story · teaching thoughts · writing

A Squiggly Story

This week we will focus on writing. Listen to the story A Squiggly Story by Andrew Larson. Next, encourage your child to write his/her own story. They can choose to draw a picture and write the story based on the picture or just write the words as the boy does in the story. But, the goal is for your CHILD to do the writing. Just as the sister did not write the words for the boy. Remind your child that he/she is the author and the author decides what the story is about. If they draw the pictures, then they are the author and illustrator! (My example is actually a poem)

I love books. Big books, little books. Long books and short books. I love books

There are many ages and stages of writing. Children begin by imitating what it looks like when adults write (some form of squiggly lines typically). Then as they begin to recognize and learn about letters and numbers, they transition to writing random forms that begin to look more and more like letters. Then move into writing beginning sounds, ending sounds and finally words. Once children are able to form words they will typically transition to writing sentences. (read more on my post about stages of writing here)

Often times adults are the reason children do not write. Adults see children “writing” and are quick to jump in and do the writing for the child. They want children to write like an adult, but the goal is for a child to write like a child. You need to encourage your child to write like a child. Call it prek writing or kindergarten writing or child spelling and “correct spelling” is book spelling. Children will learn and recognize that they will transition from child spelling to book spelling and it is a process.

So, what is the adults job? Ask questions. Can you read to me what you wrote? What is going to happen next? Who is your story about? Why did that happen? Where are they going? How does the story end?

And even more important than asking questions… LISTEN! Children love telling stories. Encourage them to tell them through writing.

teaching thoughts

Why is my child struggling to learn?

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masks in the making

I have not forgot about the letter of the day activities. Today I spend the day making new masks for my family. I made masks in March with things I had on hand and today I ventured out to the fabric store and purchased materials to make masks. I am making each of us 3 masks. I know I’ll need more if we have to wear masks to work/school in the fall, but it is a start. I am making my masks with ties, I can never get the ear pieces to sit on my head right, and again if we have to wear them at school for certain parts of the day, the tied masks we can wear around our necks. (I just foresee one of my sons taking it off and forgetting where he put it down.

Teacher Resources

Ok… so here is my real post for today… I often have conversations with concerned parents about “Why is my child struggling to learn ____?” Since most of my students are 4/5, my main answer is they aren’t ready… ok I don’t put it exactly that way, but it is the truth… they aren’t ready.

Just as children do not learn to sit, crawl, walk and talk at the same exact rate and time, they do not learn academic skills at the same rate either. Also, let me break down for you a bit what it takes for a child to truly master a learning skill. You might be shocked!

OK, let’s pick something easy… learning colors. This is a skill that should be mastered by 4 and is one of the red flags that concerns teachers for possible learning issues, BUT there are many levels to learning… so here we go

  • First, a child needs to distinguish that there is a difference between the colors. This is why we focus on assessing the basic colors (red, blue, yellow, green, orange, purple, pink, black, white, brown)
  • Then, they need to understand that the word color means the color of the object…. yes that sounds strange, but think about it.
  • Next, they need to understand that each of these colors has a different name associated with it.
  • Once they understand that each color has a different name, they begin making the connection between the color and the color word.
  • At this time, most children can point out items that are a certain color, “Show me the red ball.” “Point to the yellow duck” This skill only required understanding of the color word connection.
  • Then they need to be able to recall the word on their own. What color is this? (pointing at a green crayon). This skill is harder because your child needs to connect memory to the word color, the color itself AND then find the color word in his/her memory bank and be able to produce the word with confidence.

Yep… that is a lot. And yes, they can do it. Some just take a bit longer (and that is only if your child is not color blind, but that wasn’t the point of this explanation). Understanding, retaining, and expressing information takes a lot of work. A lot of processing. It is a lot. Some children come to these skill easily, others take a bit more time. They will get there.

a child is like a butterfly | Children, Butterfly, Greatful
art · story · writing

First Day of Spring!

Happy spring! It is a gray drizzling day here today, but signs of spring are still popping up all around. I thought today would be a good day to give you a few reading connections and how you can stretch a story.

You can pick a spring story you have at home, search one up on youtube or watch the one I have linked here for you. When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes. This fun and colorful story show how the world changes as spring takes over the environment. It also plays into a fun writing project. In the world of pre-K children’s writing ability can be all over the map. Some children will need to draw the illustrations and then dictate to you what they want to write. Others will use one of the many stages of writing.

Stages of writing:

  • Squiggle lines to represent words
  • Random letters that have no connection the word they are writing (JmtIop=flower)
  • Writing just the beginning sound (f=flower)
  • Moving into hearing more sounds in words – teach your child to slowly stretch out the word to hear all the sounds (flr=flower)
  • Moving more into conventional spelling (flwer= flower)
  • conventional spelling (flower=flower)

Each of these steps is an important part of learning to write. I promise you… your child will not memorize flr as the spelling of the word flower, but giving them the freedom to write phonetically WILL give them the confidence to write. When children are dependent on adults to spell all the words they are afraid to write and won’t write. When they are given the freedom to write on their level, they will want to write!

Here is a writing activity based on the wording in the story, When Spring Comes, but can easily be used with any spring changes story.

writing prompt

Have your child brainstorm changes they see in the spring (snow melting, trees growing buds, flowers starting to bloom, animals coming out of hibernation and more). Have your child complete the illustrations first and then work on the writing. Providing the sentence starter allows your child to form a sentence without the work of sounding out all the words. If your child is ready to write a sentence on his/her own… just give him/her a blank paper and have them fold it in half and do the work on top and bottom leaving space for their words.

example of finished product

I decided to also share another fun and great learning activity that will go with spring… direct drawings. This is a great activity for so many reasons. It helps children see the drawing process, but there is so much more going on. This works on focus, listening to and watching the steps and directions. Following along and while being creative, following step by step. Everyone can put their own little spins on the art, but for the most part they are true to form. Art Hub for kids is a great youtube channel for these direct drawings. Here is a link to a direct drawing of a tulip in a pot.

I always have my students complete the drawing in pencil. Then the go over their pencil lines with a black maker to make the “coloring book” lines. Then they can color the picture. This would make a fun family project. It is crazy to see how different ages and personality interpret the drawings.

I had my sons help me show this process. You can see the step by step work on my i/g account

Share what you did on the first day of spring. What is your weather? What story did you read? Did you complete the writing or tulip drawing? Let me know in comments.