Writing

How to get your Writing Center Rockin'

Writing in the Early Childhood classroom is important.

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Even though preschool writing may not look like traditional writing, it is an important part of the literacy process.

But, have you ever struggled with getting your preschoolers to go to the writing center?

Yep, me too. When given the choice, my traditional writing center with pencils, pens and paper was not too appealing when up against a sensory tub full of sand or a grocery store in the drama center.

My traditional writing center was just not cuttin' it.

The goals I had for my writing center are for children to get a writing utensil in their hand and make marks that are meaningful to them.  I want children to enjoy this experience and I want to throw a little fine motor in there too.

So, I knew- it's time to start changing it up!

My plan was to draw them into the writing center with new, exciting and different materials.  I knew that if I could draw their attention in, they would come and write- as a preschooler can- and my writing center goals would be met.

 But, what kinds of new, exciting and different materials can be added?

Here are just a few ideas:

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Start out simple...

Adding clipboards makes everything more exciting!  Clipboards are a tool children don't get to use too often, making them exciting!

Think beyond white paper...  envelopespost-it notes and index cards are also tools not available to most children on a regular basis- making them exciting and new.

Move beyond just pencils.  Ballpoint penshighlighters and smelly markers make interesting writing utensils for children to explore.



Then, start collecting more writing tools and activities...

Boogie Boards are a fun way to encourage writing, and it erases with a push of a button!

Wooly Willy is an old-school magnetic fun board.  I like it because it gets a pencil-like tool in children's hands and they make strokes to move the magnets inside.

Water Wow is a big hit in our classroom.  You fill up a tube with a paintbrush on the end.  You use the brush on the special cards- we have alphabet cards- and images and colors appear. 

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Need more ideas?

Get this free Writing Center Materials Idea List for more ideas!

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Why We Don't Use a Sign-In Book in Preschool

Why We Don't Use a Sign-In Book in Preschool

Have you heard of the process of 'signing in' in the pre-k classroom?

When a student comes in for the day, he or she takes time to sign their name in a sign-in book or clipboard.  It is a way for children to practice writing their names each day.

Sounds good right?? Here is why we don’t use sign-in books in our preschool classroom.

Encourage the Home & School Connection with a Fine Motor Tub

Tell me something... do you happen to struggle with making meaningful home and school connections?  

A positive connection between school and families is an integral part of the success of students in the classroom.    It is important for us to try and educate parents on the needs of their preschool aged children.  When parents and educators are on the same page, a child's success can soar.  

Writing our Names in Preschool

Name writing in preschool is an essential skill in preparing for Kindergarten.  A child's name is generally the first word that they write.  Lots of pride comes from a child learning to write his or her name.  This is why I created a Name Writing Notebook for my students. Read on to find out more!

Name Writing Notebook for Preschool
Name Writing Notebook for Preschool

Before name writing can take place, it is important that children take the first two steps:

1.Recognizing: students need to be able to recognize their name (read a post about this here)

2.Constructing: students need to be able to build their name (read a post about this here)

Then, students can work on writing their names.  I like to start with the first letter of a students name. We always practice the first letter as a capital letter.  In the Name Writing Notebook, students work on tracing the first letter and then writing the first letter on their own in a grey box, as a designated spot on the paper to practice.  In this notebook you will not find dots or dashed lines.  I believe that children can be easily confused by those dots/dashes.  By tracing solid lines, students are practicing the strokes rather than going from dot to dot, which can sometimes result in jagged lines.

We then move on to tracing the whole name with only the first letter a capital letter.  I know that there is much debate over having children write in all capital letters and the transition to lowercase will happen.  But, to be honest, I am not of that thinking.  To me, a habit is a habit.  How I practice things will be how I complete them.   We do explore with building and writing capital letters, just not when we work on writing our names.

name writing in preschool
name writing in preschool

What I am loving about these notebook is the versatility.  Lots of different options for name practice in an easy to understand, child friendly format.  Check out some of the pages below:

name writing in pre-k
name writing in pre-k

Do you feel like your preschoolers are ready to practice writing their names?  

How can we encourage preschoolers to write?

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Preschool creativity journal- open ended prompts to encourage writing in preschoolers.
Preschool creativity journal- open ended prompts to encourage writing in preschoolers.

Do you ever struggle to get your preschoolers interested in the writing center?  The writing center seems to be the least favorite center for my three and four year olds. Preschool age children struggle with coming up with ideas to put onto paper.  Many times, sitting and writing does not look as appealing as stacking blocks in the block center or cooking up food in the drama center. So, how can we as educators and caregivers encourage writing in a positive and intriguing way?

For me and my students, it was through a Preschool Creativity Journal.  This journal is not a traditional journal with traditional prompts.  Rather, I give my young writers a place to start.  The Preschool Creativity Journal encourages children to pick up a writing utensil and use the prompt to put their own ideas on paper.

preschool circle prompt for the preschool creativity journal
preschool circle prompt for the preschool creativity journal

For example, in the picture above is three different student's journals. The prompt was a circle that I drew on their page. In the first picture the student was creating lots of circles on their own.  In the second, the circle was ignored and some small lines were drawn.  In the last picture, the student did some controlled left to right scribbling within the circle.  All the same prompt, with all different outcomes.

preschool snowman prompt for the preschool creativity journal
preschool snowman prompt for the preschool creativity journal

Now, here is a picture of three circles and the word snowman.  In the first picture the snowman was decorated, while in the second, the student created their own snowman after seeing the prompt.  Sidenote: I like to write the word with the shape to model and encourage letter writing.

preschool line
preschool line

In this example, I provided students with a vertical line.  Some students replicated the line, while others traced it.  One student traced the line, then did some invented writing through it!

Benefits of the Preschool Creativity Journal:

-Encourages children to hold a writing utensil, practicing a pincer grasp.

-Journals encourage turning pages left to right.

-Allows children ownership over their journal, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

-Encourages creativity, no other prompting is done other than providing the prompt on paper.

-The journal format allows for teachers and children to look a progress.

Tips:

-Next year I will try to find journals without lines.  I would rather my students have a 'clean slate'.

-I lay out the journals on the table with the prompt showing. Some days I provide pencils, other days I provide markers.  I also like to provide golf sized pencils (for little hands) and even chalk!

-I try my best to keep these journals open-ended, therefore I do not tell students where to write or what they are to be writing. I also allow them to flip to different pages to explore writing.  These are their journals and they are welcome to write in them whenever they would like!

-I put a picture of each student on their journal for easy identification.

-Don't forget to date the writing for when you look back.

I love watching how differently each student takes the prompt and moves forward with it!  It has been such a positive and rewarding learning experience for my children!

If you want to learn more about the prompts I give and how I manage it, check out the Preschool Creativity Journal in my TpT Store:

Preschool Creativity Journal
Preschool Creativity Journal