Why Teach Prewriting to Elementary Students? 5 Prewriting Strategies to Improve Student Writing

I love teaching writing! One thing that I don’t love about teaching writing is when my students would say “But, I don’t know what to write about!” and then they would spend their independent writing time…. well… not writing. One thing that I have taught my students that really helped with eliminating the dreaded phrase was Pre-Writing! Prewriting is an essential part of the writing process, and teaching it to elementary students can have a significant impact on their writing skills. I would like to share with you 5 prewriting strategies to improve student writing.

Image of students writing.  Text: Why teach Prewriting to Elementary Students?  5 Prewriting Strategies to Improve Student Writing.

Prewriting Strategies #1: Talk About It

Pre-Writing is an activity that students do before they sit down to write their pieces. By giving your students some time to do some pre-writing you will help them to improve writing fluency, enhance their critical thinking skills, increase students writing confidence, and promote creativity! It helps your students to get ready to do their best writing!

Talk about it! This pre-writing strategy is by far the easiest. It can also be paired with any of the other strategies to make them more effective.

Image of 2 children talking on the phone and looking surprised!  Text: Talk About It!

Let your students talk about what they plan to write! Ask a student to help you model this strategy, so you can show your students what a “Pre-Writing Conversation” sounds like. Keep it short and sweet, and model how you would write down ideas so you don’t forget them when you go to write. Also, model the student sharing with you and the appropriate responses.

Talking to a partner or small group is a great way to get your students thinking about what they plan to write. Having your students talk to a partner or in a small group while they are filling out their pre-writing graphic organizer is an excellent way for students to share their ideas, get new ideas, and get excited about their writing! They may also get some help on words that they need to spell before they start! Using a timer to give them a set amount of time is always a good idea.

Or, turn it around…Give your students some time to fill out their pre-writing graphic organizer first. Then, have your students pair up or get into small groups and share their prewriting. This will help your students to add more ideas to the ones that they already have. Show your students how to ask questions to help their writer to clarify what they are planning to write about. This is a perfect way to find out what the audience wants to know about the Writer’s topic!

Prewriting Strategies #2: Draw a Picture

Prewriting is when your students spend some time planning and organizing before writing begins. One of the easiest and most effective pre-writing strategies is to let them draw it out!

Anytime you are teaching your students anything new to do with writing, it is always a good idea to model it for them, so they know what the strategy looks like. When modeling drawing a picture, make sure that you articulate what you are doing, and tell your story as you go. This drawing phase is not for creating a masterpiece, it is for getting your story ideas onto paper. Labeling the picture as it is being drawn will also help to spark ideas when your students go to write their actual draft. Having a drawing space on the paper that they are doing to do their writing on will cut back on the amount of paper used, and help eliminate lost paper.

Image of children's drawings with labels on prewriting graphic organizer paper.  Text: Draw it!

Pre-Writing Strategies #3: Brainstorming Web

Using a Brainstorming Web can help students organize their thoughts and ideas before writing.

A Brainstorming Web is simply ideas centered around a central topic. So, it usually looks like a circle in the middle of the page with a topic written in it. Then, lines or webs coming off the circle with ideas to go along with the topic.

Image of a story web in use.  Text: Web it!

This is a great way to get all of our ideas about the topic onto paper, then when you are ready to write, you choose which of the ideas on the web go best with your topic!

Prewriting Strategies #4: Story Map

Prewriting Promotes creativity it encourages students to think creatively and brainstorm different ideas for their writing. This can lead to more imaginative and engaging writing pieces. A story map is a great pre-writing strategy for students to “map out” their narrative story.

Image of 2 story maps. One with "lead" and one with "Hook".  Text says Map it!

A story map includes all of the story elements in narrative (story) writing. The students will jot down: a lead (or hook), characters, setting, problem, solution, and an ending. Then, when it is independent writing time, they take this map and write their story! If you have a Story Map graphic organizer, it makes this much easier, but you could just have them jot their ideas into the drawing space at the top of their draft writing paper.

Students would benefit from sharing this prewriting with a friend or small group to get ideas as well. They can jot down new ideas and then use them (or not) when they sit down to write.

Pre-Writing Strategies #5: Graphic Organizers

The prewriting process can help students to clarify their ideas, identify their audience, and determine the purpose of their writing. These skills are essential for effective communication and can help students to become confident writers.

Prewriting Strategy #5: Image of prewriting graphic organizers.  Text: Graphic Organizers.

Using a writing graphic organizer can make this process a little easier! Students just fill in the graphic organizer (by themselves, with a friend, with a small group, or whole class). Then, they have all of their ideas for their writing in one place when they are ready to write Different Graphic Organizers for different writing types are a great way to get your students to pre-write!

These Graphic Organizers for Writing go one step further and are on the page where the students will do their independent writing. No more lost writing graphic organizers! There are many different writing genres included: Narrative Writing, Opinion Writing, Compare and Contrast, and Non-Fiction Writing. You can check out all of the graphic organizers in this video:

Whichever Prewriting Strategy you use, your students will benefit! Pre-Writing improves writing fluency, enhances critical thinking skills, increases students writing confidence, and promotes creativity! I hope you found something in this post helpful! Pin the image below to keep the info for later!

Image of students' writing on a brainstoring web. Text: Why teach Prewriting to Elementary Students? 5 Prewriting Strategies to Improve Student Writing.

Thanks so much for reading! Happy Teaching,


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