Writing Reports in Kindergarten? Yes!

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Two to ten 30-minute sessions
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This lesson provides three types of reports that can be written and shared by kindergarten students. These reports allow young students to see themselves as writers with important information to share with others. In the first report, students report what they've learned about an apple using all five senses by completing a simple report form. In the second activity, they explore a variety of nonfiction media about animals of their choice. After they write journal pages recording simple information about the animals, completed pages are stapled together, and students create clay representations of their selected animals. In the final report, students use facts they have researched to create and share original riddles about selected animals.

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From Theory to Practice

In her book The Writing Workshop, Katie Wood Ray reflects on what it means to be a writer: "I think it comes down to the essential nature of writing. Writing is something that you do, not something that you know, and when you think about it, that is an incredibly important understanding for us to have as teachers of writing." (30)

Ralph Fletcher and JoAnn Portalupi, in the introduction to their book Writing Workshop, stress the importance of the following factors for our students to become effective writers:

  • that students see themselves as writers,

  • that they develop a genuine feel for writing-its power and purpose, and

  • that they have a strong sense of audience-of real, interested readers. (x-xi)

This lessons gives three examples of reports that can be written by kindergarten students and other emergent readers and writers that will allow them to "do" writing and see themselves as writers with information to share with an interested audience.

Further Reading

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

Report 1: Documentation of a Science Exploration
Example: An Apple Report

  • Each student will need to bring an apple from home, or the teacher should provide each child with an apple to examine and work with.

  • Unifix cubes

  • Balances

  • String and scissors

  • Apple report forms

  • Pencils and crayons

  • Books to enrich this project might include

    • The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall

    • Pick Me An Apple! From Seed to Tree by Shelly Rotner

    • An Apple a Day by Melvin Berger

    • Growing Apples and Pumpkins by Amy and Richard Hutchings

    • The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree by Gail Gibbons

    • Johnny Appleseed by Madeline Olsen

    • I Am an Apple by Jean Marzollo

  • Bookmarked Websites

Report 2: Picture Journaling
Example: An Animal Report

  • A rich variety of nonfiction picture books about many different animals. Such books might include the following:

    • My Big Big Book of Animals by Barbara Taylor

    • My First Book of Nature: How Living Things Grow by Dwight Kuhn

    • My First Book of Animals: From A to Z—More than 150 Animals Every Child Should Know by Christopher Egan, Lorraine Hopping Egan, Thomas Campbell Jackson, and Diane Molleson

    • ZooBooks published by Wildlife Education, Ltd.

    • Scholastic's Rookie Read-About Science sets

    • Books from the Life Cycles Set or the World of Animals Set published by Newbridge

    • First Discovery Books published by Scholastic

    • What's Inside? Books published by Scholastic

    • First Facts Books published by KidsBooks Incorporated

    • The Magic School Bus series of books by Joanna Cole

    • Reading Discovery Books by Carolyn MacLulich published by Scholastic

    • The Milk Makers by Gail Gibbon

    • Science for Emergent Readers series from Scholastic

  • Videos about animals, such as the following:

    • Nature Series videos, especially the "A First Look" series distributed by Diamond Entertainment Corporation

    • National Geographic Kids video series, especially the "Really Wild Animals" sets narrated by Dudley Moore

  • Bookmarked Websites about animals

  • (optional) Animal Inquiry Map

  • General writing supplies (pencils, markers, crayons, colored pencils, etc.)

  • Clay

  • A chart tablet and marker

  • Journals: one per student developed from the questions the children decide their reports should answer. (Make extra copies of each page for children that want to revise their first attempts.)

  • One writing file folder per student during the drafting and writing process.

Report 3: Riddle Writing Combined with Art Productions
Example: Turning Animal Reports into Riddles

  • A rich variety of nonfiction picture books about many different animals

  • Videos about animals

  • Bookmarked Websites about animals

  • Blank sheets of paper to take notes

  • 9 X 12 inch sheets of construction paper in a variety of colors

  • Art supplies: markers, paint, clay, construction paper in an assortment of colors, tissue paper, etc.

