A lifetime ago, I worked as a high school, then middle school, language arts teacher. One of my primary jobs? Teaching writing. I used fun ideas. Somewhere between then and now, my enthusiasm and joy for teaching writing got lost. It's time to find it!
On the recommendation of one of my favorite teachers, I started reading Kids Have All the Write Stuff; Inspiring Your Children to Put Pencil to Paper. (This book is available on Amazon, used, for the cost of shipping. I highly recommend it.) I'm newly inspired to make big changes in what we're doing with writing. I hope some of you join us!
My New Year's Goal: to excite my boys, ages 4 and 8, about writing!
Suggested Materials: the book has a lot of ideas, but I'm going to start by setting up some type of writing/art station (with tape, mini stapler, pens/pencils, art supplies) and providing each child with a writing box. If you use workboxes, you could continue with that format. I'm choosing to use something that looks different from our regular "school." I bought each boy a Sterilite 14" x 11" x 3 1/4" clip box with snap-on lid.
Box Contents: the idea is for the contents to change on a regular basis, providing many varied opportunities for writing. The box could hold felt pens and paper. A variety of cards. Some stationary. Cut hearts. Stencils. You name it. Anything that will inspire children to write. And what can they write? Anything! Lists, menus, journals, comics, poetry, puzzles...ANYTHING! I want writing to be a playful part of daily life rather than always being associated with regular schoolwork. Here's what we'll start with...
My 8yo regularly journals as part of school. To change things up a bit I made some journal templates for each boy that reflect feelings. My 8yo will get to rank each day on a 1-10 scale and then describe why he choose that number. My 4yo gets to circle a face for the day--happy, sad, or in between--and dictate or use invented spelling to tell about his day. I'm having them do this at the table as I prepare dinner so that most of the day has passed before they write. Ideally, I'll join them and write in my own feelings journal.
I have piles of old stationary (going back to my childhood--check out the photo!) that has pretty designs, pictures, etc. I'm going to put an assortment into each box along with stickers, envelopes and other correspondence-type material. Some of this will be "published" as we send them to friends and relatives. Others will be used as they play...making maps for their adventures, writing to each other, etc.
Mini-books of all kinds. Topic books...I'll demonstrate in a later blog entry. NCR/carbon copy paper. Adding machine tape. Tracing paper. Graph paper. Varied art materials.
I'm planning to change out the contents every few weeks. I'd love to hear your ideas for box materials. Anyone want to join our writing adventure? ;)