How can we encourage preschoolers to write?

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.


-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

5 Ways to Encourage Writing through Play

How to encourage children to write through play based learning.
How to encourage children to write through play based learning.

Writing though Pretend Play:  Providing writing materials related to the area of pretend play is a natural way of encourage students to write.  Adding paper and a small clipboard to an office pretend play or placing a doctor's checklist in a pretend doctor's office are easy ways to bring writing into play.  Here are some pretend play props that encourage writing!

Providing different writing tools: A surefire way to encourage writing, especially at the writing center, is to provide lots of different tools to write with.  Also, to switch out the writing tools often to create more interest.  Children love to see what is new at a center!  Here is a great resource of tools to use when writing from Teach Preschool.

Paint bags: Encouraging young children to write does not always have to involve pencils!  Fill a ziploc bag with paint and hang on a window or place on a desk.  Children use their fingers to write on the paint - without the mess.  Here is some more infomation on paint bags.

Signing in to Preschool: Sign in sheets give students the ability to practice writing in a meaningful manner.  Students let the class and teacher know they are at school, all while strengthning writing skills.  Deborah at Teach Preschool has a fabulous post about signing in.

Writing with bookmaking: Students can express their ideas and develop lots of important literary and writing skills by creating their own books.  Vanessa from Pre-K Pages gives great information on bookmaking with young children.

Follow Ashley @ Lovely Commotion's board PRESCHOOL WRITING on Pinterest.

Monthly Vocabulary Words: FREE Printables

Do you have a writing center in your classroom?  Do you have circle time with your tots?  If so, than these vocabulary printables are for you!  As a part of the 13 Days of Learning Printables series (see below), I am sharing my Monthly Words Printables.  I love how colorful and bright these small posters are.  But, don't think these are just for hanging on the wall, no!  Check out the many ways these printables can be used:

monthly vocabulary words
monthly vocabulary words

- Hang in a writing center for quick and easy reference

- Hang on your circle time board and name each item for the month

- Playing a guessing game with the monthly posters.  Give children hints to see if they can figure out the object that you were thinking of.  For example, it is round, orange and it bounces= basketball

- Cut the word from the picture.  Have your young reader match the words to the pictures

-Play a toddler sized game of 'cover it up'.  Call out an object and they use a block or counter to cover it up.

Ready to download?  Click here to get your FREE Monthly Words Printables

This post is part of the 13 Days of Learning Printables For Kids series. Between May 7th to May 26, 13 of us kid bloggers will be sharing a learning printable with you. There are some pretty fun printables in this series so be sure to check them out!

| Life Over C’s | The Measured Mom | Preschool Powol Packets | Itsy Bitsy Fun |

| The Connection We Share | Teaching Mama | Lovely Commotion |

| 3 Dinosaurs | Edventures With Kids | This Reading Mama | Mama Miss |

| A Moment In Our World | The Mommy Talks | Ingles360 |

13 Days of Learning Printables
13 Days of Learning Printables

Teaching Preschoolers their Name (Part 3)

How to teach preschoolers their name. Here is Part 3 of the 'Teaching Preschoolers their Name' series.

In case you missed them… Here is Part1: Recognizing Name and Part 2: Constructing Name.

After your child is able to BOTH recognize and construct their name then it MIGHT be time to practice writing.  Please be sure that your child is ready & be sure not to push your child into writing which he/she may find frustrating.

Writing Name

I cannot urge enough to be sure that your child/student is ready for this step.  Generally I have found 4 year olds are typically ready.  But, all children are different.  Some things to look for: Does your child like to play write? Do they have an interest in their written name? Does he/she like to trace?  If so, maybe it is time to learn to write our name!

-First off:  Just start with the first letter of his/her name.  This will be MUCH less overwhelming, especially for those with long names!

-Start with tracing.  You write the letter (to make sure you are forming them correctly, find out if your school district uses D’Nelian or Zaner Bloser- click the links to view samples.) with a light colored marker or crayon.  I like to use grey.  Student traces over it.

