Literacy Helping Your Six-Year-Old Become a Writer

One of the best ways to help children become writers is to show them through example that writing has useful purposes in your life. Point out simple moments when you are writing and explain why. Let your six-year-old see you make a grocery list, write a thank-you note, text a relative, send an email, or write down a funny thing your child said! When your child watches you write and has access to their own writing and art materials, they will feel encouraged to find their own voice — and explore their gifts as a young writer.

Simple ways to build your child's writing skills:

Model Writing

One of the most effective ways to help children become writers is to show them through your own example that writing has useful purposes. Talk to them about how you use writing, from making a shopping list to texting Grandma, from writing down a recipe to keeping a journal. Let them see that writing is a part of daily life.

Make An Invitation

Writing invitations is a fun way to plan for a party. Your child can practice writing invitations or thank you notes, drawing pictures, and signing his or her name.

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Keep Writing Materials Handy

Markers, crayons, pens, pencils, paints, paper, glue, scissors and a stapler: with these materials, kids can create pictures, books, posters, cards and lists. At this age, your child may also enjoy having his own special book, such as a journal or spiral notebook.

A Surprise Party

Your child can use her creativity and letter writing skills to decorate for a surprise party for a friend or family member. Try these decorating ideas.

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Make Time for Family Writing

Many families make room for daily read-aloud time. Try setting aside time at least once a week for writing together — even for 15 minutes. Topics might include imaginative stories, a journal entry, a thank you card, a book review for a website or an email to a relative.

Operation Ice Cream

With new forms of technology and old-fashioned innovations, there are a number of ways to invite friends over for an ice-cream party! Your child will learn words such as communicate and connect. Take it a step further by helping your child make his or her own invitation!

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Encourage Writing During Pretend Play

Children love to play pretend — and writing can be part of this imaginative work. For example, if they like tea parties, encourage them to make invitations for guests, place cards, maps, signs or menus. Keeping writing materials readily available and at child level will help them integrate writing into their pretend play.

Play Pretend: Restaurant

Young children often like to play pretend about real-life occupations. Together with your child, set up a pretend restaurant and act out the roles of customer, waitstaff, and cook.

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Play Word Games

Invest in a few word games that can build your child's reading and writing skills while having fun. Some of these include Scrabble Junior, Boggle Junior, Hangman, Spot It Alphabet, Bananagrams and simple crosswords and word searches.

Silly Story Builders

In this activity, your child can create silly stories in a mad-libs style game.

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Draw a Map

Grab some paper and crayons and work with your child to draw maps of places you both know well. Start with rooms in your home and then branch out to favorite places such as a local park. Use simple shapes to draw and label objects such as furniture or playground equipment. Take a walk around the block together, looking for landmarks to include in a neighborhood map. As kids get more proficient, encourage them to create maps of imaginary worlds or of places in their favorite books or movies.

Play Thinga-Ma-Jigger Hide-And-Seek

You can help your child sharpen their spatial reasoning skills with this hide and seek game. Help guide your child to the location of a hidden object using direction words.

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Make a Shopping List

Make a shopping list as your child sits with you. Name each item you need out loud and let her watch as you write it down. When she is ready, let her write down some of the items. As you say the name of the item out loud, say each sound slowly, for example "M-I-L-K." Ask your child, "What letter do you think starts the word 'milk'?" "What letter do you think comes next?" It is not important for your child to spell the word exactly right. The idea is to help them make a connection between the letter and the sound it makes. "Yes, MMM, the letter M makes that sound."

Supermarket Scavenger Hunt

Your child can develop early language and literacy skills by matching beginning letters and their sounds to items found at the supermarket.

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Create a Nature Journal

When you and your child go outside, take a notebook and pencil with you and become "nature detectives." Use the notebook to record things you see. Encourage your child to look for evidence of living things. These may be things like a hole in a leaf, an insect mound, or a half-eaten nut. When you find something, write it down or draw a picture of it. Try to solve the mystery: "What animal did that or made that?"

Nature Cat Plant Journal

Journaling is a fun way to keep track of plant growth over time. Your child can use this printable Nature Cat plant journal to record her observations.

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Make a Book Together

All it takes to make a book is paper and crayons/markers. Staple pieces of paper together or fold them in half. Invite children to write a story about a favorite topic or activity, such as dinosaurs or playing at the park — a picture and a few words on every page. Once they have filled all the pages, have them read it to you, a younger sibling or a stuffed animal. Help them add the title, author, page numbers — and perhaps even a dedication.

Attack of the Eraser

The Super Readers need your child's help to save Reader Valley from The Eraser. Using word knowledge, your child can change the words in the cartoon to restore Reader Valley and save the day.

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Raise a Reader with Super Why

Super Why introduces children to the power of reading -- and helps kids develop problem-solving skills along the way. Through engaging stories and games, your child can practice key skills like letter identification, word decoding, spelling, vocabulary and comprehension.

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Activity Finder: Learn With Your Six-Year-Old

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