We started the year doing a minimal amount of writing because he was reluctant and skeptical about his own abilities. Now that he has a better grasp of some basic phonics rules (we used Explode the Code 3 and just finished it) as well as some spelling rules (we use All About Spelling), he is in a better frame of mind to do some writing on his own. So.......about a month ago I gave him a spiral notebook to use as his journal. I have him write the date on a new page each day and require him to write at least two sentences about a topic of his choice. I often suggest ideas if he's stumped, but the thoughts he writes are strictly his own. If he needs help spelling words, I either help him sound it out, remind him of the rules he knows, or just write the word in a word box at the top of the page. Here is a recent entry he wrote about a Lego Universe he is building in his spare time.
In the top left corner you can see the box where I wrote "Lego Universe" and "vehicle". The next photo shows the sentences he wrote. I think he's doing a great job!! I can see I need to give a lesson on contractions soon, though!! :-)
In addition to writing in a journal each day, we have just started doing copywork each day. My first grader is reading Frog and Toad books now, a chapter each day. So.......I've been choosing one sentence from the chapter he reads for him to do as copywork. He just finished doing his Handwriting Without Tears book, so copywork is replacing that and this is one of his main ways to practice his handwriting. After he writes the sentence (you'll notice that I draw a line for each work with a red colored pencil to help him with spacing), we talk about various aspects such as, "What words are nouns?" (and he draws the Montessori noun symbol over them), "Why are these words capitalized?" or "Why is there a question mark?" With a simple conversation like this we are able to target several skills in a very short amount of time. Below is a photo of a recent copywork passage.