Garrett did his book project on Winter: An Alphabet Acrostic by Steven Schnur. Garrett wrote and illustrated his own acrostic poem. He chose the “I, for Igloo” page as his beginning point, but wrote his own poem to go with it. That is, we utilized assisted writing to help him on his journey to becoming a writer. First, Mom quizzed Garrett on his knowledge and ideas about igloos and Mom wrote the poem line by line with Garrett’s input and approval. He presented his poem to the family at dinner.
Here is his poem:
Icy blocks of snow
Glow in the twilight
Looking like eggs
Out of which peek
Our people who built them.
Why Assisted Poems and Stories Are Helpful
Kids don’t develop and learn in all the same ways. Assisting young kids in writing provides them scaffolding as they learn. Sadly, some kids quickly lose their writer’s voice because the physical task of writing can be so cumbersome before muscle control is fully developed. Some young kids will take right off, coloring full pictures in coloring books, practicing drawing, and writing, writing, writing even before they really know how to form letters. They may not be slowed down when it comes to the task of writing a story or a poem. Others though, stop saying all they want to say because they fear how long it will take them to get all their ideas down. Sharing the pen with reluctant writers can allow them to be free with their thoughts and ideas without fear of that huge task of doing all the writing themselves.
How To Assist
To assist with writing, mom, dad, or teacher needs to be a good listener. Listen to the ideas and write them down, even before they are perfectly formed. Just feeling like their ideas are worth writing down can be massively encouraging to a little one. Once the ideas are down, you can make small suggestions about how to put it together and ask questions about what exactly will be put on the final paper. Make sure it isn’t your writing and ideas, but theirs.
Once kids reach the point where they can do some of their own writing I like to use 2 pens – a normal pen that I write some words with, and a highlighter that I write other words, following up by having my kids trace over them. I typically choose phonetic words for them to trace over that they can also practice sounding out as they write. Eventually, more and more words are highlighted until they are tracing the whole thing.
Mastering Spelling and Punctuation
The next step after tracing is for kids to start spelling their own words. We do this the same way. I spell the difficult words and they spell the simpler ones. Eventually, they do more and more of the writing on their own as they master the language. We also talk about kinds of punctuation to use as we go along.
Bit by bit, they take over more of the pen until their are off on their own, hopefully still full of enthusiasm and ideas! When the process is gradual like this, kids can keep the ideas flowing and not feeling overwhelmed. They tend to be more confident about writing long stories instead of cutting them short. They often learn to love writing for the sake of their ideas and stories, undaunted by the huge learning curve that comes with handwriting, grammar, and spelling.
More From Layers of Learning
Hope you’ll check out even more from Layers of Learning. We love helping families learn and sharing what works for us. Go visit the Writer’s Workshop page for lots of ideas, and then follow us on social media to keep up with what’s new at Layers of Learning.