learning digraphs and other special sound combinations it can be helpful to add these. 

Writing Materials- Providing students with extra pencils or creating an independent system for them to get a new pencil when necessary will reduce interruptions. 

Writing Folder- During the writing process students will have several drafts and templates. A dedicated writing folder can be helpful for organizing these materials. I’ve included a cover that you can personalize to add to the front of each writing folder.

Kindergarten Writing How-to Books- Unit 3 Scope:

There are 22 detailed lesson plans that will walk you through how to teach writing How-To Books! By the end of the unit, your students will have written 3 How-To Books, and will be ready to move onto Unit 4!

In order to make your writing block effective, be sure to implement procedures and plan out your routines and expectations. Get your materials set up and provide students with a writing folder. Be sure to model, model, model!

Organization:

Each child will get his/her own writing folder. Of course, this folder will be the place where they keep all of their writing templates, charts, and materials.

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Inside of each folder, you can include the Alphabet Sound Chart, the Letter Chart, Letter Formation Chart and any other resources about the unit.

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Included in the files are pencil labels…

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Mentor Texts:

Mentor texts are an important component to each unit in the Writing Curriculum. What are Mentor Texts? Mentor text(s) are 1-2 example texts that illustrate the writing style we are focusing on for the unit. 

For the Kindergarten How-To Books, here are some examples of mentor texts you can use:

  • “How to Read a Story” by Kate Messner
  • “How to Spy on a Shark” by Lori Haskins Houran
  • “Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle” by Chris Raschka
  • “How to Make a Liquid Rainbow” by Lori Shores (or another book  from the Hands-On Science Fun How-to series)
  • “Growing Vegetable Soup” by Lois Ehlert

There are plenty more books that you can choose as mentor texts to teach writing non-realistic fiction, but these are just a few of my favorites.

In Lesson 1, we introduce mentor texts. Discussion- How do you know this book is non-fiction? What is this book teaching us how to do? What steps does the book teach us? 

The mentor texts will be part of your Writers Library.

Writers Library

A Writers Library is a larger collection of on-topic texts that students can read and reference throughout the unit. Consider keeping these books in a special location where students can access them throughout the unit. These books will act as a reference for students who might struggle with writing non-realistic fiction stories.

Planning Stage:

During Lesson 2, students will start planning their How-To Books. Students will be asked to think of things that they know how to do and draw them in their brain planning template. Teachers can model and brainstorm a variety of things they know how to do at work, home, outside, etc..  Add each idea to your brain with a picture and label.  We will use our brainstorm to help us plan our how-to books.

NOTE: Many students may not be ready to write full sentences in their brainstorming template and that’s OK! Labeling is an age appropriate stage in the planning phase. To be clear, labeling looks different based on each student’s abilities. Some may label with beginning sounds or invented spelling. Some may label with with proper spelling of words or phrases. Nonetheless, the most important point is that we want them to WRITE, whatever that may look like. We use small groups to meet students where they are and move them forward.

Posters for Writing How-To Books

The Writing Ideas poster is helpful in generating ideas of things that students can writing about. One of the most difficult tasks in writing is answering the question, “What do I write about?” Adults and children alike can struggle with this part of writing, which is why I like to include idea posters. Students may use these ideas or they may help to spark other ideas they can write about.

Posters help students understand what authors and illustrators do when publishing a book. Students will become both the author and illustrator in their own How-To Books!

In addition to writing and illustrating the book, students learn that they need to edit their books. Photographs can also take the place of illustrations as students become the photographer for their How-To Books.

Keeping students on track with differentiating between fiction and non-fiction with posters can be helpful. Likewise, making sure that their illustrations include detailed pictures will help their readers better understand their books.

The posters are simple and to the point. This poster is an easy reference for the focus of the unit: How-To Books are nonfiction books that teach how to do something.

Students will also have access to mini Writing Idea posters, if you choose to use them.

A Writer’s Checklist can be used during small groups to help students edit their writing once they get to that stage.

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The Writing Process poster will help keep students on track as you move from lesson to lesson. This will highlight where they are in the writing process and what is coming next.

In Unit 3, students also learn about the different jobs that are included when a how-to book is published.

Templates

The unit includes templates to help students illustrate their how-to books in 3 steps. Their books will include the beginning step, the middle step and the final step in how to do something.

The activity below offers additional support to help students practice fiction and non-fiction. We want to keep students on track with writing their How-to Books.

My Writing Checklist allows students to check their own writing. The visual clues are also part of the main classroom posters, so students clearly understand what is on their checklist for the How-to Books.

Numbering the pages at the bottom helps students make sure that their How-to Books have 3 steps.

