Yep. Free-bird, outside, sun shining, wind blowing, bugs biting, markers marking, little artists working, fence writing.
- Fence Writing: I used the huge rolls of paper (that we have used for our Backyard Alphabet Hunt), and I pinned a few sheets vertically along our backyard fence.
I grabbed my box of bingo daubers, huge poster markers, and the container of a little bit of anything leftover (crayons, mixed markers, chalk pieces, you name it). After a long while of daubbing (dotting?) and free art, I tried to sneak in a bit of learning.
I put up a blank sheet on the fence for Maddy, and I wrote her name at the top. I said, Do you think you’d be able to write your name all the way down to the bottom of the fence? How many times could you write your name, now that you’re in Kindergarten?
She got started and didn’t stop until she wrote her name four times and was distracted by a ginormous mosquito on her leg. It was a start!
A closer look at our fence art
I asked Owen if he could make dots with the dauber in a complete circle, covering the ‘O’ in Owen and keeping the dots connected. I wanted him to work a little on his fine motor skills and to practice lining up his dots along “his letter”.
Then we worked on his name a few times, using the super-huge poster markers which we rarely use. Any opportunity to use new tools to practice names is usually exciting for emerging writers.
With Cora, I made big triangles and circles and asked her if she could fit as many dots as she could inside the shapes. Using the dauber is tough at first, but with some practice, she did fine. Then I made thick lines with the poster markers and asked her to make dots along the line. This was more tricky, but again, it’s working her little 2-year-old (and quickly developing) fine motor skills.
It was a fun bit of time spent between hitting the swings yet again, but by the time we were finished, the fence art looked beautiful.
And Maddy, Owen, and Cora had no idea how the change of pace–standing along the fence and using their bodies to center themselves, to use their whole arms to work on their writing, to use the large markers and daubers, and to use their imagination to create pictures of cars, flowers, clouds, and squiggles helped them develop the skills they’ll need to be successful down the road. They just thought it was new and fun.
“Writing is by nature a social process. Writing represents the means by which a message can be communicated to someone else. Children learn how to become writers through meaningful interactions with more knowledgeable people” Dorn & Soffos, Scaffolding Young Writers: A Writers’ Workshop Approach (Stenhouse Publishers, 2001).
Dorn & Soffos are referring to the importance of a teacher working with students in a writers’ workshop environment, but the precursor to this starts here in the home–or back yard–with parents and children talking about letters, numbers, words, or shapes and building them together. Grab your bug spray and head out back!