Only five shorts weeks into school the kids are not only working on writing sentences, but putting several sentences together to create a book. This is an extremely hard concept for the young. They tend to only want to put one topic on each page. In their minds they told their whole story when they drew a colorful picture and put a few letters down. Once they see a clean sheet of paper they want to tell a different story. But now we are teaching them to expand their thoughts.
One child may draw a pumpkin on their paper and below it write “PMKN”. Not bad for phonetically sounding it out. If you ask them to tell you about the picture they will ramble on for five minutes on how they went with their family to the pumpkin patch, went on a hayride, and then picked out a pumpkin to bring home. Then they carved it out, put a candle in it and baked the pumpkin seeds for a snack. Wow, what a great story! But how do I get a five year old to put that entire thought onto paper?
Using the word wall, the kids are able to find the words First, Next, Then, and Last. Now the kids have a tool to start their writing. Using each one of the words above on a separate page, they are able to organize their thoughts one piece at a time. Page one may read “I wnt to the pmkn pat wit mom.” Now they turn to the second page and expand on that thought. “Next I gt a pmkin.” Turning to page three they say “Then Dad crvd the pmkn” On the last page they finish their masterpiece by writing “Last I at(e) sedz.”
Voila! They just create their own book. These future authors were able to tell a whole story and offer a scribbled illustration to go with each page. The written version may be severely shortened from the verbal story, but they were able to get their thoughts onto the paper enough where anyone could pick up the book and know what they were trying to express.
I am very impressed with the abilities of these four and five year olds, and I’m sure their families are as well. By the end of this school year they will be able to recognize around thirty sights words and correctly spell these words in their everyday writing. And you know what…the kids love it! They are so excited that they are able to read and write independently. And I am excited that I get to take part in teaching them this valuable skill.