| Jul 05, 2007

July 2007 - Early Literacy

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Early Literacy - July 2007 The Write Stuffby Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist, HFL&A

“Let’s take a picnic lunch to the beach tomorrow. Shall we write down the food we want to take?”

Matt, who is three, nods vigorously and reaches for pen and paper. He writes and writes. Matt’s dad studies the list quizzically. The writing looks like choppy ocean waves and continues at length without a break. “Watermelon?” he guesses.

“No!” Matt’s voice conveys dismay. We’re gonna take peanut butter sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies!”

Though indecipherable to Matt’s dad, Matt is already at the second stage of writing. His list demonstrates intended meaning, and is written with purposeful zigzags that begin at the left side of the page and stretch across to the right. He has already moved beyond the first stage of random scribbles that could have appeared anywhere on the page.

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Matt will likely enter the third stage of writing before he goes to school. He is observant of traffic signs and asks about words and letters he notices when out shopping or going for a walk. One day soon he will make marks on paper that look a lot like random letters. When Matt begins to string upper and lower case letters in long, unbroken lines, he will have reached the fourth stage in his writing development.

Matt’s dad knows that reading with his children over the summer is important. He has heard that children need to hear 1000 stories before they are able to read independently. The librarian has told him that school-age children need to read six books over the summer to maintain their current reading level. But he has never really thought about the value of encouraging his children to write too.

Like pail and shovel, sun and sun block, swimsuit and towel, reading and writing go together. The interplay of reading and writing helps children understand the code, structure and meaning of printed words.

The suggestion to make a list for a picnic lunch was a smart thing to do. Matt’s dad encouraged Matt to write something that was of interest and importance to him. As the summer unfolds he will find other great ways to help Matt develop his early writing skills. Together they will:

Use water to paint letters and shapes on the outside wall of their house and sidewalk and watch how long it takes for the marks to disappear in the hot sun

Write and draw in the sand at the beach and in the sandbox with the stick from the popsicle Matt has just eaten or a stick or stone they find on the ground

Create traffic signs and traffic tickets for make-believe play on Matt’s tricycle

Concoct a summer beverage, sandwich or dessert and write down their original recipe

Remember something enjoyable they experienced that day; draw a picture about it and write a few words at the bottom of the picture to record their memory

Matt and his dad already know how to have fun this summer with the write stuff.

Susan Ramsay is the Early Literacy Specialist for Hastings, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington. You can contact her at 613-354-6318 (ext 32)

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