Today we are proud to feature an article written by Malia of Playdough to Plato. This excellent blog is committed to providing parents effective and entertaining literacy activities that can be completed within 20 minutes. I know! Lovely!
Malia graduated from the University of Arizona with an honors degree in Elementary Education and received a Masters in Education from Stanford University. In 2011, she was named a National Board Certified Teacher – the highest level of certification a teacher can receive. Not only are her ideas fun, but we know she is a trustworthy source too.
There’s something magical about children’s writing. Maybe it’s the simple illustrations or the creative spelling of words. Or maybe it’s the unexplainable way that five-year-olds can turn embarrassing family stories about burned Thanksgiving turkeys into funny, treasured memories.
When I taught kindergarten, I particularly loved watching my students move through the first two stages of writing. They began by drawing pictures. They could make a sun, sand and ocean waves perfectly capture their family trip to the beach. And then something clicked, and they would begin adding letters and words to their illustrations. Teachers call this labeling and seeing it for the first time always made parents beam with pride.
My favorite way to introduce labeling to children is an entertaining post-it game that I affectionately call “Stick It!” To play, brainstorm body parts with your child and write each one on a different post-it. Draw a simple picture to help your child remember the word that is written.
Next, tell your child that she is going to practice labeling her body by sticking the post-its in the right spot. It may help to point out the helpful picture clues you drew so that she learns how to “read” the post-its on her own. The game ends when all of the post-its have been attached to the right body part.
Play the game several times and then invite your child to “write” a story of her own by drawing a picture of a recent family event. The topic could be as normal as taking a walk with the dog or as extraordinary as visiting Disneyland.
After your child draws her illustration, explain that writers label their pictures just like she used the post-its to mark her body. Encourage her to add two or three labels to her picture. She might include a single letter or could chunk several together. Whatever she writes down, it’s worth celebrating. Labeling shows that your child is taking her next step in writing.
Oh, and I should mention that even though my 2.5-year-old isn’t ready to label his stories, he loved playing this game too. I read each word, pointed out the matching picture and then he stuck it in the right spot. His smile says it all. This is a must-try activity.
What other writing games do you play? Share in the comments.
Malia is a former kindergarten teacher turned stay at home mom who shares hands-on reading, writing and math games at Playdough to Plato. Stop by to download a free set of alphabet tracing cards and follow the blog by email.