Generating Writing Ideas

Teaching kindergarten sweeties to write can be overwhelming to say the least. Planning mini-lessons that focus on the elements found in good writing help my students develop into good writers as the year goes on. One of the very first elements I focus on is Main Idea. Below is a mini-lesson I do that focuses on teaching main idea to kindergarten students so that they learn to associate individual concepts with a larger concept. The main idea for this mini-lesson is Beach but you can make it work for anything.

Draw 2 circle maps on the board or on poster board. In the middle of one, write Beach and on the other write Not at Beach. I draw mine beforehand so I just have to pull them out when it's time.

Take your stack of picture cards and mix them up.  Show pictures one at a time and have students decide if the item belongs at the beach or not.  Have students come up and place the picture on the circle map where it belongs.  

As a follow up, I give students a circle map and have them draw pictures that relate to the main idea of School.

You can click here to download the blank circle map and picture cards for this mini-lesson. 

A big thank you to Jeannie for having me today!  I hope you'll come by and visit me at The Kindergarten Center.


  1. Excellent post! Thanks so much!

    Lori (
    Teaching With Love and Laughter

  2. What a great way to get beginning writers to organize their thoughts for writing! Thanks for sharing! :)

    Learning Is Something to Treasure

  3. Amy - thanks for a fantastic post. We use thinking maps in our school too and the circle map is the one we use most often with our kinders. I love how you use them with concept sorting - great use of vocabulary - really high level thinking for our kiddos!


  4. Thanks for having me Jeannie!!! Thinking maps are wonderful aren't they??? It's amazing how well kinders can develop their writing from using them as a pre-writing tool.

  5. I totally agree Amy -- simplicity is the key to allow what's inside their heads come out - just enough to give a framework..... and I love how you used beach/not at the beach.....and then one for school......

    I'm totally thinking of school/not at school for beginning of year procedures....this is what we can do at school.....this is what we can do when we are not at school :0) hahahahaha!!

  6. Leda.mcgaha@bullitt.kyschools.usJune 8, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    This looks great! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Great post! I love how easy the idea is to implement because teaching main idea can be a difficult idea to grasp for many students.

    Thinking Out Loud

  8. Thanks so much for sharing! I love the idea of using the thinking map for the main ideas about school. This will go perfectly with a few of my beginning of the year units. Thanks again! :)

    Lil' Country Kindergarten

  9. Thank you for sharing this idea...I think it will work very well with my kiddos!