Friday, July 22, 2011

Functional Writing Activities for Preschoolers

The more I read about the development of oral and written language, the more I am convinced that there must be a function, or a use, for all of our learning activities with children.  Some way to tie the activity to real life so that it's meaningful for children and motivating for them to participate with us.

Before we moved from Durham, I had a few things to finish up at work, and I brought Flannery with me to the office.  I was bustling around making copies, filing documents, and checking off my to-do list, and talking through my list with Flannery, when she asked if she could make me a to-do list.  I grabbed a pen and a post-it for her, and here's what she wrote for me, all on her own.

It was such a meaningful activity, tied to what was happening in our life.   Her writing had a function and really meant something to her.  That's what early writing activities should be like.  Not worksheets focused on letter formation.  There's a time and a place for handwriting practice, but we're just going to turn our preschoolers off to writing if we focus too much on form rather than meaning at this age.

Another neat activity Flannery did was to create her own scavenger hunt for us.  We came home from work one day, and her Grammie said that she had created a scavenger hunt for us to follow.  Here are the clues she left for us.

The scavenger hunt activity was incredibly motivating for her, and she's returned to it several times since.  It's so exciting to see her invented spelling taking shape, and the beginning of little sentences.   She also helps me make lists for grocery shopping, appointment reminders, and wish lists for her birthday (yes, already, even though it's not for 4 more months!).  I love that she's already using little transition words like "then," "when," and "now," and how complex her little sentences are.

Follow the squares

When you see mom's room go in there.

Now turn to the hall way

Now you have to go to Flannery's room

Now go to my bed. 

Now go to my shelf.

Now go to the closet. 

Take it out then find this.  (We found a treasure box with necklaces and gemstones!)

How have you supported children's written language development?

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