Prewriting activities for elementary students

WeAreTeachers Staff on November 1, Anchor charts are a great way to make thinking visual as you teach the writing process to your students.

Prewriting activities for elementary students

Voting The Constitution Their teacher recorded their responses on the whiteboard and asked students to select a few to put on paper in front of them.

From the larger list, they could narrow or add items if they chose to do so. Like free-writing, brainstorming sometimes yields great ideas and sometimes does not. Imaging Prewriting does not always involve words.

Images can also spur thinking. You can model for students how pictures can spur thought. Put a large piece of chart paper on the board and begin to doodle, draw, web — whatever comes. Visual learners may feel more comfortable thinking on paper with images rather than words. Imaging can be done like free-writing — very fast or more slowly.

Talking We are wired to tell stories; many cultures have rich oral traditions that rely on verbally transferred information. Tapping into that skill can help students to improve both their oral and written literacy skills.

Some teachers take out small tape players and ask students who like to talk more than they like to write to speak into them. Students can then replay the recording and try to note the good ideas that were once verbally fleeting.

This is constructing meaning in much the same way that writers do and can be used as a transition to more conventional writing. They can be used as journals, as observation tools, or as a combination of many kinds of writing.

Using Technology Although writing is generally a low-resource subject, there are products on the market that can assist students in many aspects of the writing process, prewriting included. Programs like Inspiration or Kidspiration help students by showing them ways to organize random ideas.

For instance, Inspiration allows students to select various-sized and -shaped icons and shows them many ways to manipulate those icons to consider relationships and organizational patterns. This can also be done on paper, without the assistance of a computer.

If the student submits the word "freedom," for example, the computer prompts questions about the subject. The Internet can also play a significant role in helping students decide what to write about. Bloggers regularly post ideas that beg for responses. Responding to a real person, even one who cannot be seen, has innumerable benefits for student reading, writing, and thinking.

In addition, blogs, like all kinds of reading, can spur ideas that generate new writing. One level of participation may be a student interacting with others about the topic. Another might be the student using something said to begin a new piece that can be worked on in writing workshop.

There are security concerns related to these kinds of activities in schools, but school media specialists and instructional technologists can help you limit access to online environments that are educationally appropriate.

Strategic Planning as Part of Prewriting The difference between skills and strategies is that skills are automatic and strategies are intentionally activated. For example when a reader engages with a text that is simple and interesting, he or she likely makes connections as a matter of course.

As he or she reads, there are automatic tie-ins to personal experience or the world or another text.

prewriting activities for elementary students

When that same reader is faced with a far more difficult text, he or she must be intentional about making connections, so that self-talk occurs in order to slow the reader down for this text and activate metacognition e.

It is the same with writing tasks. There are many kinds of writing that people do effortlessly. They need or want to say something, so they do. When students text message or IM each another, they rarely think carefully about what they are going to say before writing and pressing send.

Like the reader who moves easily through a text, any strategies that they might use are invisible and automatic. That is because the cognitive demands of this kind of communication are manageable. We all do a variety of writing tasks with ease. There is no reason to incorporate explicit planning in these easy, often pleasant writing tasks.

When confronted with a less familiar or more demanding writing task, though, writers often slow themselves down to say, "Ok, now how do I begin this? Student writers often have little experience with strategic writing. Like all parts of the writing process, students need discussion, modeling, and guided practice, even in something as simple as asking oneself how to begin.

This strategy might seem ineffectual, but it serves an important purpose by stopping students long enough to think. In a mini-lesson on planning you might bring a writing task that you need to do for your professional life.Online graphic organizers might help upper elementary students to organize their ideas for specific writing genres during the prewriting stage.

Examples are the Essay Map, Notetaker, or Persuasion Map.

prewriting activities for elementary students

Although writing is generally a low-resource subject, there are products on the market that can assist students in many aspects of the writing process, prewriting included. Programs like Inspiration or Kidspiration help students by showing them ways to organize random ideas.


One of the simplest activities to put together for your students to practice pre-writing is a sand tray. Kids can use their fingers or an unsharpened pencil to practice writing. As an alternative to sand, you can fill your tray with salt, flour, cornmeal, or rice. Another form of prewriting is having students draw a diagram.

If the essay topic is to write about changes needed in one’s high school. I have students write about changes needed in one’s high school and then draw lines: one to the left, one to the bottom, and one to the right.

Many play activities are actually encouraging prewriting skills. Before they learn how to write in school, young children love to write notes, keep journals, draw treasure maps and . Prewriting! The answer to that final question is quite simple. The best and most successful papers always start with prewriting.

So, what is prewriting anyway? Good question! Prewriting is a term that describes any kind of preliminary work that precedes the actual paper writing.

It doesn't necessarily have to .

Elementary Language Arts Prewriting Lessons at Internet 4 Classrooms