*A note about dotted or dashed lines:  See the pic below?  Confusing much?  Too many dots and arrows!  I feel strongly that using dots and dashes are not only confusing, but students sometimes want to go dot to dot, making their writing rigid rather than fluid.  I ALWAYS write their name as it should be written- remember only use a capital at the beginning of the name (Sammy- Smile  SAMMY – Sad smile)

Image from About.com

image This is a free assessment from the Handwriting Without Tears Program (this is what I use for Pre-k and love it)  See how the lines just look like crayon strokes?

When your child is tracing their name or any letter, be sure to observe them closely to make sure that they are starting in the right spot and making the correct strokes.  Also, I always have my pre-k students use crayons or golf pencils when writing.  Reasoning…well, their hands are much smaller than ours.  So, using a pencil that works for us, is harder to hold for smaller hands.  When learning to form letters, we don’t want students to become frustrated with the writing utensil, so be sure it fits in their hand well.

Other ways to practice forming letters:

There are lots of other ways to practice forming letters and practicing their name other than pencil and paper!

-White boards/chalkboards: using different mediums always make learning more fun!

- Using salt in a tray and a paint brush to write name.  Or, try putting hair gel in a ziploc, lay flat on the table and use finger to write.  We also LOVE using shaving cream, spreading it on the table and writing with our fingers.

-We also use window markers/crayons from Crayola and write names on the window.  When it gets cold my daughter loves to write her name in the frost on the storm door!

-Name Name Writing Notebook for PreschoolWriting Notebook: I created a name writing notebook for my pre-kers to practice writing their name in an appropriate sequence.





The possibilities are endless!  I would love to hear how to help your young ones practice letter formation.  Please SHARE!

Teaching Preschoolers their Name (Part 2)

How to teach preschoolers their name.  

Welcome to part 2 of ‘Teaching Preschoolers their Name’  If you missed part one, please click HERE to check it out before reading this post!

In Part One I wrote about helping children recognize their name.  Part Two will be devoted to what comes next after your child can recognize their written name. Constructing their name.

Constructing Name {think building the name, but not yet writing}

Help your child learn how to put his/her name in order from left to right using the correct letters.  There are some fun ways to do this:

- Write the name on a strip of paper. Cut apart each letter.  Mix up the letter and have your child re-construct their name. Like a puzzle!  There is a GREAT post from Teach Preschool that I urge you to check out.  She created a mat to put the letters on as a scaffold.

Image: Teach Preschool

-Because many of us learn through song, try making up a song to help learn to spell!  Cherrios and Lattes has a GREAT post on this!

-Hide letters to his/her name in a sensory tub or around the house. You could use magnetic letters, foam letters (for the bath) or letters you have written on pieces of paper. Once all the letters are found, have your child/student put the name back together.  To aid in this construction of his/her name try using this mat.  Students start at the star and put the letters in order from left to right.  Make sure to demonstrate this before expecting your child to do it.  Also, be mindful that letters most likely will be upside down or backwards when constructing.  Try not to make this a big deal, this is expected developmentally.

name building mat  Click on the mat to download for free!

-The mat seen above can also be used with many different letter manipulatives.  Try cutting out the letters of your child’s name from a magazine, use the mat and glue in order. Use alphabet stickers and alphabet stamps.  For beginning learners, just pull out the letters that are in their name, then move to putting out all 26 letters and having them find their own letters from the pile.


-Hop to it: Place out the letters of your child’s name like a hopscotch board.  Use a large marker to write each letter on 1 piece of paper.  Lay or tape onto the floor.  Kids jump from letter to letter, as you say each letter.  Great activity for kinesthetic kiddos!

I hope you have found some of these tips useful!  As you can see there are SO many different ways to make learning our names FUN!

Check out my Pinterest Board about Learning Names for even more ideas!

Time to move on to Part 3: WRITING NAME