As you may remember from my post about letters to Santa, one of my goals for 2010 is not only to write more notes for my daughter, but also to let her see me writing more.
Modeling writing is important, as it is one way to help her become more comfortable with writing. I have tucked a couple of silly notes and cartoons into her lunch box and written in my journal at the table while she does her homework. It isn't an everyday thing, but it is something I am doing more consciously and consistently
All that thinking about writing and encouraging my daughter to write ultimately led to A Prompt Idea, a new column here at Booklights that will explore writing. Each month, I'll talk about writing and suggest ways to add writing to children's literacy diet.
Even if your child isn't ready to put pen to paper, prompts can open the doors to building vocabulary, honing communication skills, and being creative. Varying the outlets for writing and communicating is as important as offering different types of reading materials. With that in mind, I am going to use the concept of writing prompts as the foundation of to create literacy prompts. So let's get started ...
Prompts are like open-ended questions. They can help you bypass the yes-or-no answer, but sometimes nothing comes back. The question "What did you learn today at school?" is a great example. As parents, we're thinking, after six hours, Sammy should have lots to tell us. Sammy is thinking Geez, I don't know; so much happened where should I start? I can't remember. The proverbial brain freeze.
The same thing happens when we ask kids to "write about anything you want." That works for some kids, but for others it is too broad. That's where prompts can help. A writing prompt is a "device" to narrow the focus and help you start writing.
There are prompts for every type of writing, from creative to narrative to topical, on all kinds of topics, and lots of children's books. In the months to come, we'll explore many of them. For now, I've included a selection of resources at the end of this post. As you'll see, there is no shortage of writing prompt lists and prompt generators (based on words you plug in). Although many sites are for authors or educators, they can be helpful to parents, too.
Here are some Prompt Ideas for February. As part of this series, I will close each post with some writing prompt suggestions focused on topics relevant to that month.They may be helpful in just talking about ideas, dinner conversation, or as the start of a writing project.
If you haven't yet read it, Jen's latest Literacy 'Lights from the Kidlitosphere includes a link to Melissa Wiley's Saturday Snapshots post about her dad converting photographs to coloring pages for her kids. A picture is worth a thousand words, right?
These are just a few of the events and days of recognition/awareness for February. If you have a prompt idea for one of these themes or another one, I hope you'll add it in the comments.
Places to find Writing Prompt Ideas
Within the Grammar and Composition section of About.com, there is a list of 400 topic suggestions for paragraphs and essays.
Children's authors Glen and Karen Bledsoe have built a robust website with all types of starter ideas for adult writers, young authors, and teachers, that is also an informative resource for parents.
Daily Holidays on the Net lets you search for holidays, awareness days, and days of recognition on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
images found via Google Image Search
Spilled Milk Writing Prompt Template - Make Learning Fun website
Mom and daughter painting - Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio blog
Mom writing note with daughter - ClearWisdom.net
Sketches are from the Microsoft Clipart Gallery