Writing and Pre-Writing

This week's Picnic Table Talk is all about WRITING! Here are some of my thoughts, opinions, suggestions, ideas, and activites that have to do with writing in a Q & A format!

~How do you practice writing with your children?

We use Pre-writing or Writing Warm Ups with our little ones:

These include activities that strengthen the eye-hand coordination and fine muscle control needed for writing, such as:
  • Dressing: I have them zip, button, lace, and snap their own clothing.
  • Sewing: - I have her sew with a large plastic needle and yarn. Button sewing is one of my favorites.
Button sewing from our Tot School time here.
  • Drawing: I encourage lots of this and supply them with pencils, markers, crayons, chalk and more!
  • Tracing: Lots of this is provided in our Get Ready, Get Set, Go for the Code Books- lots of prewriting activities in there!
Tracing with his finger and following the path for letter N activities.
  • Transferring: I have my tot transfer beans, popcorn, cotton balls, pom poms from one container to the next usung tongs or water using an eye dropper or turkey baster.
Transferring cotton balls during out Tot Time here.

Transferring water with droppers.

More hand-eye & fine motor skills.
  • Cutting: I have them cut freely and also along lines and shapes they have drawn.
  • Cutting strips of paper.
  • Folding: "Fold, press, flip" repeated over and over to make an accordian fan.
  • Stringing: String beads, buttons, Cheerios, macaroni or cut up straws.
    Stringing beads, straws, paperclips, coiled pipe cleaners, etc.
  • Writing Devices: Keyboard, Typewriter, label makers, rubber stamps alphabets, magnetic letters...
I tend to be adventurous and let my little ones create letters with pudding, rice, colored sand, cornmeal, whipped cream, finger-paint, clay, play dough, cookie dough, on a foggy window, in the dirt with a stick, or sky-writing - large letters in the air - the possibilities are endless! I especially like to tie this into the letter we are working on - write P's in Pudding, S's in Sand, R's in Rice, etc.

Writing S's in Sand for the letter S.

I like to keep a box filled with different writing supplies to write on - stationary, card stock, printer paper, lined paper, sticky notes, pads of paper, mini- notebooks, index cards, scrap paper, construction paper, graph paper and more!

We also have a large white board, mini white boards and chalk boards for writing!

I also keep a portable "Writing Center" for on the go. A zippered pencil case holds a small pad, index cards, pencils, colored pencils, scissors, and a glue stick. That way they can write anytime, anywhere!

For writing anytime, anywhere!

For little ones, I have them narrate letters to me and I write or type them up for them - they are so happy to have that letter (even if they can't read it!)

We also write messages back and forth to each other in a special "encouragement" notebook.

I try to encourage all forms of writing: scribbles, pictures, letter shapes, letters, pretend writing (Malachi will write pages of this!), and regular writing. The best way to learn to write is by writing!

My favorite resources and inspiration for learning to write (and read!) is Growing Up Reading, Learning to Read Through Creative Play, by Jill Frankel Hauser and A Strong Start in Language and A Home Start in Reading, by Ruth Beechick.

A few concepts from Ruth Beechicks book that I will be implementing more with my preschooler very soon include: 1) copying - I will continue to write models for him to copy; 2) Dictation - I will dictate models for him to write; 3) creative writing - I will let him make up his own writings.

I have lots more examples and you can see more of what we do for writing warm-ups on a regular basis in our Tot School and Preschool posts!

Formal Writing:

Writing for my older children comes in many forms as well:
You can see examples of our notebooking/illustrating here and see how we use Writing Strands here!

~What inspires you to write?

My blog!

~Do you enjoy writing? About What? Why?

I love to write about things that I am passionate about. I love to share the wonderful ways of God and what He is doing in our life. I want to be a light to others by how I live. I try to do all things "heartily as unto the LORD!" and love to share the journey we are on.

~What is the difference between teaching writing and teaching printing?

Writing is a form of expression. Printing to me is forming letters correctly and mastering nice handwriting. I still have my 8th grader practice handwriting - I'm not sure at what point handwriting can be mastered - it requires diligence and patience to keep writing nicely! (I would do well to practice myself!)

~What are your favorite writing utensils?
  • Colored pencils. We do a lot of notebooking and I love to see my kids piled around a big box of colored pencils.
  • The Ticonderoga pencil is my absolute favorite pencil and the only kind I buy! I buy in bulk and love to keep them freshly sharpened! I also like that it has an eraser and encourage my kids to use it often! A pencil sharpener mounted to the wall is a must have around here!
I can't wait to go see what everyone else wrote for this week's topic! Be sure to check it out too at ABC & 123's Picnic Table Talk!


  1. I ordered the books by Ruth Beechick because of your suggestion a while ago, and I love them. She explains things so simply and straightforward. Thanks for the suggestion.

  2. What a great post! Good reminder that all those early activities with manipulatives do have a purpose. I LOVE the Explode the Code primers, too. I've used them with each of my kids so far.

  3. Thanks for the great ideas! I recently discovered your blogs and love them. You are so creative!

  4. great post, you really explained well how you are incorporating writing into your daughters life... thanks for inspiring me!

  5. These are some great ideas that I wouldn't have even thought of--the sewing and such. This post brings back memories of Hanna doing these things in her earliest years of Montessori Preschool.

    I really enjoyed reading this!

  6. Looks like they are keeping busy!!! lol Great post - very informative!

    did I see an email from you somewhere about the aph boutique or was that someone else? lol

  7. Great post! I like it how you showed progression from the earliest forms to true handwriting and writing. Your kids are so lucky to learn from you.

  8. Wow..once again, I'm impressed with the things you do with littlest ones. Two thumbs up!