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By Grade Band


Writing instruction in preschool is contextual, taking place as children explore text in their environment and begin to assign meaning to marks they place on a page. It happens in a developmentally appropriate way, through explorations of art and expression. Children are encouraged to:

  • Place marks on paper, that may evolve into letters, to represent their ideas
  • Develop familiarity with, and assign meaning to, high interest letters such as those in their own name
  • Use art as a form of written communication (create and tell)
  • Share ideas, thoughts and stories while adults take dictation, helping to forge the connection between spoken and written words
  • Interact with a variety of materials that encourage fine motor development


Writing instruction in prekindergarten builds on a child’s developing understanding that the marks on a page have meaning. They recognize letters as being consistent and predictable. Many are even assigning meaning to common words such as their names or environmental print. Children at this age are encouraged to value writing as a form of expression, a way to make their ideas known to the world. Approximations such as scribble writing and invented spelling are encouraged as children learn to apply their phonics knowledge to their love of story telling. As the year progresses, foundational writing skills are developed by:

  • Interactions with written words and letters in many formats
  • Participation in the Handwriting Without Tears foundational program designed to develop productive letter formation habits in a developmentally appropriate way
  • Using art as a form of written communication (create and tell)
  • Sharing ideas, thoughts, and stories through approximations while collaborating with an adult to record meaning
  • Interacting with a variety of materials that encourage fine motor development and refinement
  • Writing and drawing responses to a variety of prompts

Kindergarten and First Grade

In kindergarten and first grade, students are developing their identity as authors. The writing workshop curriculum provides a structure for this process, as well as for exploring a wide range of writing genres. Students practice their writing skills on everything from personal true stories to nonfiction informational texts, and friendly letters. Writing skills are also addressed throughout the day during group interactive writing, independent journal writing, and many emergent opportunities. Kindergarteners and first graders write for a variety of purposes including reflective, informative, narrative, and responses to literature. When writing, students are encouraged to use a combination of phonetic “best-guess” spelling and conventional spelling using resources such as the word wall and sight words. Students are supported in expressing their full ideas in written form, using pictures, labels, sentences, lists, and all other forms of recording. As part of the publishing process, students have many opportunities to “fancy up” a self-chosen writing piece to share with a broader community, developing their confidence in using written expression to communicate their ideas.

Second and Third Grade

Second and third graders work hard to build a community of writers, writing about what they know best – true stories from their lives – as well as crafting writing pieces that reflect knowledge newly acquired through research and investigation. They also focus on developing skills to work respectfully with a writing partner, giving and receiving detailed feedback, and developing an understanding of the importance of audience when engaging in written communication. Students practice revision strategies, including determining the most important part of their story, zooming in and adding details, dialogue, feelings and inner thinking. These strategies help the reader to better visualize the story. Throughout the writing process, students work on mechanics, including the proper use of capitals, punctuation, and conventional spelling patterns. Second and third graders write for a variety of purposes, developing their abilities to communicate to share information, connect with others, and advocate for their opinions.

Fourth and Fifth Grade

Fourth and fifth grade authors craft texts in many genres, including personal narrative, persuasive essay, realistic fiction, informational report, and poetry. They have flexibility and stamina for writing as they grow in their mastery of organization, production, depth of thinking, and mechanics. Knowledge of writing mechanics is included as part of a balanced writing program, with instruction in syllable word patterns, homophones, contractions, possessives, plurals, affixes and Greek and Latin roots. In addition, students learn about sentence structure, paragraph structure, capitalization, punctuation, and parts of speech. These authors make intentional, and increasingly sophisticated, stylistic decisions, revising and editing their work with purpose. They also develop skills in providing thoughtful, relevant feedback to peers. As they culminate their Giddens School experience, the students are able to confidently and competently express ideas, opinions, and information through written communication.