Setting Purpose: Words and Handwriting | EL Education Curriculum

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Setting Purpose: Words and Handwriting

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Daily Learning Targets

  • Opening A: I can listen to the story "The Search for Names" and make connections to what I'm learning.
  • Work Time A: I can tell what I notice about the letters in my name.
    • I can explain the connection between words and letters.
  • Work Time B: I can make curved and straight lines with my hands in the air and on handwriting paper.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Observe students during Opening A. Determine whether they can make connections between the message in the story (everything has a name) and their learning (words/names can be written and read).
  • Observe students during Work Time A and B. Determine whether they can go from the top down while making curved and straight lines in the air and on handwriting paper.



1. Opening (5 minutes)

A. Read-aloud: "The Search for Names" (Part 3)

2. Work Time (10-15 minutes)

A. Skywriting: Curved and Straight Lines

B. Introducing Handwriting Paper

3. Closing and Assessment (2 minutes)

A. Reflecting on Learning

4. Independent Work Time (40-45 minutes)

In Advance

  • Prepare the enlarged handwriting paper (to display).
  • Gather materials for independent work rotations (see Independent Work Time).


Key: Lesson-Specific Vocabulary (L); Text-Specific Vocabulary (T)

  • letter, name, word (L)


  • Picture of a teapot (from Lesson 1)
  • Story: "The Search for Names" (Part 3) (one for teacher use; from Lesson 1)
  • Student Name Cards (from Lessons 1 and 2)
  • Enlarged handwriting paper (to display)
  • Handwriting paper (one per student)
  • Writing utensils (one per student; optional)


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Read-aloud: "The Search for Names" (Part 3)

  • (Suggested transition song, "I'm a Little Teapot"):

"I'm a little teapot, short and stout. Here is my handle. Here is my spout. When I get all steamed up, hear me shout. Just tip me over and pour me out."

  • Begin the read-aloud:

1. Teacher shows the picture of a teapot and says: "When we say the word 'teapot,' we all know what it is. We get a picture in our minds. It might look something like this. When we say the word _____ (insert a student's name), we can all picture _____ (student's name). Yesterday, we read the second part of the story: 'The Search for Names.' The story ended with Anak and Watota falling asleep and having a dream. I wonder what that has to do with words."

2. Teacher asks:

"What do you think they dreamed of?" (Answers will vary.)

3. Teacher reads the Story: "The Search for Names" (Part 3) once or twice with expression while students listen.

4. Teacher asks one or more of the following suggested questions:

"What did the children dream about?" (the man who lived in the tree, Jeffi)

"What did Jeffi ask them to do?" (go out and find the secrets the stars have placed in all things)

"What do you think the secret is that the stars placed in all things?" 

"Which word do you think best describes Anak and Watota? Brave, scared, or kind? What makes you think that?"

"Does anyone have a different word you would use to describe Anak and Watota? Why did you pick that word?"

5. Teacher says: "I wonder what animal Anak and Watota will find first, and I wonder what words they will use to tell Jeffi about it. Maybe we'll find out more another day!"

  • Consider using movements and comments to support students' understanding of unfamiliar vocabulary or ideas in the story. Example:
    • Where it says, "The knocked on the door in the trunk and it creaked open," consider knocking on the wall and making a creaking noise while miming opening a door.  

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Skywriting: Curved and Straight Lines

  • (Suggested transition song: "ABC Song," sung to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"):

"A b c d e f g (pause) h i j k l m n o p (pause) q r s (pause) t u v (pause) w x (pause) y and z. These are the letters we use to read and write. (pause) Let's get to know them by sound and by sight."

  • Introduce the Skywriting instructional practice:

1. Teacher writes his or her name on the board.

2. Teacher looks carefully at the name and reminds students that it is made of letters. Teacher counts the number of letters in it.

3. Teacher says: "Let's look carefully at the shape of these letters."

4. Teacher notices curves and straight lines in the letters in his or her name.

5. Teacher invites one or two volunteers to come up and find a straight line in a letter in the name.

6. Teacher invites students to skywrite a straight line by extending their arms up and out and pulling straight down.

7. Teacher invites one or two volunteers to come up and find a curved line in a letter in the name.

8. Teacher invites students to skywrite a curved line by extending their arms up and out and curving it around and down, first in one direction, then in another.

9. Teacher invites students to notice any other types of lines or shapes they see in the name and invites students to skywrite those lines or shapes.

10. Teacher distributes Student Name Cards.

11. Teacher invites students to turn to an elbow partner to describe the lines and shapes they see in their names.

12. If time allows, teacher invites two or three volunteers to come up and show a curved and/or straight line in their name while other students skywrite the line.  

  • Students might also make curved and straight lines on a partner's back.

B. Introducing Handwriting Paper

  • Introduce the Handwriting Paper instructional practice:

1. Teacher says: "We noticed that some of the letters in our names have straight lines, some have curved lines, and some have both."

2. Teacher explains that soon they will meet letters and learn how to write them by using an important material called "handwriting paper."

3. Teacher displays Enlarged handwriting paper and invites students to share what they notice. (lines, a mouse)

4. Teacher guides students to notice the "head line" while pointing to the mouse's head and the top line.

5. Teacher invites students to stand and point to their own heads.

6. Teacher guides students to notice the "belly line" while pointing to the mouse's belly and the middle line.

7. Teacher invites students to point to their own bellies.

8. Teacher repeats these steps for the "feet line" and the "tail line" (inviting students to point to somewhere "under" their feet).

9. Teacher distributes handwriting paper and invites students to make curved, straight, zigzag, or other types of lines, staying in between the "head line" and the "feet line" with their fingers or writing utensils.

Closing & Assessments


A. Reflecting on Learning

  • Before moving to Independent Work Time, consider asking one of the following questions or giving one of the following prompts:

"Who can show me a written word somewhere in the classroom? What do you know about that word?" (Responses will vary.)

"Which of these words names how you will be during Independent Work Time today? Kind, patient, careful, respectful ..." (Responses will vary. Consider providing other specific words to choose from according to identified habits of character.)

"What will you do today during Independent Work Time that will allow you and your classmates to be successful?" (Responses will vary. Examples: "use kind language," "be careful with materials," "take turns.")

Independent Work Time

Suggested Plan: This first cycle provides time for students to practice what it means to work independently. A brief introduction is made to materials, and expectations for work habits and social interactions are established.

Note: Three suggestions for independent activities are given. Consider using any or all of these. For example, you may want to have all students working on the same activity, or you may want to have two or three activities happening simultaneously for a set time and then rotate students through. By Cycle 2, groups not working with the teacher at a given time should be engaged in purposeful independent rotation work. Refer to the Independent and Small Group Work guidance document (see K-2 Skills Resource Manual) for more details.

Book Browsing:

  • Students spend time looking at their own individual book(s).

Word Work:

  • Students practice working with the handwriting paper, making different types of lines and/or shapes on the handwriting paper anywhere between the head line and the feet line. They might make circles, straight lines, zigzags, or curves.
  • Additional Supporting Materials:
    • Handwriting paper (one per student, from whole group lesson)
    • Writing utensils

Responding to Text:

  • Students draw a picture to show what they heard in the story: "The Search for Names" (Part 3). They should include some details from the story.
  • The pictures can be displayed in the classroom.
  • Additional Supporting Materials:
    • Blank paper and drawing supplies

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