Writing Books With Your Child { Guest Post}

Writing Books with Your Child

by Becky Spence { This Reading Mama }

When kids are first learning to read, one of the things they need are some basic sight words under their belt. My son {age 4.5} has learned about 25 sight words this past year through the PreK reading curriculum I created for him. This summer, I want to expand and review that sight word learning without being too structured.

One way we will do this is by composing emergent readers together about him and the things he loves. There are many reasons why this concept works well. For one, it is all about the child. The majority of readers, even reluctant readers, will stick with something longer when the topic is of high interest to them {and what is more interesting to a child than a story about himself?} Secondly, this idea is highly adaptable to meet the developmental needs of the child {most writing activities are}. I will include some of those adaptations at the end of the post. But for now, I want to share how we made our first emergent book of the summer.

Steps to Writing Books with Your Child

Take Photos of Your Child Doing What He Loves | This Reading Mama

1. Ahead of time, I chose the predictable sentence I wanted for this particular book: “I like to…”. {For young readers, predictable text like this works well because of the repetition of words.} I asked him to pick several things he liked to do and he did them. While he was doing them, I took pictures of him. Painting, jumping, playing his favorite bird game, coloring…you name it.

2. I saved all the pictures to our computer. He chose the pictures he wanted to use and I printed them each onto a separate piece of paper to create a book.

3. I modeled the first sentence, “I like to color”. He listened as I talked through my sentence. It’s great for kids to hear us think out loud as we read and write. This is one way they gain the strategies they need to read and write with independence. An example of what I said, “I’m going to start writing over here on the left side of the paper because that’s where you start with reading and writing.” Think basic. Think simple.

Writing Books with Your Child

4. We worked on the other sentences together. “I like to jump.” “I like to play.” And so on. I let him take the lead and write as much as he wanted. When he didn’t want to write any more, I helped out. To keep him active in the writing while I had the pencil, he continued to help me sound out words. Writing books with kids is a great way to model spacing, capitialization, listening for phonemes {sounds in words}, and other foundational reading and writing skills.

5. Once all the sentences were written {this took two days}, we worked on the title page; made from colored construciton paper of his choice. Coming up with a title was a bit tricky for him, so I offered him several choices. He picked, “Things I Like to Do”. He added “by {his name}” to the title page as well.

6. We stapled the book together and he used our recycled bubble wand to read it to me. The book now has a home in his independent reading bin {a bin of books he can read himself, mainly from Reading the Alphabet}. If you don’t have a bin, displaying the books your child has written among the other books on the shelf or in a special space shows him you value his work as a writer.

Adaptations for Writing Books with Your Child

  • Instead of taking photos, ask your child to illustrate the pictures. This works particularly well for those children who love to draw.
  • Adapt the predictable sentence based on the words your child already knows or needs to know. Start simple. Sight words need to be introduced slowly with children just learning to read.
  • Use life experiences to create your sentences. For example, after a trip to the zoo, you could write the predictable sentence: “I saw a…” filling in the different animals your child saw that day.
  • Make it as long or as short as you’d like. Our book was five pages long because that’s all his attention span could handle.
  • Break up the activity into different segments. The entire book does not have to be completed in one sitting. Break it up over a few days, especially if you’re asking your child to do most of the drawing or writing.
  • For children who are not ready to do the writing, do it for them. But require that they be your helper, listening for sounds {phonemes} in words, helping put the space in between words by placing their finger there as a space holder, or drawing the period at the end of the sentence. Sometimes children just aren’t ready to write the entire sentence. Ask them to write the letters they do know how to write.
  • For more advanced readers/writers, mix up the sentences a bit instead of making the book totally predictable. For example, “I like to jump./I can jump very high./I jump the highest on my trampoline.” etc.

Predictable Sentence Starters

As a head-start, here are a few sentence starters that work well for writing predictable books with young readers, based on early sight word lists:

  • The _______.
  • A ______.
  • I see the ______.
  • I see a ______.
  • I can _______.
  • I like _______.
  • I like to ______. {example I used}
  • I saw a ______.
  • I am _______.
  • My _______.
  • Look at the ______.

