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Say, Sketch, and Write

I did the writing on this chart, while Betsy Engel did the drawings. Many thanks to Betsy for allowing me to share this chart and her song in this forum.

One of the many charts I made, with the help of some wonderful Kindergarten teachers, while I was taking Kristi Mraz’s chart-making class at the July Writing Institute was a scaffold to get Kindergarten students ready to write an all-about book.  Betsy Engel, who will be teaching Kindergarten in Manhattan this-coming school year, shared a song called “Say, Sketch, and Write” with our small group.  This song, whose exact tune I can’t recall (more on that later in this post), reminds the youngest writers of the process they should go through before they attempt to get their words down on a page.

Why “say, sketch, and write?”  Well, first you want to encourage students to rehearse their writing.  Hence, you can encourage them to talk through or “say” their story to someone else.  Next, children are encouraged to “sketch” the parts on different pages of their stapled booklets.  Finally, once the writing is mapped out through the drawings, children can begin to “write” the words down that describe the sketches they drew.

You’ll notice there are sticky notes that run down the right side of the chart.  They have a purpose.  If you’re conferring with a student who has skipped part of the process, you can walk over to the chart with them, review it, and then give them one of the sticky notes to take back to their writing spot. For instance, if a child went from say to write, without sketching, you could confer into the importance of sketching as a way to get ready to write and then have him/her keep the “sketch” sticky note at their writing spot as a concrete reminder to do that step before they move on to writing. 

Kristi, the section leader, was walking around while everyone was creating charts on this particular day.  She noticed this one and Betsy sang her the “Say, Sketch, and Write” Song.  Kristi had a similar song, with similar words, to the tune of K.C. and the Sunshine Band’s “Shake Your Booty.”  That’s a tune nearly everyone knows, right?  If you’re considering creating a chart like this for the purpose of encouraging your students to get ready to write, then try putting the words on the chart to the tune of “Shake Your Booty.”  The lyrics could go like this:

Say, say, say-

Sketch, sketch, sketch-

Write your story,

Write your story.

Stacey Shubitz View All

I am a literacy consultant who focuses on writing workshop. I've been working with K-6 teachers and students since 2009. Prior to that, I was a fourth and fifth-grade teacher in New York City and Rhode Island.

I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).

I live in Central Pennsylvania with my husband and children. In my free time, I enjoy swimming, doing Pilates, cooking, baking, making ice cream, and reading novels.

7 thoughts on “Say, Sketch, and Write Leave a comment

  1. I like this chart and think it could be very useful. I’m wondering though if it should be Sketch, Say, Write? Many of my students need to start their picture before their words. They need to say the words to hear the sounds they will write. It’s seems like it would work better for my kids to switch it around. Thank you for sharing.


  2. What a cute and crafty idea. Children love to have songs to help them remember what to do. A great way to model the thought process of writing for young ones. I’ll share this with my K friends.


  3. Thanks for the great idea. It sparked me to make my own version to the tune of “Row, row, row, your boat”. I agree that it is a good process to teach in Kindergarten- just like pointing at words. Eventually most children will outgrow the need to sketch(point), but it is a useful strategy for the beginner.


  4. We do a very similar thing in my class. Tell it with your mouth,.with your pictures, with your words. We use lips, pics, and words. I like the song say, sketch and write…very catchy.


  5. A few questions come to mind after reading this entry. First, isn’t this similar to the trap some of us fell into when we were telling kids they had to brainstorm before they composed? Didn’t we come to the realization, long ago, that writing is a recursive process and not a linear process? How is telling kids that they “forgot” to “say” before “sketching” any different from that? Thanks for your responses.


    • Elisa:
      I understand your concerns. As with anything one teaches in workshop, it’s something for all students to try. Ultimately, we want to teach students multiple processes for writing so that they find a writing process that works for them.
      This chart is meant to be used in Kindergarten as a means to show students one way to get ready to write. As with anything we show children in the writing workshop, this will work for some kids and not for others. I’d only confer into this if a student were having trouble with writing and it would help him/her to go back and go through the steps. If a child were comfortable writing and didn’t need to go through the rehearsal step, or “say,” then there’d be no need to teach into that in the conference.
      Hope that clarifies my thinking,


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