Leina loves writing. She loves stories. She loves check-lists. She loves creating work sheets for her sister. She loves making charts of the weather or her feelings or her toys. She loves to write. However, I have discovered that as much as Leina loves to write, she hates being forced into it. If asked to write 4 sentences for a homework assignment, she will moan and groan and flail her body about for hours. If left alone to do as she pleases, she can pump out a twelve page, self-bound book with illustrations in under 20 minutes. Why? Why! Is it so horrible to have some direction?
Apparently, yes. Yes it is.
So I’ve been looking for ways to sneak in writing lessons without her knowing they are “lessons”. Luckily for me (or unluckily for Leina depending how you look at it), I am very sneaky. Some would even go so far as to call me devious. But I think that’s a bit much really. One valuable ally I recently discovered in my quest for fun writing activities is the book “The Write State: A Guide to Nurturing Writing at Every Stage, From Scribbling to Forming Letters and Writing Stories” by Jennifer Hallissy. I must say, this is a fabulously fun book. All of the writing activities are presented at multiple levels from brand new to holding a pencil tots to serious kid authors and everything in between. And these are not “writing topics” Oh no! That would be too obvious. These assignments are cleverly cloaked in the form of games. Leina doesn’t stand a chance. Hee hee hee.
Last night, I pulled out the book and devised my first sneak writing attack. It was old school fun to me but totally new and novel to her. Say hello to your old friend, the fortune teller….
You remember these, right? You pick a color and then open and close the paper puppet as you spell out the word picked. How sneaky is that?!?! You can make it harder by merely coloring in the top square thereby forcing the unwitting child to spell the color from memory. Memory people! Think of the possibilities! Forget colors, how about putting spelling test word on there? Your kid could be learning without even noticing it! The mind boggles, I tell you.
Inside, I used letters as the second tier. I made sure to pick a bunch way at the end of the alphabet which makes my kids have to recite the letters in order over and over. Oh… I love it! And to top it off, I made sure my “fortune” was more that just Yes or No. You can bet I stuffed as many words as possible under each flap!
Both girls adored this little paper finger fun. They loved asking the questions and also telling the fortune. I plan on folding up a blank one of these and leaving it in Leina’s room today. I can hardly wait to see what she comes up with on her own.
There are several other ideas in this book I may just try. There are blank “coupons” in the back just dying for a child to fill out. A recipe for invisible ink. A Morse code cypher. I wish I had found this book earlier as there are many ideas for kids who are working on drawing letters and learning A-B-Cs. Sadly, those days are behind us. Sniff. But I think this is a book worth taking a peek at if you are looking for inventive ways to engage early writers. You can check out her blog for more of her ideas too!