Print-rich environments call out to young children, inviting them to try out their writing and reading skills on a daily basis.

How to Set Up the Writing Center

Provide a motivating assortment of implements -- nontoxic marking pens, ink pens, colored and lead pencils, crayons, dustless chalk, and charcoal sticks. Besides the usual white paper (lined and unlined) and colored construction paper, offer index cards, tablet paper, envelopes, tags, cardboard, coupons, and blank books held together by rings.

Make sure you have a child-sized table and at least two chairs in case someone wants to dictate a story to you. If possible, place a computer safely near an electrical outlet. Don't forget children will also enjoy practicing their writing skills on a typewriter.

Use low shelves as dividers to help organize printmaking materials. To help facilitate children's selection (and cleanup!), store items in clear plastic boxes with matching written labels.

Locate your writing area in a quiet spot next to the library or book corner so children can easily see, read, and incorporate many types of printed materials.

Accessorize!

Keep a storehouse of functional items within easy reach. Hole punches, blunt scissors, nontoxic glue sticks, yarn, stickers, sticky notes, used postage stamps, masking tape, brads, and large paper clips are appropriate writing incentives found and used in the "adult world."

Enhance your center with print samples placed at children's eye level: alphabet letter and number charts, interesting posters, lists of children's names with corresponding photos, and class experience story charts.

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Writing Around the Room

Art Area

  • Provide materials like fingerpaint - children love to use their hands to write in delightful slippery substances on tabletops.
  • Encourage children to use letters and words they know, in addition to drawings and paintings, as they create their stories.

Housekeeping Area

  • Make sure pencils, pens,  and index cards are available for children to write shopping lists and recipes or for any other housekeeping task.
  • Place recycled greeting cards in a basket for children who want to write and send cards to a sick baby doll or a birthday teddy bear!

Dramatic Play-Center

  • Include writing props that might come in handy and enhance children's play, such as a blank roll of tickets, sales receipts, and paper and pencils to make fake money.

Blocks Area

  • Supply sticky notes and markers so children can write and attach names to buildings or make signs.

Library

  • Offer crayons and colorful paper so children can draw and write book review posters to celebrate the books they'd like to share with friends.

Manipulatives

  • Make letters out of sandpaper to challenge children's tactile senses.

Sand and Water Area

  • Put out trays of dry and damp sand along with safe sticks and long feathers for children to use like magic writing slates.

Science Center

  • Keep a science log available so children can continually add their thoughts, observations, and scientific entries and illustrations.