The key to cultivating successful writers in kindergarten is to keep them excited about writing, but this is easier said than done. Writing is hard, especially for young children with developing fine motor skills who are just barely learning the basics of phonics. If you’re looking for ways to get students excited about writing, keep reading! I’m sharing a highly motivating and engaging way to give your students success as beginning writers.
The Challenge of Writing in Kindergarten
Writing is one of the most difficult academic tasks that kindergarten students complete. They have to apply everything they have learned about letters and sounds to form words and then sentences. Plus, their developing fine motor skills can also make the physical act of writing a challenge for them. It’s no wonder that some of our students are reluctant to write! They might be slow to get started, highly distracted, or even outright defiant when it’s time to put pencil to paper.
How to Get Kindergarten Students Excited About Writing
If writing is such a challenge for young kindergarten students, how can we possibly motivate them to keep practicing? I have found that it’s a necessity to be intentional about the writing lessons we plan for kindergarten! By choosing the right activities at the right time, your students will experience the excitement of success. These writing “wins” will keep your students motivated to continue practicing!
When it comes to choosing a writing unit for the beginning of the school year, labeling is just the right type of activity to get students excited about writing. It helps students feel successful and become more confident in their writing skills.
The Benefits of a Kindergarten Labeling Unit
Teaching students how to label objects is a great way to help them get more comfortable with the process of getting words onto their paper. In fact, you could plan an entire unit that teaches students about the purpose of labeling and how to write their own labels. This is a great introduction to writing for young students!
Since we’re focusing specifically on how to get students excited about writing, I wanted to share four reasons why a labeling unit is such a great choice for beginning writers.
1. Developmentally Appropriate
First, labeling objects is a more developmentally appropriate place to start when it comes to writing. Kindergarten students are just beginning to learn that sounds can be represented with letters through your classroom phonics lessons. It just doesn’t make sense to give them a page of blank writing lines and expect them to attempt to write a sentence. Can they try? Sure! Will they continue to be excited to keep trying? Probably not.
It’s a more natural transition for students to begin writing single words instead of full sentences. By labeling pictures and objects with words, students can apply their developing phonics skills in a more approachable way. This can really help them stay motivated to practice writing.
2. Establish a Positive Writing Routine
A labeling unit can help you establish a writing routine early on in the school year. When students have a chance to succeed with writing from the beginning of the year, it becomes part of their routine. (We all know how kindergarten students thrive on routine!)
The best part of an intentional writing routine is that it gives students more and more exposure to positive writing experiences. The more success that students have with writing, the more they will begin to view themselves as writers! Even as adults, we are more excited to participate in activities that we are good at. The same is true for our students! When you say that it’s time to write, they’ll be more eager to dive into the task, since it’s something they feel that they can do well.
3. Less Overwhelm
Labeling activities are visually less overwhelming than other writing activities. It doesn’t take long for students to make the connection that the white space on a paper will be filled in by them. When they are handed a blank piece of writing paper, it can be overwhelming for them to see all of that white space that needs to be filled in! (As a side note, this is one of many reasons why I love using picture writing prompts when students are ready to write sentences.)
In the case of a labeling unit, there is much less blank space for students to fill in. Instead of multiple blank handwriting lines, students just see a few empty labels. Since this is less overwhelming for students, they will be more likely to remain motivated to complete the activity.
4. Engaging Visuals
Finally, labeling activities are more visually engaging for young students. There are pictures for them to look at as they write the labels! After they finish labeling one picture, they’ll be eager to see what’s in the next.
This engagement is very helpful for independent writing practice, like labeling task cards during literacy centers. Students love to choose their favorite picture from the task card choices and are usually excited to choose the next card and keep going.
Overall, the more positive and successful experiences that you can give your students when it comes to writing, the better! I hope this post has shown you that a labeling unit can be one of those positive experiences.
Labeling Activities for Kindergarten
If you'd like to try a labeling unit in your classroom, I have created a set of activities and lesson plans that will get students excited about writing! Each mini-lesson in this labeling unit provides instruction ideas and opportunities for independent writing practice. This resource is low-prep, so it’s easy for you to implement these labeling activities in your classroom!
Save These Ideas to Get Students Excited About Writing
If you want to make sure that your students stay motivated to practice writing, take just a second to save this post! You can add the pin below to your favorite teaching board on Pinterest. You’ll be able to quickly find these tips and resources when it’s time to plan your writing activities for the year.