getting kids to write: write around the room
Finding interesting and meaningful activities for Owen and Cora during Maddy’s homework time has kept me busy lately, but I’ve found tons of great things for these two to do. Finally, it’s a natural part of our day for everyone to sit down for ‘work time’ after snacks.
Recently, I pulled out an oldie but a goodie for Owen: Write Around The Room.
He loved it. Loooved it. And it’s really super simple. So we’ll certainly pull it out again this week or next.
Give a guy a clipboard, some paper, and a pen, and he’s happy. At least for a while.
- Write Around the Room: Write Around the Room is just that–giving kiddos the task of writing the words that they see in any room. It’s great for a classroom, where there’s a Word Wall, a huge calendar, and children’s work, posters, and signs, but it works just fine even at home. It’s funny what they can actually find in the rooms you spend so much time in every day.
And all kiddos need is some paper–Owen used his own personal notebook–and a pen. My kids love themselves a clipboard, so I clipped the notebook in, and Owen was ready to go!
Owen’s yellow notebook–one spot for all of his worktime efforts.
I said, Okay, today, Owen you can do a ‘Write Around the Room’ for your work time. Grab your notebook and a clipboard, a pen, and your detective eyes, and I’ll tell you how to do it.
He scrambled for his supplies, and when he found everything, I explained what to do: For a Write Around the Room, you do just that–you write the best words you can find around the room. But you need your strongest detective eyes so that you can pick out only the best words you can.
And once you find a word, you write it on your paper here. Your goal–and I’m not sure you can do this because 10 is pretty many words–but your goal is to find 10 words. Be sure to copy the letters exactly, and when you find them all, come back and we’ll read them together.
So he did. His words were found in our work room and in our living room, and he really did use his best detective eyes! He found words on the sides of boxes, on papers, and on our Wii!
When he was finished, we read them together. I wasn’t sure where he found some–but he was able to point them out. Although ‘en’ and ‘cdu’ were initials on boxes and a paper, he got the idea.
Owen’s Write Around the Room list. Number one word? Wii. Yikes.
And because Owen cannot decode the words himself at this point, he totally understands that a bunch of letters grouped together is a word–and that’s half the battle of reading!
Owen’s heading to Kindergarten next year (wah!), so he should be practicing his letters and some simple sight words at this point. Something as simple as Write Around the Room gets him moving, practicing his letter writing, and challenging his hand-eye coordination.
Although our goal for getting our kiddos to write is to find authentic writing experiences, something contrived like Write Around the Room is fine–it’s great!–to use as an activity to get them paying attention to the words around them because it’s sometimes a loooong journey from scribble to word.
According to the Continuum of Writing Development, writing mark levels include:
- scribble (even scribble has variations–all over the page, to scribbles in lines, to scribble in lines without detail, to scribble in lines with detail–really!)
- mock letters
- actual letters (rudimentary approximations)
- actual letters (closer approximations)
- actual letters (conventional)
The most common levels in the preschool years are levels 1-3, although some older preschoolers reach levels 4 and 5 (and there are always variations, remember!). Preschoolers can “often form best the letters in their names” possibly because they see this letter the most or because oftentimes they write that one letter to stand for their whole name. As for the other letters, preschoolers often compose letters without much care to their exactness. In fact,
. . . even though a few preschool children write letters that are fully conventional, this is the exception, not the rule. Forming letters conventionally requires fine motor skill beyond what is typical for most preschoolers, along with very detailed knowledge of letter features and how to combine lines to create these
from Schickedanz, J.A., & Casbergue, R.M. (2009). Assessing Writing Development in the Early Years. In Writing in Preschool (pp. 75-87). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
So what can we as parents do to support our little learners’ letter writing? We can help them develop their fine motor skills, practice their sweet names, and do a little early-writing practice. Or we can just continue reading, print referencing, and creating word conscious kids–everything we do helps, my friends. Really!
Many thanks to the above article and Duke, N.K., Purcell-Gates, V., Hall, L.A., & Tower, C. Authentic Literacy Activities for Developing Comprehension and Writing. The Reading Teacher, (2006, December) for information for this post.