In this post, I am going to give you three different free downloadable writing rubrics that I made that are based strictly on the Common Core State Standards for Kindergarten, using language taken right out of that document. I will also provide some graded writing samples so that you can see what each writing style looks like. I hope that this is helpful to you! I welcome your comments and questions, so please let me know if you have anything to add!
The assessment of writing in Kindergarten has always been a little bit tricky in my opinion, since the range of what is considered to be “normal” in child development at any given age varies greatly. Now that the Common Core State Standards require three different types of writing in grades K-12 (opinion, informational, and narrative) assessment has gotten even more difficult! Hopefully, these rubrics will help a little bit.
Here is how the rubrics are formatted:
The section inside the box is the only part on each of the rubrics that changes. Otherwise, the rest of the rubrics are all exactly the same.
All of the language from each rubric was taken right out of the Common Core State Standards for Kindergarten. Surprisingly, there are not many references to writing conventions in the Kindergarten CCSS. In any case, included ALL of the references to the writing standards that I could find! If you find something that you believe I have left out, please let me know and I can try to update one or all of the rubrics.
The Top Section: Foundational Skills
The first section at the top of all three of the rubrics says, “Understands that words are separated by spaces in print.” (K.RFS.1C) This appears in the Common Core Reading Foundational Skills Standards for Kindergarten, and is the only thing from that section that really applies to writing, at least in my opinion.
The Middle Section: Writing Standards
The middle section of all three rubrics in the red and blue box below is the only part of each rubric that actually changes with each rubric. All of the other sections are exactly the same on all three rubrics for kindergarten, whether they are for narrative, opinion, or informative writing.
The Bottom Section: Language Conventions
This part is the same for all three of the rubrics. It includes:
-Capitalizes the first word in the sentence and the pronoun “I.” (K.L.2.a)
-Begins to recognize, name, and use end punctuation. (K.l.2.b)
-Writes a letter for most short vowels. (K.2.l.c)
-Writes many letters legibly. (K.2.l.a)
-Spells simple words phonetically, using alphabet principle. (K.2.l.d)
Kindergarten Narrative Writing Samples
Below is a sample of narrative writing done by a Kindergartner in January. In this case, I was trying to just get them to understand the sequence of writing a story, and also to focus on writing words as they sound. So I gave them the paper you see below, and let them write about our recent field trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific!
I had a set of sea animal rubber stamps, so I allowed the children to stamp just one sea animal that they saw, and then write that animal’s name. After I agreed that the child had tried his or her best to write the word phonetically, I let that child stamp one more sea animal and try to write its name! It worked really well as a way to motivate the children to write words that they didn’t already know how to spell and were therefore outside their little comfort zones.
This is an example of narrative writing done by a Kindergartner in January, but with part of it done by the teacher. If I were to grade this writing sample, I would have to account for the fact that the child didn’t really even have a chance to make capitals or periods herself! If you would like a “generic” copy of this paper, click here. It has all of the papers in the image below.
The writing sample below is another kindergarten narrative writing sample was done in April one year by one of my students. In this case, we studied the life cycle of the frog and then wrote about what we had learned. We had a couple of real bullfrog tadpoles and watched them grow, which was lots of fun!
Click here for a free download of all of these writing masters with the “primary lines” on them.
I helped the children organize their thinking by providing the page below with the spaces for the beginning, middle, and ending of their narrative story. Then I asked them to draw the pictures before writing, but NOT to color them until AFTER they wrote. I showed them how to make quick “sketches” with a pencil as a way to brainstorm, and then go back and really color it in later. Most of the children were just fine with this plan, although some of the younger, less mature ones did have a hard time “switching gears” from drawing to writing, and then back to drawing.
For this writing sample, I would give the child a “5” on all categories, except that he did not give a reaction to what happened. (This is not the child’s fault! I did not teach the children to do this at that time! Oops!) I do not remember how much teacher assistance was given for this assignment. Sorry!
Kindergarten Informative Writing Samples
Below are some kindergarten informative writing samples that were both done in May of that school year. In this case, we learned about chicks by hatching some real chicks in an incubator! Then the children tried to write a topic sentence, plus some details about the topic, and I encouraged them to write at least one sentence in addition to the first topic sentence. The Common Core also states that the writer should stay focused on one topic, and so the rubric also includes that, of course.
If I were grading the informative writing sample below, I would give her a score of five on everything, except for the section on capitalization, in which I would give her a score of three.
This is an example of informative writing in Kindergarten. I love the way the child wrote the speech bubble for the chick and how it is saying “Aaah!” after it makes it out of the egg! LOL!
