Guided Drawing and Writing!
Piggie and Elephant made their way into journal time last week! We've been having mini guided drawing lessons right before journal time, and last week, it was a lesson on Elephant. I have found that giving the children 'something' to write about has drastically improved the quality of their writing. Isn't finding something interesting to write about the age old problem?
Remember that the children in our school are between the ages of 4 and 6. Everyone is at a different chronological age and developmental stage. Each picture and story below is a great example of preschool and kindergarten writing at its best!
(Not all of the Elephant stories are pictured here - some were taken home before I could capture them with the camera!)
Elephant got stung by a bee and sat on thorns. He got a bump on his ear.
Elephant was scaring his friends. He was mad about winter. He was dreaming about summer.
(Aren't we all???)
Elephant and his friends are battling the pokemon.
Elephant was so scared.
I so enjoy Mariah Bruehl's book Playful Learning. She breaks down children's writing into four developmental stages.
In stage one children are primarily using pictures to communicate. Parents and teachers can help children out by writing their words for them. Soon children begin to learn that words hold meaning and that words don't change over time. You might see scribbles on drawings in this stage. This is the child's attempt to write!
In stage two children have learned to write some letters, perhaps the letters in their name or just letters they see often. They fill their writing with these letters in no rhyme or reason. Parents should still take dictation from their children while they are in this stage. Having alphabet strips available in the children's writing area is important at this developmental point.
Stage three is where many of our children arrive at in the spring of the year. They've been working all year on letters and sounds and now they can associate sounds to their proper letters. Children at the beginning of this stage can put down on paper one or two sounds that they hear in a word. Many times there are no spaces between their words. Their writing may just be one long string of letters, but if you ask them to read it to you, you can clearly see what they were intending it to say! This is the stage when being a phonics detective can be really advantageous! As with all developmental stages, children don't all move through these stages at the same rate, some children will be in this stage for a long time, while others quickly move on to stage four. Children in stage three should really be encouraged to just get all of the sounds they hear in words down on paper, and not be concerned with how the words are spelled. Helping children segment the sounds in words but not give them the spelling will pay off greatly down the road as the child becomes more of an independent writer.
Some children are perfectionists. They want to spell everything correctly and even if they sound out the word will still want validation that the word is spelled correctly. I have found with these kids it is best to just answer 'yes' regardless of how the word is spelled, their confidence will build and eventually they will stop asking and just write on their own!
Stage four sees children with greater sustained concentration as the quantity of their writing increases greatly. Children is stage four are still segmenting sounds and not getting hung up in correct spellings, but have mastered word spacing and can put down several sounds that they hear in each word. Children in this stage love to write books, make list, and generally use writing to communicate. Writers in this stage start using proper punctuation and grammar. It is fun to watch children in this stage experiment with new skills such as periods or exclamation points in their writing. You will see periods everywhere after they are first taught about them!
Children in stage four are off and running, loving writing and becoming lifelong writers!
Below is another blog post about writing readiness and developmental milestones.