Build confident and independent writers in the classroom with Writing Mats. This resource provides the perfect writing prompts for kids!
All children learn to read and write, eventually. They will just learn at different times and in different ways. It is our job as educators to offer a variety of tools, strategies, and support to help them. In this post, you will find details about a writing tool that will guide children towards writing confidently and independently.
Common Writing Challenges with Kids
When children are beginning to write, the challenges we often see involve coming up with ideas or words to write, a fear of misspelling, or having too many ideas and lack of organization. These are all things we witness and it is our job to help our students navigate through them.
Imagine this: Jake, a first grade student, is sitting at the carpet looking up at you with big eyes as you are instructing the class to write in their journal. You tell the class that you want them to write about their family. You ask them to write quietly for 10 minutes and to produce a few sentences. After getting his journal, Jake heads to his desk where he begins to fiddle with the contents of his desk. You glance over and see that Jake hasn’t started to write. You ask him about his family, but he sits there looking down refusing to speak. The 10 minutes go by and Jake has not produced anything.
A reluctant writer, like Jake, is struggling and needs extra strategies in place for success. What we know of Jake is that he has a hard time coming up with his own ideas. He is quiet during classroom discussions and rarely shares. What he would benefit from is a list of words and pictures related to a family. Something he could pull ideas from. He would also benefit from a sentence starter, such as “My family likes” or “My family is…” to help him get started.
Imagine this: Joelle, a kindergarten student, loves to write words. When you give the class the topic of FAVORITE ANIMALS, she is jumping up and down to share at the carpet. At her desk, she begins to sound out a variety of animal names and writes them around the page. You praise Joelle for her ideas and sounding out her words, but now you would like her to try focusing on one animal and writing a sentence about it.
Can you relate?
To move away from the list writing that Joelle enjoys, we will need to teach her explicitly how to select one idea to focus on and to write about it. Her class would benefit from focusing on one specific topic that is not too broad, as well as lessons on how to write a sentence about the topic. Once that initial sentence is written down, she will feel confident to write more. Gradually the length of her writing will grow and the organization and appearance will improve.
Writing Mats Support Kids as they Learn to Write
Having spent many years supporting and teaching beginner writers, I came up with a solution to help guide them towards writing confidence and independence. This solution is called Writing Mats.
Writing Mats provide teachers with an easy to use tool and resource that meets the needs of students and offers them the support they need with words, topic ideas, and a self-check list to follow.
What Do Writing Mats Include?
Writing Mats are printable writing activities that include 2 variations for each topic. One Writing Mat variation includes interlines with a sentence starter that needs to be traced. A second writing mat variation includes regular lines with a topic or title given. These are great for differentiation during your writing block!
There is a picture-word list on each Writing Mat with related clip art to match the story starter and topic. There is also a space to draw a picture. The word list provides ideas for drawing that many kids need.
Writing Conventions Checklist
There is a writing checklist at the bottom of each Writing Mat to help students remember what they need to include in their writing passage. They can review the items before writing, refer to it during to stay on track, and color in the check marks after to show they have used the writing conventions.
The writing conventions included are:
- use capitals
- use spaces
- print neatly
- stretch out words
Writing Prompts for Kids
Writing prompts help reluctant writers by giving them a topic to write about that interests them. They provide kids with the structure they crave and need. Writing prompts build confident kids who see themselves as writers.
Writing Mats include a variety of topics and writing prompts each month. The topics relate to celebrations, seasons, school activities, science, as well as common topics that children can relate to.
They will build writing fluency through repeated writing frequently throughout the month. The large variety of engaging topics will keep your students interested and excited about writing!
How to Use Writing Mats & Prompts with Kids
Writing Mats are great for independent writing time, creative and story journal writing, writer’s workshop, writing centers, small group instruction, homework, and morning work. They are versatile and can be used in so many ways!
In the beginning or with younger students, make sure to go over the different parts of a Writing Mats with short, whole-group mini-lessons.
Use Writing Mats to teach and practice (mini-lesson ideas):
- writing on the lines
- writing a complete sentence
- using a word list to write
- including pictures that match writing
- finger spaces
- sounding out words
- printing neatly
- rereading for clarity
- punctuation and capitals
Once students are ready to use Writing Mats independently, you can create a simple writing center. With all the embedded tools Writing Mats provide, there is very little else needed for a writing center to take shape. Kids will enjoy selecting their own writing prompts in the writing center.
Writing Mats are easy-to-prep ahead of time for a whole month. Simply print your desired pages and attach with the free student workbook cover to make students their own writing booklets.
What Teachers are Saying About Writing Mats
Best TpT purchase EVER! I love the self-checking rubric at the bottom of each page. I love that the writings can be made into a packet for the month. There is a large variety of topics to write about, so narrative, opinion, and expository writings are all included! Thank you so much for creating and sharing THE PERFECT resource for K-2! ~ Mary Ann E.
I love the visual reminders for my kiddos to edit their own work. The word banks are a must for my ELL’s. I love all the support these give my kids. ~ Susan T.
I absolutely loved how it gave my 2nd graders structure when writing. They knew what they had to write about, but there were also pictures which helped to spark their memory and add additional details! Great product! ~ Katie S.
These made making monthly journals so easy and so fun for students! I liked how I could give them prompts towards the beginning of the year and work toward more independence! Thank you! ~ Amanda M.
FREE Writing Mats to Try
Ready to give Writing Mats a try? Download a free sample for your classroom! Click the image below to gain access.
Writing Mats with Prompts for Kids
Daily writing practice for the Whole Year has 20 different printable writing mats for 10 months of the year (that’s 200 writing prompts in total)!
Writing Mats are perfect for first grade, but could also be used for advanced learners or with support in Kindergarten. They also work well as extra practice and independent work for second grade.
Watch the video to see Writing Mats in action!
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