In the kindergarten informative writing sample below, I would give the child a score of five on all of the sections! I see a topic sentence, and three detail sentences with proper spacing and punctuation in them! Plus, the child is including short vowel sounds, is using the alphabetic principal, and is spelling words as they sound. That’s pretty great for Kindergarten!
Kindergarten Opinion Writing Samples
In the opinion writing sample below, the child did very well! The only thing he did wrong was that he put the topic sentence last rather than first. I would say that “Spiderman is cool” is his topic sentence, and the detail sentences came first in this case. So I think I would give him a score of four in that area, if that were what was agreed upon by my Kindergarten team at my school! (We used to try to grade our important writing samples as a team so that they would all be graded fairly. This was a bit time consuming, but it did insure that our grading was uniform.) I would give him fives for everything else.
Here is an example of opinion writing in Kindergarten. The child tells us that he thinks that “Spiderman is cool,” based on all of the reasons stated. This child put his topic sentence last, so I would probably give him a score of four rather than five on that one area; everything else would get the maximum number of points.
Here is another example of Kindergarten Opinion Writing. I would give this child the maximum scores of five points in all areas, since she has a topic sentence (marked in green as per Step Up to Writing) and three detail sentences (marked in yellow.)
The writing sample below was harder to score because child had more trouble. Also, he was not sure what he had written when he was done and could not read all of it back, bless his heart! So as I recall, he said something like, “I like my …____. Fight …____. I like you cake.” He may have been writing about ninjas that fight people, but the biggest problem was that the child himself did not know what he had written when he was finished. So in this case, I would score this paper lower. Also, the words that he wrote phonetically were basically nonsense to him. That tells me that he is unsure of the alphabetic principal. I also knew that the words that he did spell correctly were learned from my sight word songs, not from knowing how to use short vowel sounds. (Lucky that we had those sight word songs to refer to, right?) Here is a sample below from Sing and Spell the Number Words and More Sight Words, just in case you are not familiar:
So, my background knowledge about the child’s abilities came into play in how I scored the child’s writing. This is my rule of thumb: when in doubt, look at the child’s other writing samples and then score the paper based on what the child usually does, rather than what you see on that ONE paper. Below you can see the Opinion Writing Rubric with the child’s scores for that piece of writing.
This rubric has been graded for the writing sample below.
I hope that helps a little bit! You can download my Common Core Kindergarten Writing Rubrics right here, along with the previous rubric that I made which is not aligned with the CCSS. The file also contains a copy of my chart of the Developmental Progression of a Child’s Writing, which I have also blogged on in the past.
Previous Blog Posts About How to Teach Writing in Kindergarten
1. Writing Rubrics for Young Children: Documenting Progress with Portfolio Assessment.
This is a great post because it explains what a portfolio is, why it is important, and gives a solid example of each stage of writing listed in the free downloadable rubrics. Plus, there are a couple of free writing papers to use with your students that have boxes at the bottom for them to check off when they finish their papers. They are supposed to remind them to go back and make sure they used capitals, spaces, and periods, etc.
2. Teaching Kindergartners to Write PARAGRAPHS!!!!
I really value this post because it describes how I taught the children how to start with a topic sentence and then write a couple of detail sentences, which is extremely important when teaching children to write informative print. In this case, our informative paragraphs were about Valentine’s Day, but I think that’s okay! As long as we get the procedure down, who cares? This post also tells a little about how I got them to stay “on topic” when writing, and has a really cute little story at the end that you won’t want to miss.
3. How to Teach Children To Write Words Like They Sound
This is a really GREAT post to help you teach the basics of getting children to simply write words the way they sound, which can be a hard thing for them to master. It has a free downloadable directed lesson plan and visual aids to go with it. It’s the kind of directed lesson plan that administrators seem to be demanding more and more of,(unfortunately,) with all of the steps in it.
4. Sounding Out and Making New Words with the Sounds Fun Word Building Kit
Just by looking at the title, this may not seem like a post on how to teach writing. But this post really tells you how to teach young children to go from reading and writing simple words like “cat” and “dog” to harder words like “shark,” “think,” “moon,” “cheek,” and “car.” If you haven’t tried the Sounds Fun Phonics CD or DVD, Poster or flash cards, and the Word Building Kit with your K/1 kids, then you’re really missing out on a tool that can propel the children that are ready from Kindergarten level writing on into first grade level writing. These little cards work as a phonics bridge for the children that can’t quite remember and apply the phonics sound spelling rules. I wouldn’t lie to you just to sell you this. As a group, they worked AMAZINGLY well for me! I guarantee it, 100%, and I’l give you a full refund if it doesn’t work for you.