A few years ago I read KidWriting by Eileen Feldgus and Isabel Cardonick. It shaped the way I teach writing to children in kindergarten and I wanted to share a few ideas with you.
Here is a picture of the chart we used on the first day. I used this when teaching junior and senior kindergarten combined. This means I had three year olds in my class. YES! They wrote in their journal on the first day too! As suggested in the book, I asked the little ones to raise their hand if they knew how to write. Many were cautious and many reluctant to raise their hand. I let them know before we started the lesson that ALL of them already DID know how to write and I was going to show them how!
First I show them straight line writing. I draw it on the chart and then encourage my kindergartens to follow with me using magic writing. We start at the left and draw a straight line in the air and make a dramatic "POOF!" for the period at the end. We continue progressing in difficulty through wiggly writing, zig zag writing, loopty loop writing, things that look like letters, letters that we know, listening for sounds and then grown up writing!
The children are then encouraged to head to the tables and write at a level that is appropriate for them. I remind them that if they can writing using sounds, it would be just CRAAAAZY to write using loopty loop writing, or if they can write using wiggly writing then WHY would they write using straight line writing... I punctuate this discussion with my best gasp for effect so that my kindergarteners try their best and I don't have someone who can write phonetically writing using zig zag writing.
This chart stays up all year on my writing board. We refer to it over and over again during writers workshop throughout the year.