Developmental Stages of Writing appropriate for Kindergarten:

While all students develop differently, most student writing progresses along these developmental writing stages. Therefore, use this chart to determine a student’s current writing level and identify next steps and goals. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind, it is normal for students to progress through some stages quickly and linger at others. 

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  • Pre-Writing Stage:
  • Pictures
  • Random Scribbling
  • Linear Scribbling. Scribbling moves from left to right
  • Letter-like Symbols
  • Random Letters. Letters do not correspond to sounds.
  • Beginning Writing Stage:
  • Letter Strings- child can “read” writing.
  • Letter Groups
  • Labeling Pictures
  • Copying Print (Writer can’t read their writing.
  • Sound Writing:
  • Beginning Sounds
  • Beginning and Ending Sounds
  • Medial Sounds
  • Fluent Writing
  • Phrase Writing
  • Mixed Sound and Recall Spelling
  • Sentence Writing
  • All Syllables are Represented
  • Paragraph Writing

Conferencing:

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Conference is the heart of Writer’s Workshop! This is where you will work with your small groups and get a good feel of where they are in their writing. Certainly keep in mind that you’re conferring with them. It’s an opportunity to provide individualized instruction, assess students writing, reinforce skills taught during the mini-lessons.

Highlighting Strengths

When you confer with your students, you can identify their strengths and notice what they are doing well. Specifically, these moments are great opportunities to celebrate those moments and help build self-confidence. As a result, students’ writing stamina grows as students learn what they are doing correctly.

Improving Weaknesses

Conferencing also gives the chance for students to think about where they can improve their writing. Certainly you can easily make this your teaching point. You may want to pose questions during this time. For example, what else do good writers do? Suggestions could include adding more details. Or they might need to make sure their writing has a beginning, middle and end. Perhaps the student is working on labeling. Whatever the case, conferencing time is a time to set goals for something they can work on to improve their writing so they can become even better writers.

Scaffolding

In light of the vigorous process, I have included Wordless Picture Books to help make this process more effective. Use these Wordless Picture Books to address specific writing goals with students. For example, some students may be working on labeling, and some might work on detailed pictures. By the end of the year, you will see students progress in the Developmental Stages of Writing and move onto write sentences and even paragraphs.

Laminate the Wordless Picture Books and use them model what good writing looks like while meeting with your small groups.

Students can use the circles at the bottom of the page to show green for step 1, yellow for step 2, and red for step 3. Alternatively you can have students number their pages 1, 2, and 3.

Remember, some students will just draw pictures, some might label their pictures, and some will attempt to “write” words, phrases or sentences. First and foremost, let the creativity flow. Over time, as students progress through their How-to Books, they will continue to grow as writers. Consequently, you will be able to watch your writers blossom and fall in LOVE with writing! For this reason, be sure to celebrate your students successes as you continue to build writing stamina!

Rubrics:

Rubrics provide a structured way to measure student writing ability. With this in mind, use these rubrics to grade pre-unit on demands, post-unit on demands, and final writing pieces as needed. Most teachers find that grading all three writing pieces is not necessary. 

Conveniently, there are several options of rubrics provided so you can select the rubric(s) that best fits your needs. 

Publishing Party:

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Now it’s time for students to share their writing in Lesson 22! This is such an important component to Writer’s Workshop, especially in Kindergarten! Finally, it’s time to have a Publishing Party! Students have worked hard to write a book to teach someone how to do something. That took a LOT of effort, so now we are going to CELEBRATE their writing accomplishments with a publishing party!

Publishing parties look different in each room. Nonetheless, the important thing is that each student gets a chance to share their work! For a small class you could have students share one at a time. On the other hand, for a larger class you could have students share in small groups or sit at their desks while guests rotate around and see all of the books. 

Plan Ahead:

Mark your publishing party on your class calendar at the beginning of the unit to help your students get excited. Additionally, during revision and publishing days remind your students that they are authors and an audience is coming to hear their stories! 

In short, the main goal of a publishing party is for students to celebrate and share their accomplishments as a writer. Therefore, a variety of party supplies and props are provided including crowns, compliment pages, signs, party invitations, an “I’m an Author” banner and name tags. Use these to make your party something your students and families look forward to each unit.  Let’s get this party started!

For your convenience, you can use the included invitations to invite family, friends, or another class to come hear your student’s stories. 

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This Young Author Award will be cherished for years to come as students look back at their completion of writing How-to Books!

I hope this post was helpful to you as you set out to implement kindergarten writing workshop this year!

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Be sure to join my private Facebook group with other likeminded educators and homeschool families that are using Moffatt Girl Curriculum!

Happy Teaching!

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