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Writing Center to Encourage
Preschool Writing Activities

The phrase "Preschool writing activities" does not refer to teaching preschoolers to write words that are legible and understandable by all. It does not mean providing activities that turn our preschoolers into kindergarteners. This does not just "happen" for preschoolers! They need practice with the tools! A specific Writing Interest Center provides a focused area for them to explore!

Providing opportunities to practice writing is important to preschoolers’ fine motor and literacy development. These opportunities can be provided in any area of play such as having a clipboard and paper in the Dentist Office in your dramatic play area to a journal (papers stapled together labeled SCIENCE JOURNAL) at the science/discovery table.

A focus on practicing print will typically be found in your Writing Interest Learning Center. This center can be a part of your classroom Library or, as in our classroom, a separate interest center all together!

What is a Writing Interest Center?

It is a communication center! Preschoolers can deliver their ideas through their illustrations and their printing or attempts at printing. 

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE CLASSROOM DESIGN PAGE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HOW AND WHERE TO SET UP

What do children learn when participating in preschool writing activities?

In a Writing Center, preschoolers:

  • Communicate their ideas through drawing and through print.
  • Associate print with reading.
  • Develop their small (fine) muscle skills by using the many materials available.
  • Practice left to right progression in reading.
  • Develop their eye-hand coordination

How should the teacher prepare for Preschool Writing Activities?

The preparation is all in the pre-planning. What concepts or skills do you want to work on? Recognizing their name? "Writing" a story? Pre-plan the materials that you will have available at this interest center for the day or week.

I recomend planning for at least a week. Changing the supplies or materials everyday does not give your preschoolers enough time to openly explore and experiment with the items you've added.

Teachers should be encouraging and promote all attempts at this center. When a child says “That’s my spell!” and shows you a paper with many of the letters of his name on it, focus on his excitement of learning to print rather than the missing letters in his attempt! “Yes! These are many of the letters in your name! Can you tell me which letters you used to spell your name?”

Comment on what you see, not on what is missing or incorrect: “I see that you wrote a LOT today! Look at all that writing! I wonder what you were writing about.” or “Look at all the “E’s” you made! You certainly have been practicing!

Remember that emerging writers in preschool cannot yet write, draw or cut with exact precision. These are skills they are still developing and it is the adults’ role to encourage more of it!

The more practice they are allowed to explore the materials and experiment with how to use them, the more comfortable and agile they will become with them!

Materials for the Preschool Writing Activities

Anything that promotes writing and drawing! Here are some suggestions:

  • Wipe-off cards and dry-erase markers
  • Mini chalkboards and chalk
  • Small stamps and stamp pads
  • A variety of paper-lined, unlined, colored, plain, small large
  • Clipboards
  • Index cards
  • Notebooks

Of course, you’ll want a wide variety of writing mediums including: colored pencils, #2 pencils, markers (both large and thin), crayons (both large and thin) and pens.

To help promote early attempts at writing letters and words, provide stencils, alphabet flashcards and posters.

To help develop their small muscle skills, provide hole punchers, stencils, staplers, tape, glue and scissors.

Choose the materials to be used at the center based on the preschool writing activities and concepts you are working on with your children or the Theme you are working on (Dinosaurs, etc.).

For example, with a dinosaur theme, add dinosaur stamps, stencils, pictures, etc.

For themed ideas for your writing center, CLICK HERE to go to the Themes Page of this website! Choose your theme and then scroll down to the preschool Writing Activities section: 

Recommendation

The Creative Curriculum for Preschool, 4th edition by Diane Trister Dodge. Click here or the picture to the right to check out Amazon's prices and availabitly and to read reviews on this book.

This is one book I simply could not do with out:  The Creative Curriculum by Diane Trister Dodge. I believe every classroom should have one! If your program does not have a copy, check your local library or bookstore. It is a wealth of information on interest centers and could not be more developmentally appropriate!  

Some of My Favorite Preschool Writing Activities

Laminated Name Cards

Materials needed: Name tag for each student, picture of each student, laminator

You can make the name tags using construction paper, actual name tags purchased at a store or any paper!

Print the child's name on the name tag.

Tape the child's picture next to their name (use either a glue stick or tape. We found that using school glue "bleeds" the ink in the picture if it is printed on regular print paper rather than photo paper)

Laminate the paper.

Have these name tags at your writing center every day.

The children love to see their own picture and will begin to recognize not only their own name in print, but that of their friends as well.

EXTENSION: Provide low-odor dry erase markers with the name tags as a preschool writing activity! They can trace their name with the markers and then erase and trace again!

I recomend that you NOT have other paper at the table when doing this activity. Although they are low-odor markers, the smell they produce when used on paper is very strong.

Word Wall or Word Box

Materials Needed: index cards, markers, wall area or nicely decorated shoe box or bin.

As children are encouraged to print more and more, they will want to know how to print specific words. As children ask you how to spell a word (our requests have been Mom, Daddy, love, flower, etc.), print the word on an index card, draw a picture of the word next to it and hang it on the wall at the writing center or place it in a decorated shoe box or a bin labeled "WORD BOX".

As the word requests increased, our Word Box became very busy and it took too long for them to find the word they wanted, so we started hanging them on the wall which we labeled "WORD WALL".

SUGGESTION: At circle time or large group time, show the children any new words you've added to your Word Box or Word Wall so that they know what the word says. Great word recognition activity!

Picture Captions

Talk with your preschoolers as they draw and use the materials in this interest center. Ask them to describe what they are doing. Write down what they say in the exact way they say it. This can be used as a "caption" for their picture! You could also save this picture or writing with your dictation in a portfolio to help with assessment later in the year.

Laminated Sheets for Practice

As you know, I am NOT a fan of preschoolers all sitting at tables, practicing printing in a 'drill 'n kill' fashion. Hands-on activities at interest learning centers  are what draw children in, grab their attention and help them to practice in a way that is encouraging and not in a way that sets them up to fail.

This happens when we expect children to "stay within the lines", etc. at this age.  There is a time and place for that later, right now, let's focus on developing those muscles so they CAN control the muscles needed to stay within the lines!  

With all that said, I AM a big fan of having laminated papers and dry erase markers (low-odor) at the Writing Center.   There are so many options to choose from to help develop so many skills such as:  zig-zag and straight lines; letters, numbers, etc!  A great site for free preschool printables and worksheets is Print 'N' Practice!  

Make it fun.  Let them use these materials at Interest Learning Centers like the Writing table or make laminated menus for the Dramatic Play center---add writing across your curriculum!

Materials for Preparing Preschool Printables for Use Over and Over Again!

Go to Interest Center MAIN Page for more Interest Learning Center Choices!

Go to Preschool Plan It's HOME Page