I know that we're all different when it comes to teaching students how to write. I always start off by giving students lined paper (yes, from the very first day). If you do it differently - all the power to you - this isn't the place or forum to try to convince me to do it another way. I know that writing develops and some people start with blank paper, but I always make writing fun and let students explore paper with lines from the start. I do a lot of modeled and interactive writing and let students "explore" writing on the page. Some students will actually use the lines on their first attempt while others are all over the place. It's all ok in the beginning! :)
One of the first lessons I teach comes from Lucy Calkins (after a few days of exploring writing on their own) is this one:
***I teach students how to use the guide lines by making a squiggle story.
I tell a basic story and model how to use the lines to write a story from left to right.***
I say something like: It was raining...the rain came down really hard. (draw vertical lines). Then it stopped so I walked to the park (draw dashed lines). A dog barked so I got scared and ran really fast (wiggle lines). Then I saw a bee. It buzzed around and around (swirly lines). When I get to the end of the line I make a big deal about wanting to tell what happened next and then I teach the "return sweep" and how to use the bottom line to keep telling the story. (RETURN SWEEP). Then I walked some more (dashed lines). I had to walk through really tall grass (tall lines). Then I saw a rabbit hopping (bouncy lines). I was happy - the end (period).
After doing a story like this students will write stories with squiggles and lines on the writing lines. It's amazing how fast they pick it up. Later, we'll work on adding letters and labels into our writing. I usually take dictation and write it on the worm-line so that I can share student stories with parents and remember what all the squiggles mean.
If you would like to grab this Journal cover and pages (Cover, 15 pages, blank back cover) you can get it from my Google Drive.