Writing with your little ones

Most children are natural-born storytellers. They may not have much love for pencil and paper, but it’s not unusual for them to talk your ear off as they share about their day or weave a make-believe story about a blue bird named Monkey George who flew off to buy Band-Aids because he hurt his foot.

Your littles are learning—learning to use their ever-expanding vocabulary, hold pencils properly, and write letters, words, and simple sentences. They’re figuring out that there’s a relationship between spoken and written words.

Whether you choose to use an actual writing curriculum for kindergarten, first, or second grade, or just forge ahead on your own, there are simple activities you can do to foster a love of words and writing in your younger children. Here are three fun ones to get you started!

Write Little Notes

I still remember those sticky, wrinkled, crayon-scribbled notes my children used to write:  Deer mom I louv you so so much! 

To their delight, sometimes I’d stick a note under a pillow or in a pocket for them to find in return. Kids love getting those notes! Write them on index cards, scraps of notebook paper. or hearts cut from colored card stock. The medium doesn’t matter! Roll up flimsy notes and tie them with a piece of string or yarn and hide them in a pajama drawer. Slip sturdy flat ones under a door, into a coat pocket or library book, or under a dinner plate. 

Your children will feel so loved to fnd each special mini-letter! Piggyback on their enthusiasm by encouraging them to write little notes of their own and hide them for others to find. They’ll love it!

Narrate a Wordless Picture Book

Using a wordless picture book, your child can make up a story either orally or in writing to accompany the illustrations. If she can’t write well, let her tell her story as you write it down for her. Try some of these to get her started:

Use Story Starters

Not all children enjoy making up stories, but if they have the basic story elements in place—such as character, setting, and some sort of storyline or plot—they’ll often take right off. World of Animals and World of People StoryBuilders are perfect for this! The printable cards make great writing prompts and set kids off on a story-writing adventure with humorous or inspiring ideas like these:

  • A disobedient dinosaur finds a secret tunnel under the bed
  • A spunky spider plans a surprise in the grandfather clock
  • Disaster strikes while a clever inventor is at the library

Again, make a point of letting pre-writers or children with limited patience or vocabulary dictate to you while you write their words. You’ll get so much more from them if they don’t have to labor over the paper. Older or more skilled writers can tackle the writing on their own. You can even share the pencil and take turns writing parts of the story in round-robin fashion.

Above all, this early elementary age is the time to keep writing fun for your child—and these three simple suggestions will help you do just that.

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2 comments ↓

#1 Jimmie on 01.07.10 at 8:55 pm

Wonderful! Even the youngest learners can compose. From the earliest days of homeschooling, I had my daughter write expository things as well. She would talk it out, and I’d act as scribe, writing what she said. (My point is that little ones aren’t restricted only to narratives.)
We have this really fun wheel with three levels that has characters, a place, and a form of transportation. You spin the wheels and make a story with the items in a line. We spent many a long trip telling stories like that. My 10 year old STILL enjoys that, in fact.

#2 Kim on 01.07.10 at 10:07 pm

That wheel sounds like so much fun for a car trip. These ideas also make for fun bedtime stories.

I speak from experience, having had a reluctant son who was pretty much writing phobic. But he could spin a great yarn and responded really well to prompts. One of our favorite writing-across-the-curriculum ideas involved journal “writing” about different periods of history or other subjects we were studying. Because Ben struggled so much with writing, we did these journals orally. He hardly knew he was learning in the process!

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