Posts Tagged ‘writing’
How Will We Get to the Beach by Brigitte Luciani, illustrated by Eve Tharlet
This book may be a little more difficult to track down than last week’s book. My local library does not have this book, and I was not able to locate it on Scholastic’s website. But I did notice that it is available both new and used from Amazon. And also in Spanish. And also in paperback. All sorts of options there. Onward to the activities!
Real Mom Activity
Memory Tray Game: This is a simple memory and guessing exercise you can do with children of any age. All you need is some sort of tray like a cookie sheet and an assortment of objects. If you just wanted to use the table that would work too. Basically, you spread the items out, let your kids look at them and touch them for a minute or so, have everyone close their eyes, and then take one thing away. Then, they open their eyes and guess what you took. You can easily scale the difficulty of the game by having more or fewer items, by lengthening or shortening the time they explore the items, by changing or not changing the items every round, and by taking away more or fewer objects.
Supermom Mom Activity
Retelling the Story: Books with strong plot patterns are good choices to have children retell creatively. So get together the paper and crayons and markers and staples and stuff you’ll need to make a book. If you need more suggestions, I did a post on book writing that might help you. Then, help your kids think of 5 items and a place they’d like to take them. Brainstorm different modes of transportation together. Now it’s time to write the story again. Depending on the age of your child, you can write the story or caption the pictures she draws. If your child is older and interested, have him both illustrate and write a new story. Oh, and don’t forget to hide a ladybug on each page!
If you do this activity with your children, be sure to give them some sort of outlet to display their creativity. An authentic audience will nearly always help kids engage more deeply and creatively in their work. We would definitely like to see what your kids come up with, so share with us if you can. You can send us a link to your blog or email me a .pdf file to post. My kids are out of school for a few days next week, so I’m planning this activity for one of those days. I’ll report back on how things go.
I think that daily journal writing was the most detested part of my elementary school years. Oddly, I am not a horrible writer. I just hated journal writing. Honestly, I still don’t find journal writing to be a terribly inspiring pastime. So, it’s not surprising to me that lots of kids (and adults!) resist the idea of daily writing. However, it’s hard to argue with the valuable educational outcomes of writing. Barnabas Emenogu, summarizing current research on the benefits of writing in the early grades, concludes:
Amongst other things, I have suggested that a key benefit of getting elementary students to start writing early is that the amount of writing they do during their school years has a strong impact on the way they think, the amount they read, and the quality of their writing as adults. Motivating students to write in many forms for many reasons will enhance not only their achievement but quite possibly their life chances.
Just this summer, I again realized how much daily writing can help kids. I was amazed at the progress Dillon with our consistent (not daily) journal writing. It was definitely worth the pain it took to get the habit started. Daily journal writing remained somewhat challenging for both of us, but I reassured myself with this tidbit from The National Council of Teachers of English:
The “language arts” develop in concert. Drawing supports writing, writing supports reading; opportunity to use multiple expressions of language increases language learning and ability.
So, I feel pretty good that any kind of literacy activity contributes to the overall goal of developing reading and writing skills. With that in mind, I learned to be flexible about what constitutes a journal entry. After we spent a few weeks developing the basic concept of journal entries, I let the kids do different kinds of entries. You can easily search online and come up with all kinds of creative journal ideas, but here’s a few that have worked for us:
- lists of favorite or most disliked things
- free association activities
- acrostic name poems
- comic strip stories
- riddles and jokes
- sketches and explanations of inventions
As I mentioned in the video, two crucial components of a journal writing at our house are story paper and a decent list of writing prompts. I happen to like the calendar format of that link, but you can search online and find many excellent compilations of journal prompts for kids.
Now that school has started, I’ve slacked off a bit. I know that Dylan has daily writing in class, so I’ve kind of given myself a pass for now. However, if you need to help someone get over a hump in reading or writing, daily writing is almost certain to help. And making it fun, is going to help even more.
So do you have any great ideas for keeping journals with kids? Let us know, because it seems that keeping writing fresh and new is the best way to keep it going.
