Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Writing Experiences

Writing is an important literacy skill and it takes on many preliteracy forms - from scribbing to coloring to the first attempts at writing letters. Using symbols to represent letter names, sounds, and eventually putting them together as words is a complex cogntivie and fine motor skill. The more experience - and fun - a young child has with writing, the easier it may be for her to eventually master the skill of writing in school.

Keeping crayons and paper around the house to draw, scribble, and write with are just the beginning. Include your child when you're writing a to-do list, a check, or a thank you letter. Talk about what you are doing and let them see you write. Encourage writing as part of pretend play. A child can scribble a list of ingredients to "buy" at the store, write your "order" down while playing waiter at a restaurant, or write a letter to mail to Grandma. Even toddlers can journal! Reuse paper grocery sacks by letting your toddler draw "what happened today" on the sack. Cut them into smaller pieces and tie them together with yarn to create a journal or book of your child's creations.

Here are a few books to inspire writing experiences with a small child:

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson (Harper, 1955)

The classic imaginative tale about Harold, who heads out into the moonlight for adventures with his purple crayon. After reading this one, take your own purple crayon adventure with your child! A great inspiration for ending boredom.

A Piece of Chalk by Jennifer A. Ericsson (Roaring Brook Press, 2007)

A little girl makes a chalk drawing outside of her home until the rain comes along and changes the image into something she can still enjoy. Read this one right before heading outdoors with the children to create their own masterpieces.

Duck's Tale by Harmen van Straaten, translated by Marianne Martens (North-South Books, 2007)

"When Toad finds some reading glasses and Duck finds a pen, they also acquire some skills they never knew they had." For older picture book readers and beginning writers - a great story about friendship and collaboration.

Go to Bed, Monster! by Natasha Wing (Harcourt, 2007)

"Trying to avoid bedtime, Lucy uses her imagination and some crayons to draw a monster to play with." A fun story to inspire drawing. At a library conference I recently attended, another children's librarian suggested also writing the monster's exclamations (Chase! Hungry! Potty!) as you read the story out loud.

My Crayons Talk by Patricia Hubbard (H. Holt, 1996)

"Brown crayon sings "Play, Mud pie day," and Blue crayon calls "Sky, Swing so high" in this story about talking crayons." This is a lively picture book for encouraging writing, drawing, and talking about language.

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