We all know just how important summer reading is -- but what about summer writing? Our preschoolers need weekly writing practice to develop their fine motor skills, and help prepare them for kindergarten. Writers also make fantastic readers!
While early writing is important, the last thing your preschooler needs is an endless stack of worksheets or the handwriting police hovering over him as he works. Writing, especially during the preschool years, needs to be FUN.
Many young children become frustrated with writing. Often, their first writing experiences are handwriting driven. If a child has difficulty forming letters, he/she will tend to shut down and quickly lose interest in writing. The following activities and ideas support early writing skills through art and play. Your child can get the practice he/she needs without the frustration that typically stems from traditional writing activities.
Here are 5 ways to have fun writing with your preschooler this summer.
1. "Green" Writing
I don't know about you, but my kids tend to fly through paper. Even though we encourage our children to use both sides of the paper and make use of scratch paper, I love finding greener ways for my kids to practice their writing. Consider investing in a white board or Magna Doodle. Items like these allow your child to draw and write over and over again without the fear of making a mistake or "wasting" a page.
● Magna Doodle or similar magnet writing/drawing board (these magnet writing boards are also a fabulous item to keep in the car for practice on the go!)
● Dry erase board
2. Messy Writing
My kids LOVE to get their hands dirty. I love when play inspires learning. These hands-on ideas are great for days when your child has grown weary of regular pencil and crayon practice. A creative and tactile medium may lead to longer practice time with less frustration.
● Write with shaving cream: Squirt a small dollop of shaving cream onto your kitchen table or a vinyl placemat, and allow your child to practice his/her name, letters, numbers, etc. Make a mistake? No problem with shaving cream! Simply show your child how to smooth away the writing surface and start again!
● Finger paint: Combine art with writing practice. While your child won't gain practice with grip, he/she has the opportunity to work on letter formation and the ability to copy shapes/lines.
● Write with dirt paint: Dirt paint is another fun alternative for summer learning. The novelty of the activity is sure to keep your child interested all while he/she gains practice using a paintbrush and has the opportunity to work on drawing and writing.
3. Sidewalk Chalk
Sidewalk chalk is one of summer's simple pleasures. It also happens to be an excellent vehicle for writing practice. As you and your child decorate the driveway, not only can you talk about colors and shapes, but you can also encourage your child to practice name writing, as well as letter and number recognition.
4. Draw and Scribble
Those first pictures and scrawls across the page are an important first step in the writing process. When your child draws a picture or makes those adorable lines and squiggles, he/she is telling a story! Find out more about picture writing in this article I wrote for Scholastic earlier this year.
5. Pretend Play
There are so many opportunities for learning and skill practice during playtime. Choose a pretend play activity that includes a writing component. Play restaurant and have your child write down your order. Play doctor and have your child write up care instructions. Draw a pirate's treasure map or pretend to work for the local newspaper. Your child will get valuable fine motor practice as they write while they play. Remember that even "pretend" writing (like those classic squiggly lines) are developmentally appropriate and great practice.
Early writing can be FUN. Look for ways to incorporate writing into your playtime throughout the summer.