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Friday, February 24, 2012

Writing Tips For Preschoolers

I am sharing my thoughts as a part of the Superb Writers’ Blogathon. In partnership with Grammarly grammar checker, this series is bringing helpful hints to aspiring writers.

February at Literacy Launchpad has been author study month! We’ve been reading all the Mo Willems we can get our hands on, and thinking like authors ourselves!

I’m sure it’s not news to any of you reading this that reading and writing skills are linked. But as an early childhood educator, I have a tendency to lean much more heavily into the reading side of literacy when I’m teaching. I really need to be giving proper attention to writing as well.

To get my writing teacher juices flowing this week, I hit the juvenille non-fiction shelves on our weekly trip to the library and brought home a stack of writing books to flip through and get inspired!*

Here are some of the tips I brushed up on and how you might translate them to writing with little writers:

  • Read! - We’ve all heard this over and over: if you want to be a good writer, you must read plenty of books. All kinds of books!
For preschool writers: Read books with your little kiddos through the eyes of a writer. Before, during, and after you read a book, wonder aloud about why the author might have written it, things you like about the story, or how you might have written the ending differently.
  • Find a writing space - Have a place to work that allows you to focus, while also fostering your creativity.
For preschool writers: Create a writing center for them. Need some inspiration and ideas for a writing center? Look HERE!

  • Look for Ideas - Carry a notebook or pad with you at all times and jot your ideas down as they pop into your head. Ask yourself “what-if” questions to get the juices flowing. Become an observer of the people and places that surround you each day; take notes, notice details.
For preschool writers: My preschooler has been coming up with all kinds of ideas for stories lately and it all started with me simply suggesting we make a book about some silly little thing that happened one day. Now he sees story ideas everywhere! I really need to get a notepad to write these down on - more writing modeling and practicing!

  • Make sure you have solid structure to all the elements of your story: good beginning and end, interesting characters, plenty of action (things happening).
For preschool writers: I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on this right now. Just get them writing (or pretend writing). They can even dictate to you and have you write things down for them. My son likes to have me write words and then he copies them

  • Practice! Practice! - The only way to get better at something is to do it lots and lots. Write everyday! What they say is true: practice makes perfect!

For preschool writers: I think I have mentioned before an idea I saw once about instituting a “Read O’Clock” time at your house each day? Perhaps there could be a Write O’Clock time too? Even to just have writing materials always readily available to your child is extremely valuable in fostering those early literacy skills. Go to the office supply store and buy some irresistible writing tools; think of all those fun office supplies they always want to play with at your office!

  • Rewrite - Keep working, and working, and working your story/article/poem till it’s right.
For preschool writers: Little kids have little attention spans. Let your child start a story in their writing center one day, and then come back to work on it more another day. Perhaps have a blank book that they complete a page in each day, or each week. Do some journaling! Let them revise and make changes as they please (we all know how fickle preschoolers can sometimes be). Just let them have fun with it!

  • Be specific - Use beautiful details and descriptions in your writing

For preschool writers: As a parent or teacher, model new vocabulary for them. Point out the descriptive words in the books you read. If they are “writing” a story with you, ask them questions about what they dictate to you (“What color was the dress she was wearing?”) and add those details to the text of their story.

Early writing practice can occur in many different ways, shapes, and forms:
  • Letting your child draw illustrations for a book, and then describe his pictures to you as you write in the text.
  • Letting your child practice tracing letters, or engage in some other kind of basic, tactile activity to practice writing their letters.
  • Making a list together
  • Writing a letter to grandma
  • Letting them scribble to their hearts delight - that’s how writing begins!
  • Giving them rubber alphabet stamps to create with
  • Letting them trace letter and words
  • Writing alphabet letters in sand, fingerprints, shaving cream, play dough...

Children can (and should) be practicing their pre-writing skills right along with practicing their pre-reading skills.

Click HERE to check out some picture books about writing!

Use these FREE word bubble printables to add some extra fun to your writing center!

Here's some other fun stuff to use with your little writers:

*What books did I use from the library? So glad you asked!

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