With Spring right around the corner, we decided to do a “makeover” on the writing center.
We know how important writing in the Early Childhood classroom is because research suggests:
- Writing promotes children’s phonological awareness, letter knowledge and letter-sound knowledge.
- Writing and emergent spelling promote reading vocabulary development.
- Orally composing a message that an adult transcribes and trying to write their own messages may help children develop print awareness skills
- Teachers can use their students’ spellings as evidence of phonological sensitivity and alphabet knowledge in order to tailor instruction
(“Developing Preschool Children’s Writing. ” Stephanie L. Strachan, Neil K. Duke (Michigan State University); William H. Teale (University of Illinois)
We are trying to give the students opportunities to draw/write daily, to develop the concept that writing has a purpose and provide opportunities for self-expression.
So after school on Tuesday we got busy moving things around and gathering up all of our materials for the students to use in the writing center. Below is a picture of the writing center with a bookshelf to hold the materials and a table close by so they can choose their materials and have a place to work. Having the table also can act as a natural way to limit the number of students in the center, if we want to do that. We put the bookshelf out in the room, away from the wall, to try to create a cozier area for working. Hopefully there will be less distractions that way.
After we got the furniture rearranged we started putting the materials together. We selected Spring as our thematic unit, so we bought a lot of Spring items from the dollar store.
Some of the items include various “fancy” pencils, markers and pens (notice the bunny pen), play dough to make words, a bingo dauber to stamp over letters and words. Other miscellaneous items from the dollar store include a stapler to make their own books, scotch tape, lacing cards for fine motor development, various types of paper, a dry erase board, glue, scissors and envelopes. We made thematic word cards for the word wall and the writing center (get a copy below). My First Word Book ($4.99 from Marshalls). We think a book like this is so important because it allows the children to use a reference book while they are writing. Don’t forget to add picture books about writing.
Some of the activity choices in the writing center include words (high frequency or thematic) written big on manilla paper with thick black marker for the kids to either rainbow write over with different colored markers or stamp over with the bingo dauber, clip boards with write the room forms (grab our forms for Spring below) and napkin books. Napkin books are a great (cheap) way to make individual thematic journals. Buy seasonal napkins at the dollar store. Cut paper the same size or a little smaller than the closed napkin. Open the napkin, place the paper between the two pieces of the napkin, close the napkin and staple two staples across the top.
Another fun writing activity is to make a thematic interest basket. We put bunny ears in the basket so the kids could wear them as they write a story or list about the contents of the basket. Include another copy of the thematic word cards in the basket.
A popular choice at this center is the “story” starters. You can make enough copies of one prompt per week and have them available in the center if someone wants to choose this activity. (You can download copies of our Spring story starters below.)
To give the kids some vocabulary and background knowledge, read a nonfiction book about Spring and make an anchor chart with some Spring words during whole group time. This is also a good time to add a few thematic words to our word wall.
We hope we have given you some fun ideas to make Springing into Writing meaningful and FUN in your classroom.