Are you ready for a walk down memory lane? Well, it is only my memory, so I suppose it’s more like a walk down story lane.
And just to warn you, it might be a little bit of a lengthy walk.
Please feel free to skip down the lane (ha!) until I get to the actual part about how to learn to write. Because that is where we are heading – I promise.
Before I was born – bah! Kidding, not that far down memory lane.
My very first teaching job was teaching Kindergarten. And boy how I loved it! I remember that first class perfectly, and each and every one of those little ones. I like to think that my pep and enthusiasm for teaching made up for all I didn’t yet know in the teaching world. Like how many different ways there are for kids to learn to write, for example.
Back then I focused only on teaching those little ones the letter sounds. About mid-way through the year it became apparent that so, so, so many words can not be spelled out phonetically.
So then we worked on sight words. There we have it (I thought proudly) those little ones are armed with some sight words and phonetics – they are set to fly!
Luckily they all flew right on to an incredibly experienced and amazing grade one teacher (Mrs. Jones). She taught them so many more ways to learn to write. And since she was so incredible, she let me come and learn too.
Hard to believe that was 9 years ago.
Over those 9 years I have taught many other little ones skills to help them learn to write. It turns out one of the very best ways is to read aloud to them. Reading stories helps children in countless ways – but I already wrote an entire post on that topic, so I won’t open that can of worms just now. (But please trust me, picking up a book to read to your child is one of the most powerful educational activities you can do with him. Oh I can feel that can beginning to open! Fight it … fight it ….)
Here are 3 very simple ways (in addition to reading aloud A LOT – fight … it ….) we are helping Sam learn to write right now.
Building Word Families:
Last year I was gifted so many teaching supplies from a retiring grade 1 teacher. Those boxes are just filled with incredible learning ideas and inspiration. One of the many gems I found was this word family building set.
It’s very simply a piece of black cardstock folded to hold the alphabet cards. It also has the alphabet written on little pieces of white (consonants) and red (vowels) cardstock. Children can practice building words.
We use it a lot for word families. Sam will pop a word family ending into the black holder, for example “at”, and then pop in as many different words as he can that end in that sound — bat, cat, fat, hat, mat … and hopefully soon even including blends at the beginning like that.
Sam is not one to pick up a pencil and get to writing. Encouraging him to do so is not that easy either. So we had a little bit of magic take over. Turns out Sam’s little gnome friend Jerome (whom you might recognize from Clever’s New Trick) comes to life at night to respond to write to Sam.
Wouldn’t you know that Sam is thrilled to respond back and tries his hardest to sound out those words the best he can. He is beginning to use the letters Jerome writes back to correct certain words. This was one of his first letters – “To Jerome the Gnome, I have made a friend for you. Love Sam”
Copying written words:
Because Sam focuses so much on stretching out those sounds and spelling his words when he is writing phonetically, he doesn’t focus on letter formation. And since so many words can’t be spelled phonetically, sight words need to be practiced too. This activity works on both of those.
I will write a few simple sentences and Sam will copy them. We focus on certain sight words and practice them throughout the week. We also focus on how each letter is formed. While this is not super engaging for Sam, he is really wanting to improve his writing so he powers through.
Of course there are many, many, many other ways for children to learn to write (just ask Mrs. Jones), but these 3 are giving us a really great foundation for now.
I hope you are having a lovely start to your week friends. Thank you very much for strolling/skipping down memory/story lane with me.