First graders should possess the vocabulary and grammar necessary to write cohesive sentences and short paragraphs. Most enjoy expressing themselves through storytelling and simple poems. Children at this age are quite imaginative, so in many cases, all they need is a simple prompt to tap into their evolving skills. This includes writing, but you can also use storytelling as a means of working in other skills, such as drawing, conversing and cooperating with peers.
For adults, group writing activities involve passing a paper around a circle of writers, with each participant writing a new sentence. While first graders are creative, capable writers, they also thrive on their relationships with their peers and enjoy talking to one another. Children can practice interactive writing during play dates and birthday parties, sitting in a circle, with each adding a new sentence to a story or discussing what can happen to a character. You can give them a prompt such as, "Let's imagine what would happen if dogs could talk."
Understanding the traditional structure of a story can help your child to understand the basic sequence most stories follow. Asking him to create a physical representation of the plot, such as a map or a mobile, can help him develop more sophisticated plots in his own writing. Initially, you may ask your child to create a physical representation of his or her favorite book and later, repeat the activity for an original story.
Though children of this age are quite imaginative, sometimes they need a little push in the right direction to focus their creativity. Prompts such as, "Write a story about a girl who goes on an adventure," or "Retell a fairy tale from the point of view of the bad guy," give your child creative license, but are far more direct and actionable than broad prompts such as, "Write a fictional story."
Children acquire new vocabulary daily, both through conversation and schoolwork. One way to help your first grader remember new vocabulary is to compile a list of words learned. Find ways to incorporate new words into writing activities, as this will help your child to master the word and its various forms. You can ask your child to write stories around a single new word, stories that incorporate several words or stories that require them to use rhyming vocabulary.
- Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images