Writing Center to Encourage Preschool Writing Activities in Preschool
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!
It is a communication center! Preschoolers can deliver their ideas through their illustrations and their printing or attempts at printing.
They learn how to communicate their ideas through drawing and through print. They learn to associate print with reading. They develop their small (fine) muscle skills by using the many materials available.
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!
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
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.
One resource I simply could not do with out is 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!
You can purchase a copy through Amazon. Click link below to go to their website.
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 the following link to go to the THEMES page. Choose your theme and then scroll down to the preschool Writing Activities section:
Below are some of our 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!
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.
Remember that our goal is not turn our preschoolers into kindergarteners. Our goal is to provide preschool writing activites that are developmentally appropriate to each child's age and skill level.
Allowing them the time and opportunity to explore, experiment with and use writing materials will help them to develop their small muscles and become familiar with how to hold them and work with them.