 

Becky @ This Reading Mama

Becky Spence is a homeschooling mama to four little blessings. She is passionate about teaching, specifically literacy. She is the author of This Reading Mama, where she shares reading and writing activities as well as literacy curricula and printables. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Not A Stick – Story & Creative Activity

Guest Post by Deborah J. Stewart, M. Ed. of Teach Preschool

I have been following No Time for Flash Cards for a very long time now and one thing I know about Allie is that she loves a good quality children’s book. So I thought I would share a fun little book we recently explored in my preschool classroom

The title of the book is “Not a Stick” by Antoinette Portis. The book is very simple to read and the basic idea is to get children’s imaginations going by imagining the stick in the book is anything but a stick!

As a class we have read this book at least three times and now as I read the book, the children shout out what the stick will be next! “It’s a fishing pole!”

After we read the book for the second time, I had the children go outside and gather sticks from our play yard…

As you can see, there is no shortage of sticks in our “play yard!” Once the children had selected a few sticks, we came back inside and each child taped their sticks to their own large sheet of paper…

The children then used crayons and their imaginations to turn the sticks into something that was “not a stick”…

This process was simple for the children and yet challenging too! The children tended to draw random lines around the sticks and talk about what they were making. When the children had finished their drawings, I had each child dictate to me a story about their stick. We started the story with, “It’s not a stick. It’s a….” and the children had to complete the sentence…

Our sticks turned out to be alligators, spiders, circles, swords, and more. A process like this is simple yet promotes great opportunity for story telling and imagination!

Whether you are a parent or a teacher, I would love to invite you to stop by Teach Preschool and see some of the other books and activities I share on my blog that young children will enjoy both at home or in the classroom!

Kid Made – Nature Gifts

Guest Post by Susan Case

There is a growing body of evidence which indicates that direct experiences with nature are essential for a child’s physical and emotional health. Studies have also shown that exposure to nature can increase a child’s resistance to stress, anxiety, and depression as well as build up their immune system. Ask your child if they would like to go on a nature scavenger hunt or go bird watching. Their answer may surprise you.

Become as a child yourself as you rediscover the wonder and mysteries of flowers, ants, worms, birds, or critters in a pond. Take a free walk around the neighborhood meeting friends, relaxing, and building muscles as your child leads you on an adventure of learning and awe. Bring a sack or basket to collect some of the treasures that you discover.

My friend Katie from Mommy with Selective Memory took these photographs of her twenty-two month-old Little Buddy and three-year-old Munchkin Girl on an outdoor adventure.

Little Munchkin and Buddy took a nature walk with mom, gathering some of nature’s beauty.

When they returned home with their sack of treasures, they helped mom make a Salt Dough mixture so they could make a keepsake.

The children enjoyed combining the ingredients and feeling the texture of the salt dough.

Then they pressed their nature objects into the dough.

Mom baked the keepsakes to harden them. Now they can be used as a gift to grandma on Mother’s Day or kept in their special Treasure Box as a reminder of a fun outdoor adventure.

I asked Katie if the nature walk and salt dough recipe was enjoyable for her children. This was her response: “Yes, they had so much fun they wanted to go back outside and collect more stuff! They spent the next 30 minutes happily collecting outside and talking to each other about all the things outdoors. It was really cute.” If you need a laugh, click here to see what Little Buddy collected the next time Katie gave him a sack.

Salt Dough Recipe:

1 cup of salt

1 cup of flour

½ cup water

In a large bowl, combine the salt and flour.
Make a well in the salt/flour mixture and add the water.
Knead until smooth and shape into a ball (can wrap in plastic or store in airtight container for later use).
Press flat and add objects.
Put on baking sheet in oven at 100 degrees C or 200 F for 2-3 hours, or if hot weather, may dry outside for several days in the sun.

Check out these posts that have more ways you can use your nature collections. Pattern Naturally has ideas for children to learn math by using objects found in nature. Also, Why Craft? Why Art? will give you more ideas and reasons why the art process is so important for children to experience.

Susan Case is a retired teacher, now author and blogger. You can visit her at Kindergarten for Teachers and Parents.

