First Grade Writing Expectations & Samples

I never dreamed I’d be homeschooling my first grade student.  In fairness, I’m doing virtual school.  But my child only gets 30-60 minutes of instruction a day from the teacher, and the rest of her education falls on me.  In the last five weeks I have taken a crash course on everything from how to teach number bonds and improve letter reversal to how to teaching first graders science and Spanish.  Our dining room now mirrors a tiny first grade classroom, and I find myself up at night trying to find new ways to inspire learning and make it fun in the home.

I’m also blessed that her virtual first grade teacher is open to this being a true partnership in my child’s education.  If I have a question about what she should be learning or how to teach her, I quickly get feedback.  This is great considering how difficult it is to balance a full-time job, homeschooling, and trying to wade through pages and pages of state standards.

So for other parents out there with first grade students who are curious about where their child should be in their daily journal activities, I thought I’d share the advice I got this week from my daughter’s teacher during our fourth week of first grade.

Realistic Writing Expectations for First Grade

“So writing in 1st grade is the biggest struggle for the entire year.  I think that it is very important for them to just ‘think’ about the writing process. Right now, their illustrations are the main presentation because all they truly know how to do is draw a picture to show what they mean. They even do this in math.

“My goal for them right now is to just think about it. To talk about writing. To discuss what they want to write. Whatever the journal prompt is for the day, I want them to answer in 1-2 sentences.
However. I want them to answer it with CUPS in mind. This is the only skill they need to work on right now.

  • C: Capital
    Start with a capital letter.
  • U: Understand
    Can they understand what they wrote.
    For example, most first graders will say they want to write “The cat is black and fluffy,” but they will only write “The cat black. “
  • P: Punctuation.
    At the beginning of the year, we just do statements, but we will add questions and exclamations in soon.
  • S: Spacing
    Is their handwriting readable with space between words?

“I DO NOT correct their spelling, and I won’t. I may show them in another piece of paper how it’s spelled.  If they ask, I will spell it out for them.

“In class, we do a lot of guided writing.  Which means we come up with ideas together on the carpet. They ‘teach me’ how to write the ideas we come up with, and I start writing. I act like I’m 7 . I repeat the sentence and word, and they help me sound out words. Then, after we write it together, they do it in their journal.

“Writing is important. It teaches them how to put their thoughts and ideas down on paper. I hope this helps!”

First Grade Writing Samples

Below are a few of the journal activities my daughter has written in first grade that may give you ideas for how to get your little one writing, too.

First grade writing sample from journal prompts.

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Setting Realistic Writing Expectations for First Graders

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