Entries from August 2008 ↓
August 5th, 2008 — Teaching Writing, WriteShop Primary
IT’S NEVER too early to introduce your young children to the joy of writing.
Even during the early elementary years (K-3), there’s so much you can do to model and encourage pre-writing and writing skills, such as reading aloud from quality picture books or asking your child to tell you about a picture he drew while you write down his words.
Early Writing Skills
Bear in mind that children develop at different rates. Fine-motor skills, like other stages of development, vary from child to child. Some budding writers, especially boys, will struggle with writing on a line, copying and forming letters, and putting their words and thoughts on paper. These skills and more come with time and patience.
The development of a young child’s writing is best achieved through:
- Plenty of time spent on writing activities.
- Many opportunities to write during the school day.
- Focused instruction that builds from your child’s efforts.
Your Child Needs YOU
Clearly, young children cannot learn to write on their own. Even if you create an atmosphere rich with educational materials—picture books, lined paper, colored markers, crayons, and an alphabet chart—it’s not enough. To effectively develop basic writing skills, your child needs YOU—along with your example, encouragement, and daily guidance.
This season in your child’s educational development is an opportune time to teach and model writing within a warm, safe environment. As you teach your primary-aged child to write, you’ll find that repetition, routine, and consistency play a vital role in teaching basic skills. There’s no way around it—your involvement with your child during writing sessions is key to his success!
Consider WriteShop Primary
If your child is in kindergarten, first, or second grade and you need some help guiding her writing along, consider WriteShop Primary Book A. It encourages and reinforces this special parent-child partnership young learners depend on.
The beauty of WriteShop Primary is its adaptablity to meet your needs. If your child is older, yet behind in her writing, you can utilize many components of the program but not use the activities that have a “younger” feel. You can challenge your older child to write more each step of the way, according to her ability, especially taking advantage of the “Flying Higher” suggestions and optional activities at the end of each lesson.
And for beginning students, WriteShop Primary can be used as more of a “pre-writing” launch pad. You can use the discussion starters and activites to introduce your very young child to the wonderful and exciting world of writing. Your younger children will delight in the crafts and illustrations, and you can prompt them to tell you the stories and writing projects that you then write down for them until they are ready to start writing letters and words (and eventually sentences) on their own.
August 2nd, 2008 — Poetry
From the archives—one of our most requested blog posts. Thought you might enjoy a midsummer poetry break!
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Cinquain: an unrhymed poem consisting of five lines arranged in a special way.
Spinning, whirling, twirling
Dances with neighbor Jupiter
A cinquain is an example of shape poetry. Because of the exact number of words required for each line of this poem, a unique, symmetrical shape is created from interesting, descriptive words.
The word cinquain comes from the Latin root for “five.” Notice that the cinquain has five lines that follow this sequence:
Line A: One vague or general one-word subject or topic.
Line B: Two vivid adjectives that describe the topic.
Line C: Three interesting “-ing” action verbs that fit the topic.
Line D: Four-word phrase that captures feeling about the topic.
Line E: A very specific term that explains Line A.
Here’s another example:
Preening, searching, stalking
Waits as if praying
Use the tips below to brainstorm on blank paper for different ideas. Then follow the directions to write your own beautiful cinquain. When possible, try to use poetic devices like alliteration, onomatopoeia, or personification. Because the poem has a limited number of words, choose each word carefully!
Word Pair Ideas (general/specific)
- bird/parrot (crow, canary, dove)
- fruit/apple (pear, banana, watermelon, peach, etc.)
- season/spring (summer/fall/autumn/winter)
- winter/January (spring/April, summer/July, autumn/October)
- candy/jawbreaker (Snickers, jelly beans, licorice)
- storm/tornado (hurricane, blizzard, squall)
- water/river (ocean, lake, stream, creek)
Line A: Name a general topic (see the suggestions above for some ideas).
Line E: Rename your topic, being more specific. (This will be the last line of your cinquain.)
Line B: Brainstorm 5-6 vivid, concrete adjectives to describe Topic E. Do not choose words that end in “-ing.”
Line C: Brainstorm 5-6 highly descriptive participles (verbs ending in “-ing”) that fit Topic E.
Line D: Brainstorm several four-word phrases that capture some feeling about Topic E. Follow these tips to develop an effective phrase:
- Do not use any “to be” verbs or vague words.
- Do not repeat any words used elsewhere in the cinquain.
- If you can’t think of something, try a combination of adjective + noun + verb + adverb to achieve the most concrete phrase possible.
Writing Your Cinquain
- Pick out your most descriptive words from your brainstorming and put your cinquain together.
- When you are satisfied, recopy the poem onto clean notebook paper.
- Center your cinquain on the paper.
- Begin each line with a capital letter, and remember your commas. Do not use ending punctuation.
- When finished, double-check for concreteness!
Line A. _______
Line B. _______ , _______
Line C. _______ , _______, _______
Line D. _______ _______ _______ _______
Line E. _______
Finally, when your children are all done with their cinquains, come back and post their poems in the comment section. We would love to see them!
Copyright © 2008 Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.