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

Righty or Lefty? Hand Dominance in Preschool

When I was a Parent Educator, I had many families that asked about when their child would show a preference in hand domination.  I personally, am right handed.  Can't do a darn thing with my left!  My best friend from childhood is a lefty, but she could do lots of things with her right hand.  Lefties are far out-numbered, many say that we live in a right-handed world...and we probably do :)  So, when will you know which hand is your child's dominant hand?  Keep reading to find out what I've learned! Left handed or right handed? Hand dominance in preschool.

According to Marianne Gibbs from Write Out of the Box, children generally develop hand dominance between the ages of 4 and a half to 6 years of age.

So, this means that some Pre-K students may have not developed hand dominance yet.  Each student is different and it is important to embrace the differences.

As parents or teachers it is important that we do not force our hand dominance onto children.  Is the world a little easier for right-handed people (considering we are the majority)?  Yes, I suppose it is.  But, it is not appropriate to force or train your child’s hand to fit in with the majority.  We need to make sure to remember to hand children objects at their midline, or the belly button.  Even when our children are infants and we are handing them toys, try not to show a preference my handing the object to their right or left hand.

Can you imagine how frustrating it would be writing with your non-dominant hand, all because someone thought you should be right handed, when your left is where it’s at?

How do I know when my child’s hand dominance has emerged?  Well, observe them.  Do they cross their midline with a particular hand to grab something?  For example: if I were right handed and I reached to grab the salt and pepper that was to the left of me, using my right hand, I cross my midline to get the s&p.  If you see this repeatedly, chances are that the hand that is crossing the midline is their dominant hand.

Which is your dominant hand?


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!