  • Computer for word processing, printer, and paper

  • Upper grade study buddies

  • Riddle Books, such as the following:

    • Animal Q & A: Whose Baby Am I? by Shirley Greenway

    • Where Am I?: Learning Riddles by Peter Ziebel

    • It Begins with an A by Stephanie Calmenson

    • What Am I? by N. N. Charles

    • Set 1: Little Riddles by Educational Insights: riddle cards with 4 clues and the pictured answer on the back




Report 1: Documentation of a Science Exploration
Example: An Apple Report

  • This report is designed as a concluding activity to a theme exploration on the life cycle of apple trees or a study of apple trees during the four seasons of the year.

  • Gather all materials.

  • Make copies of the report form.

  • Either make a chart or overhead of the Five Senses.

Report 2: Picture Journaling
Example: An Animal Report

  • Assemble all supplies.

  • This report is designed as a concluding activity to a theme exploration of living things.

  • Head the chart tablet with: What We Wonder About and Want to Know About Animals.

  • Bookmark the Websites.

  • Prepare a letter to parents telling them about the project and inviting them to help their children find sources of information and learn more about their chosen animals.

  • Set up a time for the upper-grade study buddies to meet with your class during 1-3 sessions.

  • Assemble file folders labeled with each student's name and arrange for a place to store them.

  • Prepare journal pages once questions decided by students.

Report 3: Riddle Writing Combined with Art Productions
Example: Turning Animal Reports into Riddles

  • Assemble all supplies.

  • This project is designed to follow a theme exploration of living things. I have used riddle writing both as an extension of the animal reports documented above and as an alternative to the journal reports.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • participate in research.

  • record their discoveries.

  • share their information (reports) with others.

Report 1: Documentation of a Science Exploration

Example: An Apple Report

  1. Students may work alone, in pairs, or in small groups to do their explorations and record their findings in this report. Each student will need an apple.

  2. Each student will need a copy of the report form.

  3. Read through the reporting form with the students. Refer to the Five Senses chart to review how we learn about things through our five senses. They will be using all five senses: seeing the apple, touching (and measuring the apple), smelling it, tasting it, and hearing the crunch as they bite into it. They will record the color they see and a picture of the apple, the measurements they take, and the way the apple tastes.

  4. Using the Vermont Apples Website, have students try to identify their apples by variety.

  5. The students can then report their discoveries by sharing their reports with other members of the class, with other people in your school, and with their parents when they take their reports home. These reports could also be set up at an educational fair for students to share both their reports and their process of exploration.

Report 2: Picture Journaling

Example: An Animal Report

  1. Introduce your students to the nonfiction picture books you have assembled. Take picture walks through a sample of the books you have collected. Encourage the students to browse through the books to decide what animal they wish to choose for further research as the topic of their reports.

  2. Assemble the children around the chart tablet labeled: What We Wonder About and Want to Know About Animals. Brainstorm with the children some things that they want to learn about their animals. Then star the items that are general enough to include all of the chosen animals that will be researched. (Our lists usually include: what the animal looks like, what it looked like when it was a baby, where its home is, and what it eats.)

  3. Prepare journal pages to address those topics. I use the pictures and page numbers so they can make connections between themselves and their animals. For instance on a sheet labeled "My animal lives ____" I would include a picture of a house).

  4. Send the information about this project home to parents, inviting them to help their children assemble information and learn about their chosen animals. You might also include a trip to the school or community library to seek out additional books for them to use in researching their animals.

  5. Once each child has chosen several books, arrange for upper grade study buddies to come and read to your students. Two 20-minute periods usually work best. Then have your students draw and write about what they learned on their journals pages. Encourage them to write about what they have drawn. (Children may dictate, label, or write about their pictures.)

