I have posted before about the fun to be had from an invitation to play and today I wanted to introduce the idea of an invitation to ‘write.’ When I say ‘write’ I mean an invitation for a young child to engage playfully with writing and drawing implements as they learn about making marks and that marks communicate messages.
Providing toddlers, preschoolers and children in those first stages of formally learning to write with a variety of interesting and engaging writing tools and purposes for writing helps to encourage an interest in making marks. For example, I recently bought Immy some Crayola crayons that work on whiteboard surfaces and while she was off playing elsewhere I set up a very simple ‘invitation’ by popping the crayons in a container and putting them on a stool alongside the whiteboard of her easel. I pegged the special wiping cloth to the edge of the whiteboard and wrote a welcome message to engage her curiosity.
When Immy discovered the invitation a short time later she immediately engage with the words I had written. “Hmmm….is that my name?” “What else does it say?” “Who wrote that?” She picked up the crayons and started to scribble on the board. Scribbling is an important first stage of mark making and exploring new materials and adults should never dismiss it as unimportant. Immy had never used whiteboard crayons before and her first impulse was to explore their capabilities. Which she did with fevour 🙂
So how can you create a simple invitation to write? Firstly, by introducing new tools and/or surfaces to write on. Not all at once, just every now and then, introduce something new. Here are a few suggestions to get you started…
- Felt tipped markers
- Pens – try different novelty pens like fluoro colours or clicky pens
- Whiteboard crayons or markers
- Fabric markers
- Surfaces – notepads, post-it notes, a wide variety of paper, cards, envelopes, postcards, invitations, chalkboard, whiteboard, sticky labels, diary or journal
Secondly, if you have space you could set up a little writing corner as a space to nurture interest in mark making. It doesn’t need to be complicated. I love this writing and drawing space at Sweetest Jane and you’ll find lots of inspiration on this post via Playful Learning or this one at The Write Start. I love both of these blogs for their inspiring ideas for learning through play and if you are interested to learn more about how children learn to write and how to encourage their development in this area, Jennifer of The Write Start has actually published a book of the same name which is full of important information and playful ideas. You can read more about it here.