Literacy Spot #18: Invitations to ‘Write’

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 πŸ™‚

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…

  • Crayons
  • Pencils
  • Felt tipped markers
  • Pens – try different novelty pens like fluoro colours or clicky pens
  • Chalk
  • 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.

What is Childhood 101β€²s Literacy Spot? It is a weekly reminder of the importance of young children learning playfully as each week I share one idea for playing around with literacy, taken from my many years working as an early childhood teacher. Visit the previous Literacy Spot posts for more fun ideas for playing with literacy.


  1. Whiteboard crayons, sounds interesting!

    Lots of writing going on here at the moment. The words seem to be tumbling out of Doots and almost overnight she’s writing the words to songs and rhymes she’s made up, with really very good attempts at spelling. As well as numbers (in the form of phone numbers, birthdates, ages), labelling the objects in her drawings and even writing simple tunes in the form of written musical notes (she’s been learning to read music for a little while). It is so exciting to watch, and it reminds me of that earlier phase of language and speech development – the way it all comes in a big rush!

  2. We’ve just been playing with whiteboard crayons – but they are such a bugger to wipe off even when you use the supplied eraser. But I’ll live with it because my 2.5 year old has loved covering the whiteboard with layers and layers of scribbles which have been his first real attempts at free drawing at home – and he has been scribbling quite hard!!

  3. Wonderful post. Thanks for featuring my little spot! πŸ™‚ It really did surprise me, when I created this little spot, how much they gravitated to it. I didn’t know if they’d be very interested in it or not.
    I love some of your suggestions of introducing new little things to them here and there– especially the little surprise message to Immy. Such a fun idea.

  4. Bernadette- Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas says:

    This is a wonderful idea! I love to leave supplies out in the open for my girls to “find” and explore with. They are a bit older and are very into learning to write (my youngest) and trying to spell (my oldest) so I try to encourage their curiosity.

    I have to check into these crayons! Are they better to work with than the markers? Those tend to get so messy and still leave marks on the whiteboard which my girls do not like when they erase.

    I am an excited new mommy/educator follower! Looking forward to what else you have in store!


    PS – love that pouring paint idea! I know my girls would love it – just not sure If I a brave enough to tackle the mess πŸ™‚

  5. Thanks for all the great links and ideas. I have a reluctant writer – she has perfectionistic tendencies and therefore doesn’t write spontaneously. Your post makes me want to try harder to engage her.

  6. What a wonderful post! Thank you for the link πŸ™‚ I love the whole room that you set up for your children – it is truly inspiring…

  7. This post is so inspiring, Christie! I love what you did with the white board crayons — I have to find some of them and leave them out for my little one to discover, just as you described. Thank you for mentioning my blog and book too! I really am wildly enthusiastic about all of the scribbles and stories and such… it’s so much fun to watch what children create!

    Thanks again πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you for saying so, Jennifer, I am a long time fan of your blog πŸ™‚

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