ELA K-5: Connecting Writing to Play


K.2: Connecting Writing to Play

This unit was taught as our second unit of the year, starting at the beginning of October 2015. This is the first writing experience for many Kindergarten students. This unit engages students in writing by encouraging them to write (use spelling strategies, write in meaningful ways) during play centers. Students connect writing to play in a variety of centers by making lists, songs, letters, labels, and signs using beginning, middle, and ending sounds to increase the level of clear communication of that writing. Teachers should note that this task will look different at different points of the year as student writing develops along the continuum of writing development.


We evaluated student work based on the following criteria and standards:

  • I can use spelling strategies to write words (L.K.2c and d).

  • I can understand the purpose of my writing.

  • I can remember what I’ve written (RF.K.1b).

  • I can write my letters correctly (L.K.1a).

Student work was collected throughout the unit, not during one specific day or task, as students were able to connect writing to play over many days. Some of the student work annotations refer to information that was gathered from conferring with students, so it may not directly show in student work. Before this unit, students learned how to tell stories orally and were encouraged, not expected, to use writing to express their ideas. Throughout the year they are instructed in small guided reading/phonics groups every day to support reading strategies and spelling development. Following this unit, students participated in shared research and shared writing on a non-fiction topic. 

We noticed some positive trends and struggles within the student work:

Positive Trends:

  • The majority of students were forming letters correctly.

  • Some students who were unable to use spelling strategies in their writing were able to remember their writing which indicates they were making meaning of their writing. 

  • Some students were enthusiastic about using writing in their play, i.e. writing an order for the restaurant center, writing a letter to a friend.

  • The following centers such as the doctor, restaurant, music, and post office were more interactive, which led to more meaningful writing.


  • Some students did not initiate writing in their play (this could be due to the nature of the particular center being not as interactive).

  • Some of the writing in centers was not meaningful or not connected to play, i.e. student used song paper to make a sign instead of songwriting. 

  • Some students needed teacher support to generate ideas for writing in their centers, i.e. “Can you write a sign for the restaurant?” or “Can you write a list of the patient’s symptoms at the doctor’s office?”.

  • Some students struggled to use appropriate letters to match sounds in their writing (in part because this unit was done at the beginning of the year with this being many of the students’ first experience with writing letters/words).

We also noticed trends with some students’ linguistic challenges:

  • Students with language-based disabilities or ELLs may struggle to:  

  • Keep track of the names of different types of writing.

  • Understand the purpose for those different types of writing.

  • Remember and reread their writing.

  • Engage with others in play (i.e. take an order of a friend in the restaurant center or collaborate to write a song with a friend).