  6. It may work well to have the computer center in your room set up with the bookmarked Websites about animals, or you may want to go to the computer lab to provide better access for this resource.

  7. You may also have videos that the children can access.

  8. As students complete the pages of their reports, they add them to their file folders. When all pages are completed, each student's journal is stapled together.

  9. Students then make a clay representation of their animals.

  10. Return to your chart: What We Wonder About and Want to Know About Animals. Have students share informally what they learned from their research and record in a section entitled: What We Learned About Animals. Encourage students to dialogue and do some comparing and contrasting of their chosen animals.

  11. If desired, use the Animal Inquiry Map to explore students ideas and findings.

  12. Students share their reports with one another, other classes, their parents during conferences or an open house, and/or at an educational fair.

Report 3: Riddle Writing Combined with Art Productions

Example: Turning Animal Reports into Riddles

  1. Introduce your students to the nonfiction picture books you have assembled. Take picture walks through a sample of the books you have collected. Encourge the students to browse through the books to decide what animal they wish to choose for further research as the topic of their reports.

  2. Once an animal has been chosen, the students need time to research their animals. It may be helpful to meet with upper-grade study buddies to help the kindergartners read their books, review computer sites, or view videos about their animals. The students should be directed to find 3-5 interesting facts about their animals. They may record what they learn on blank sheets of paper.

  3. Introduce the riddle books and cards:

    • Share the riddles.

    • Discuss what makes good clues: giving you enough information to allow others to make a good guess without telling them the answer.

    • Model writing clues about animals (Choose animals that no one has chosen for their own riddle reports.)

    • Practice writing riddles as a group.
  4. Direct the children to look at their animal journals or the information they have collected about their animals and think about the clues they want to use in their own riddles.

  5. Meet with one student at a time at the computer. They dictate their clues while you type them and print them out. (I do this during learning center time.)

  6. The children share their clues with one another. Some of the students may discover that their clues are too general. They should be encouraged to revise their clues and print out new ones. They may also try these out on friends to see if they are better.

  7. When everyone has their list of clues typed in large print on 9 X 5 inch sheets of computer paper, assemble the riddles:

    • Each student chooses a 9 X 12 inch of colored construction paper and folds it in half in a hamburger fold (9 X 6).

    • Glue their clues on the front side (fold is at the top).

    • Open the card and have the students draw a picture of their animal inside. Each student should label the picture with the animal's name.

    • Each student then makes an art production of their animal using any of the supplies listed above. Remind them to make their pictures look as much like their animal as possible.

    • Display these riddles. Surround the riddles with the art productions, but do not put the riddles beside their matching art. (We displayed ours in the hallway outside of our classroom. As other students came down the hallway, they would stop and read the riddles, guess the answers, flip open the cards to see if their guesses were correct, and find the art that represented that animal.)

    • We created this display for our educational fair. This can be combined with the animal journals and clay reproductions. After looking at the riddles, guests can come into the classroom and hear the students tell about their animals, show their journals, and show their clay representation and any other artifacts they have collected about their animals.

Examples of Animal Riddles

  1. My animal is a pet that lives in a house with us and sleeps in a basket.

  2. Its babies are called kittens, and they drink milk from their mother. They are born alive from their mother's body.

  3. It eats special food we buy for it, but once it caught and ate a mouse.

  4. It needs shots and goes to the vet when it is sick.

    Can you guess my animal?

  1. My animal lives on a farm.

  2. Its babies are called calves.

  3. It eats grass in the pasture when the weather is nice, but lives in the barn and eats grain and hay in the winter.

  4. It gives milk that the farmer sells to the dairy. When the milk leaves the dairy, it goes to stores so we can buy it and take it home.

    Can you guess my animal?


Student Assessment / Reflections

Students should be taught to self-assess through the use of a rubric. The student and the teacher conference together to score the rubric.

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