In the scope of human history, writing is relatively new.
We can find direction in our struggle to improve our own writing by following the child as she develops writing:
- Preparing the eye, ear, hand and arm
- Practicing with the tools
- Working with the sounds
- Using all the skills together
- Appreciating and developing her writing
Preparing the Eye, Ear, Hand and Arm
Everyday activities enjoyed in the Primary class (for children 3-6) prepare us for the step by step and left to right processes we will use in writing.
Increasing our vocabulary with names of things in our everyday environment gives us more to say in our writing.
Enjoying books with friends gives us the idea that written works offer something of value.
Having fun discriminating qualities of materials, using words to describe them, prepares us for descriptive writing.
Little jobs like paper cutting strengthen our hands for holding a pencil.
Challenging ourselves early to match the cylinder with the space in the block, we use the pincer grip we will later use for writing.
The pincer grasp can also be seen in our careful handling of other materials.
Polishing shoes — and windows and other things — prepares our arms for the movement of the hand across the page.
Precision used in baking gives us even more control.
Practicing with the Tools, Metal Inset and Chalk on Chalkboard
It is a happy day when our teacher presents the Metal Insets. This is the material we will use to perfect the use of the pencil.
We can choose three colors, one for tracing the frame, one for tracing the inset and one for writing up and down inside our finished, double-lined design.
First, we trace the frame — in this case, an equilateral triangle.
Then, we hold the inset carefully over the first line drawing and trace it. This illustration shows a quatrefoil shape.
Having traced the frame and the inset, we are ready to write up and down inside the space created.
Just experimenting with chalk on the large chalkboard, we can use our entire arm to create lines, up and down, around and in all directions.
Eventually, we practice on a smaller chalkboard on a table. This is more like writing on paper.
Using the sounds, separately and together, with the Sandpaper Letters and the Moveable Alphabet
From the beginning, while we were still pouring water, playing with sounds in the “I Spy” game and looking at books, we noticed the Sandpaper Letters. They are sometimes displayed on a shelf or rack and sometimes found in a big box on the shelf.
As it turns out, these are the sounds from which all words are made. Say the sound and trace it and it’s yours!
We practice tracing symbols for sounds we know with the Sandpaper Letters for a while. We play games, hiding them around the room and thinking of all the words we know that can begin or end with them or have them in the middle.
When we can identify and trace several sandpaper sounds we begin using the Moveable Alphabet to make words. Here’s an example of a large one sitting on a low table near the floor. It’s out all the time, convenient for writing with only a mat. Later, when we can carry the large boxes, we may choose from a number of moveable alphabets. We begin to put together any words we want.
Here’s a girl who has carried two mats and a Moveable Alphabet to a space on the floor. She’s looking for the first sound of the first word in her story.
This story was written with a small Moveable Alphabet. The letters are printed on pieces of paper. It’s a tory about a flower that was “starting to die.”
Here’s a story about the First Day of School. The boy who has written it is now copying it on a piece of paper. We don’t always copy the stories we write. Sometimes we write stories that are so long we cannot copy — or even read them yet. We do enjoy writing them, though!
As we learn more about sounds, we find out that several sounds are made of two letters together. We practice these sounds — and prefixes and suffixes — using two small Moveable Alphabets of different colors.
Using our Skills All Together
When we begin to put all of our skills together, to write on paper, we sometimes go back to the Sandpaper Letters to remind ourselves of the shapes of the letters and the place to start the letter. This girl is using a clipboard and a small piece of lined paper.
This story about losing a tooth includes an illustration.
It is easy to become very involved when there is something to say and you finally know how to say it in writing!
Occasionally we’ll stop and tell you what we are writing.
Using writing helps us learn things like the names of the states.
Sometimes reading gives us ideas for stories.
We use writing to collect information we read on cards, sometimes. Then, we put the pieces of information together in the order we like and copy them to create a report. Finally, we may read the report aloud to our friends.
Here, someone is illustrating a report about the Land of the Two Rivers.
After much practice, you may see one of us writing and writing in a journal, just putting down our thoughts about something. The mechanics come naturally at this point and the work is mainly put into deciding exactly what to write and how to say it.
Appreciating and Developing Our Writing
Adults model cursive for us and occasionally use writing on a board to let us know about an upcoming lesson.
We are pleased that we can use our writing skills to demonstrate, for example, that we know the names of several different kinds of triangles.
It’s fun to work together to create charts and timelines. This can require a great deal of writing.
Attending to a lesson about the origins of our alphabet gives us an appreciation of the work of people who came before us and of the power of this tool they created.
Cutting up long sentences and categorizing their phrases by the questions they answer gives us more ways to describe events.
Sharing our delight in an author’s description of a character with someone else increases our awareness of technique, too.
When practiced with keyboarding, we can copy our writings, format them and create final drafts ready for publication!
We are off to a good start and are confident that we will have ideas and discoveries worth writing about.
Do you write? Do you prefer pen, pencil or keyboarding? Do you have favorite writers?
Thank you for reading our blog.