A customizable handwriting exercise is a valuable tool for parents. I would print out a sheet of my daughter’s name as big as I could. Then she could make a rainbow of her name by using a different color marker or crayon on each line. She preferred the fat washable markers because the lines were bold and easy for her to make. I guess I’m the one that preferred the washable aspect of the markers! As she mastered her first name, I reduced the font size and ultimately added in her last name.
Another easy way to get your child to practice name writing, is to encourage him to sign whatever artwork he produces. This reinforces the feelings of success and accomplishment when his work is done and is clearly another opportunity to practice spelling and producing his own name. Also, let them label things that are important such as books or toys or their lunch sack.
Sometimes when my kids saw me make a grocery list or watched me writing in my journal, they would want to join in. I tried to be as accommodating as possible and let them write their names on my stuff. It’s also a great idea to have them sign birthday cards or holiday cards for family members or write a picture “letter” to grandma that they can sign and then fax or send through the mail.
For easy reusable, practice, print your child’s name in as big a font as fits on one page. Use a simple font that is as close to basic handwriting as you can. Then slip the page in a clear plastic sheet protector that isn’t textured at all. With supervision, children can use dry erase markers to trace over their names. You’ll want to supervise because dry erase marker is really not very washable at all. But kids think the erasing is fun and it might be just the thing to get them engaged in practice. Also, erasing is easy with this activity. This can help minimize the frustration of making a mistake. If you keep this activity near the kitchen table, your child can practice writing her name while you’re making her lunch or snack.
Initially, writing anything is difficult for children, because fine motor skills are still developing. So anytime you can practice these skills in any form, you will also be improving name writing skills. So let your kids play with Play-doh, cut with safety scissors, draw and color with all kinds of writing instruments, and work with small manipulative toys. All these activities improve and refine hand strength and coordination.
Finally, you can practice writing names (or anything else) in sugar, flour, sand, shaving cream, dirt, mud, etc. A sensory activity like this will improve memory and often lengthen your child’s attention span for the activity. This activity lasts longest if you participate too. They love your attention!!
Correct your child’s letter formation and writing position (left to right, top to bottom) slowly over time as she gains confidence and the writing skill itself improves. Most of the time, these mistakes simply clear up over time with only a little direct correction.
Writing books can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. I think that simpler tends to work better most of the time. The core benefit of writing books with children is developing and practicing literacy skills and imagination. This should happen as often as possible. At my house, simple is most likely to happen often and complicated is most likely to happen on a day that mom is feeling really good about things. This is why my focus here is on writing books instead of making books.
However, sometimes it is important to make a book particularly special for a child. Be sure to always give plenty of encouragement, praise and reinforcement as children engage in the process of creating a book. Don’t focus on the end product as much as you focus on their efforts and growth. Also, look for ways to reduce frustration over the process.
How to encourage writing books:
- Have some pre-made blank books available to your children as part of their art supplies
- Write letters to family members about exciting things that happen in your day or week
- Prompt children to make up a silly or different ending for favorite book or movie
- Prompt children to follow the story patterns of favorite books or movies
- Use story paper
- Be willing to write the words for the books younger children illustrate
- Accept and encourage invented spelling with beginning writers
Here’s a .pdf of a book my son created one morning while I was sleeping in. He was 6 years old when he worked on this and it was one of the first times he did a book alone.
How do you get your kids involved in writing and storytelling?
More Ideas for Using Shaving Cream
Mix shaving cream with washable paints or washable finger paints and let children play with it in the bathtub. This is particularly helpful for children who may have trouble with feeling messy or difficulty tolerating textures. Children should always be monitored in the bathtub to prevent accidents.
If you have a plastic children’s picnic table, you can easily spray shaving cream directly on that surface and let kids play outside in the shade. Clean up is simple with a garden hose.
Allowing children to simply draw and experiment with designs and patterns will develop fine motor skills and coordination.
Early elementary age children can use shaving cream to practice:
- Spelling words
- Math facts
- Sight words
- Word families (-ock words, -ate words, etc.)
Preschool children can work on skills such as:
- Drawing shapes
- Learning letter names and sounds
- Recognizing numbers
- Name writing