6 ways to encourage writing in preschool

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on May 3, 2014

in 6 Ways to Encourage Writing Skills, Reading and Writing Readiness

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There are many different ways to encourage writing skills with preschool aged children.  Today I’m going to share with you some of the ways we encourage beginning writing in our preschool classroom…

6 ways to encourage writing in preschool

When it comes to writing, the most important thing to remember is that it should be fun!  Shouldn’t that apply to all learning? From time to time, a follower on Facebook will ask for advice about how to get their child to enjoy “writing practice.”  The first thing I suggest is to make the “writing process” fun!  Put away the workbooks until the time comes when the child is interested in them, and instead incorporate writing activities into their daily play…

Writing numbers

1. Start with their name

When introducing writing to your children or students, you want to make it relevant to them.  What is more relevant than their own name?  Begin by pointing out the letters in their name when you see them in environmental print.  You can say things like, “This cereal starts with the letter R, just like your name.” Or “Will has four letters in his name, just like Jack has four letters in his name.”  This year, at school, we have tested out a few ways to get our children to sign in each morning.  Our young threes may not grasp all the letters in their name, but we still encourage them to “make their mark.”  We want them to know that their name is important, and also that we are glad they came to school.  You can read more about our signing into preschool process here…

Signing in to preschool by Teach Preschool

All good artists will want their name on their artwork and all teachers need a way to remember whose artwork belongs to who. So, we like to encourage our children to put their name or make their mark on all of the art work that they do in class.  This is also something that you could do at home…

Writing our names2. Use your fingers

You can begin the writing process with the tools you were born with–your fingers!   Writing doesn’t have take place with pencils or crayons.  In fact, using your fingers helps to develop the strength that is needed to eventually be able to grasp a pencil or crayon later on.  Squishy gel sensory bags are a lot of fun to make and to write on…

Writing on gel bags...

Sand or salt trays are also an interesting medium for children to write in.  The children can practice writing their names in the salt tray or use the trays for drawing or printing…

Salt Tray

Paint trays are another super fun way to encourage writing.  Rainbow writing in a paint tray is a bright, colorful, and inviting way to get young preschoolers interested in writing…

Rainbow Writing by Teach Preschool

3. Offer interesting tools

If you have students that do not enjoy finger painting or having messy hands, then you can certainly offer other tools to use in their paint trays or salt trays.  Q-tips work well for writing in paint and an unsharpened pencil works well in a salt tray.  Paper, crayons, pencils, and markers are often abundant in our homes and classrooms.  But if your children are not showing an interest in writing, you may want to consider offering some unique tools to spark their interest.  We keep a set of clipboards out almost all the time in our classroom.  We introduce the clipboards at the beginning of the school year, along with some telephones and calculators in an office dramatic play set-up.  These tools for play inspire the desire for writing that will hopefully last throughout the school year…

Tools for play that inspire by Teach Preschool

Other unique writing tools could include smelly markers, colored pencils, chalk, oil pastels, different types of paint, or even water.  Next, play around with your canvases.  What will the children be writing on?  Chalkboards, cardboard, sidewalks, wood, and dry erase boards are all great canvases for writing practice.  These mini plexiglass easels and window crayons are a great example of using unique materials to spark new interest in the writing process…

Plexiglass easels

If you are working on letter formation, consider using another type of medium for exploring the different shapes of each letter.  Letters can be formed out of scraps of paper cut into strips and then glued on to a piece of paper.  Students can trace letters in glue and then sprinkle them with colored salt or glitter.  Letters can be formed out of play dough or clay.  Here we used yarn to practice letter formation

Yarn letters on the felt board by Teach Preschool

Not only are all of these great ways to practice writing, but the children are also working on building strong muscles in their hands so that the writing process eventually comes easier for them.

4. Offer unique writing experiences

Make writing fun by offering unique writing experiences.  Writing in shaving cream is a blast and one that children won’t soon forget.  And how often do children get the opportunity to make their mark in snow?