 

Mustache Match Puzzle

Guest Post by Adrienne
matching game for preschool
We love mustaches, puzzles and felt around our house so this Mustache Match activity was a hit! My original idea was to use construction paper (which would work great!), but since I love ALL things felt I went the felt route instead. Last Christmas I made felt mustaches on a stick for each of our family members so I had those in mind when creating this project.
matching games

I didn’t want it to be too easy for Sweet P so I created 10 mustaches and made some that looked similar to make it challenging for her. I used a variety of colors (but you could just use black), including some that we don’t talk about often so we could incorporate color recognition as well. I looked up a few of the styles (Charlie Chaplin, Fu Manchu, Handlebar, Lorax) so I could talk about the type of mustaches with her for fun. Sweet P loved this game and wanted to do it several times.

matching game for preschool

The Project: Mustache Match Game

matching puzzle

What you need:

  • 1 piece of construction paper
  • pencil
  • various colors of felt
  • scissors
  • black marker or Sharpie
  • flat magnets
  • hot glue gun/glue
Trace mustaches onto various colors of felt or fold felt in half and cut free hand. Trace each mustache onto a piece of construction paper (this will be your puzzle). Outline each mustache with a black sharpie. You can stop here or cut them out (I cut them out so the magnets would work a bit better). Laminate the construction paper for durability.
Stiffen felt using 1 part water/1 part glue. Mix the glue and water together in a small bowl, then dip each mustache into the mixture. Squeeze out excess water and place damp mustaches on a baking sheet to dry overnight. They should be stiff in the morning.

Hot glue flat magnets to the back of each mustache. Place the puzzle mat on a baking sheet with your mustache magnets in a small bowl and you’re ready to go!

matching game

Don’t forget to try on a few! Baby Blue got in on the action, too!

matching game

Adrienne  blogs at The Iowa Farmer’s Wife. She is a mama to 2 munchkins: a toddler and a 5 mo old. She blogs about  daily activities, crafts and the fun foods they grow and eat. You can find out more about her here.

Journal Writing ( for pre-writers)

literacy activities for kids Guest Post by Rebekah Patel

One way I build literacy skills with my preschool daughter is to dedicate time to journal writing.  Our journal time is inspired by what I learned when I facilitated Lucy Calkin’s Writing Workshop with my former students.  My daughter is a pre-writer because she writes only a few words and no sentences, but she can develop language skills by composing her thoughts into a writing journal.  Through journal writing, she learns the ideas she  talks about can be put onto paper.

For journal writing, I provide her a journal and colored pencils.  The journal can be handmade or a store bought sketch book.  It is important the pages are unlined because pre-writers will mostly draw in their journal.

We begin journal writing by reviewing what we wrote about the previous day.  Then, I model one simple writing idea in my own journal.  When I first modeled journal writing, I drew a picture and wrote.  I observed that my daughter was very hesitant to write anything in her journal.  Now, I only draw pictures in my journal, and she has become more confident and independent in creating her own ideas in her journal.

Below are some writing ideas that I have used for my daughter, but when you model writing for your child make sure the writing is relevant to your child’s life.

 

 

Writing Ideas

  • How To’s – brush teeth, do laundry, bake cookies
  • People and Pets  – Mama, Papa, grandparents, cats
  • Events – parties, trip to library, holidays
  • Their World – rain, home, school, grocery store
  • Likes – food, clothes, places, television shows
  • Feelings – sad, happy, angry
  • Learning – topics of interest such as planets, wild animals, weather, numbers

After I have modeled writing, my daughter begins to write about her idea.  She is free to write about a topic that interests her, and she doesn’t need to write about the same topic I showed her that day.  During this time, she works independently for about five minutes.  She often writes about a new topic, but I do notice she has other typical behaviors displayed during journal time.

 Writing Behaviors

  • writing name over and over
  • letter writing practice
  • scribbles
  • copying Mama’s work
  • a lot of family and pet pictures

Once she has finished writing, she tells me about her writing.  I transcribe her words on the page.  Sometimes she doesn’t want me to write directly on her page, and I will write her ideas on a sticky note.  I stay positive about the work she shows me even if she has spent the entire time scribbling.  I know she doesn’t end up scribbling every day, and there may be some days she has hard time figuring out what she would like to write in her journal.

literacy activities for kids

 Journal writing builds children’s confidence in their writing ideas.  It allows children to learn to stay focused on writing tasks.  As children develop, they will start writing more words in their journals.

 

Rebekah is a former elementary school teacher who now is a stay at home mom.  In her blog, The Golden Gleam, she shares art, play, and learning ideas to light up kids’ lives.