writing and gain better control, lined paper provides a useful
guide for their writing.
What types of writing activities are developmentally
Dictation, extensions of predictable text, story starters, and docu-
mentation of specific activities or projects encourage children to
experiment with writing.Children must first construct concepts
about written language before they can begin to write. Story
dictation helps them perceive the relationship between written
and spoken language and can serve as a bridge to actual writing
Just as predictable text supports the emergence of reading, it
can also stimulate children’s writing. Creating greeting cards
based on a repeating text (activity 4.13) or altering the words to
popular songs (activity 4.4) are examples of writing activities
based on a predictable format.
Story starters are a useful tool in motivating children to
write. An image of a favorite story character (activity 4.2) or an
open-ended phrase (activity 4.13) are two types of story starters
teachers can use as writing catalysts.
Documentation of activities or group projects provides a
natural forum for writing. Since children often tell stories as they
create with art materials, teachers can capitalize on the natural
link between art and language by combining art and writing
activities (activities 4.9 and 4.14). Long-range group projects
require documentation in order to preserve the thinking process
that propels the project. Children can help with the documenta-
tion (activities 4.7 and 4.20). They may also be interested in
recording their experiences on field trips (activity 4.11).
What should teachers consider when taking
Teachers should write exactly what children say, regardless of
possible grammatical errors, and create clear print models.While it
is tempting to correct any language mistakes children may make,
this causes confusion when they attempt to read what has been
written. As they look at the corrected words, they mentally repeat
what they originally said but see something different on the paper.
Children gradually correct their grammatical errors as their lan-
guage develops. While teachers will certainly want to model cor-
rect grammar when they talk to children, the goal for dictation is
not to set spoken language models but to help children construct
an accurate relationship between spoken and written language.
Writing Explorations 83