Making our mark in the snow by Teach Preschool

Tracing designs on a window on a sunny day is another interesting way to invite your children to write.  You can also offer tracing on a light table

Holiday Window Tracing by Teach Preschool

 

L is for lines by Teach Preschool

5.  Keep a journal

Journaling is a great way for children to practice writing.  It can also be a fun way for children to express themselves creatively.  Invite children to journal about an enjoyable experience that they’ve had either at school or at home.  Children can journal about a story or movie or even their favorite color.  Keep in mind that young children’s first attempts at journaling will probably take the form of drawing pictures and that is okay.  Have the children describe their picture to you or “tell you their story.”  Write it down as best as you can word for word to show children that their words have value.  Here are ten tips for keeping a journal in preschool

Ten tips for Journals in Preschool by Teach Preschool

6.  Set up a writing station

If you have room in your home or classroom, a writing station is a perfect place to invite children to write.  A writing station consists of different types of paper or cards, stickers, writing tools, scissors, and glue.  Varying the materials that you offer in your writing center will keep children interested in coming back.  If you don’t have the space to keep a writing station up permanently, consider offering a temporary writing station for birthdays and holidays.  Children love making cards and gifts for their family and friends, especially around the holidays.  You can read all about our Christmas writing station here…

Christmas writing station by Teach Preschool

Remember that the most important part of all early learning experiences is that they should be fun and based in play.  We want children to associate writing with enjoyable experiences that they are happy to take part in.  How do you make the writing process fun and enjoyable for your children?  Let us know in the comment section below!

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Leave a Comment

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sarah@ How Wee Learn May 3, 2014 at 10:47 pm

What a wonderful post Courtney! I love the emphasis placed on fun – and listening to the child’s cues for their readiness. I use many of these same activities in Kindergarten! Thank you for sharing!

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2 Lani Camarce May 4, 2014 at 7:36 am

This is very interesting and will be very helpful to both children,teacher and even to parents. Thank you for this. :like:

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3 Ana María Merchán May 16, 2014 at 5:55 am

Todo lo anteriormente expuesto son métodos, didácticas y tips muy importantes a la hora de enseñar el ingles a niños-as de preescolar, pero la base fundamental es la apropiación que tiene el docente vinculado con las estrategias con las que va a llevar a cabo su clase, la cual debe ser motivadora, dinámica y sobre todo placentera para que la enseñanza- aprendizaje sea reciproca y significativa.

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4 Gesine Johansson June 22, 2014 at 5:59 am

Really creative ideas for practising! Thanks for the post!
Here is a way how to learn and remember the letters (capitals) the way we teach in Waldorf Schools – through a strong picture.
-For the vowels just show with your body (O= close your arms to a ring, U= arms parallel upp, A= open legs or like an A…..) or just show it on the blackboard in nice colours embedded coloured background.
- For the consonats:
First day:
Step 1: Tell a story you have learned by heart that contains a character or palce charcteristic for a letter. For example about a BEAR (round and beary ) for the B.
Step 2: Also draw a wonderful picture of that bear together with the kids (you on the blackboard, kids with crayons on paper) where you can see the B in that bear (straight back rounded paws for the upper bow and big round belly under) enhance the lines of the B with fat lines.

Second and third day:
Step 3: Draw only the B in same colour as the bear next to the picture – from picture to abstract.
Then start practising the B in big letters with crayons.
Step 4: As you have introduced a few letters start making words (stuck to the characteristic colour for the letter to begin with, it makes the children reckognise the letter through the story).

To make life easy for yourself as a teacher plan which letter to start with and how to go on so you can write words as soon as possible.

Some suggestions:
B for Bear
S for Sail
F for flagg
R for robber walking with a big bag on is shoulder
T maybe a tower
W for wave
G for goose

Have fun!!! The kids will love it!

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