Stretching Out Ideas in Writing

“Writing …hummm…some kids love it, some kids hate it,” said one parent to another. I think all children start somewhere with their writing skills. All children can grow to like, and dare say, even love writing! While we have discussed how watching children blossom with reading is fantastic; it is equally impressive watching them grow into a wondrous writer!

At an early age, as young as five or six, your child is a writer.  Yes, it may be putting simple letters like a “P” and “G” next to a picture of a hand drawn pig. Nonetheless, it is writing. Soon enough, by the age of seven or eight, their writing begins to take shape and you can hear your child’s “voice” in their writing.

Beginning writers stretch out their ideas, starting with stretching out their sentences. One idea is playfully labeled “Rollercoaster Writing”.  Just like thrill lovers hold their arms up when the rollercoaster is going up, you have your child hold their arms up when creating a sentence. They think of a good sentence in their head with their arms held high, and then take their arms down to write the sentence. This will help to create a better sentence in a fun way. When they are actually writing the sentence, they can concentrate on their handwriting, starting with a capital, spelling the words correctly, etc. This fun activity encourages creative and well- written sentences.

Another idea is to have your child start out with a very simple sentence with a simple subject and verb, such as: The dog barked. Next, ask your child to add two details by adding one adjective and one adverb. Then you might have them add a clause or two, like when or where the sentence takes place. The end result could end up being something like: Every day after school, the young dog barked excitedly as Jack got off the bus.

The other part of this activity is to have your child illustrate a picture for each step of this writing process. The first picture is of a dog - plain and simple. The next picture your child may add a talk bubble that says, “ruff...ruff”. Then in the third picture, maybe a house where the dog is waiting would be added. And lastly, a big yellow school bus with a boy getting off could be added. These pictures with the words matching each picture, are then taped together sequentially and horizontally. Your child will be able to see how the more descriptive details they add to their sentence, the more vivid the picture for the reader.

Both of these sentence stretching activities can be practiced over and over to help expand your child’s ideas about writing.  Let’s be proactive about encouraging our children to develop a love for both reading and writing.