Learning to Write

Power of the line

"I want no visitors in my fairy house. I need another piece of paper."
The children are asked to draw their plans for their dens/forts/treehouses/fairy houses before building them. Taking the time to draw and think about their structures before they build provides a platform for contemplation...What will I use? If they are asked to draw after a building session, it gives them an opportunity for reflection...What did I accomplish?

The children sketch plans for the structures they want to build.

If you look at this child's drawing (below) you will see a drawing that is very much an expression of her ideas for building a house with a sign, "No." She later asked me for a piece of paper. She wrote "NO" on it and placed it in the doorway of her house. She said, "This is my welcome mat."

Plans for a fairy house including a welcome mat.

The welcome mat pictured in the plans is now placed in the entryway of the fairy house.

Other children had to make signs as well. Children, surrounded by a labeled world, feel compelled to make their own labels. This is an important component of learning to write.
We have paper and drawing materials in every space including outside in the playground. We carry drawing materials with us on field trips. If the children want to document their constructions, things they have seen or are thinking, make signs, or send messages, they can find and bring piece of paper and pencil to where they are playing. Draw. Label. Document. It builds the BIG IDEA of reading and writing.
Below are the results of the contemplation. The children used the objects in the classroom in a new and different way. One child used the chairs for a fairy soldier house. Another child paused before entering the fairy house under the table, clearly marked as it was with its, "NO" sign. The last photo shows a rite of passage--being able to open Mrs. Prohaska's suitcase by yourself. Big moments in fine motor development related to expressing and accessing ideas.

A building takes shape according to the plan.

A fine house. A perfect house.

Every house needs at least one good window.

The finest of fine motors are needed to open Mrs. Prohaska's suitcase.


Small steps to learning; how does a child learn to write?

Valerie Strauss writes an education news piece called The Answer Sheet for the Washington Post. While her posts are “all things educational,” it is interesting when she turns her attention to the state of affairs in early childhood education—“Tutors for 3-year olds and More Preschool Nuttiness” leads the blog post! Why is it so easy to put the words “nuttiness” and “preschool” together? Read it now! It gets nuttier tomorrow!