"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Saturday, November 20, 2010

it's all write, ma

Some kids are born doodlers. I was one of them. To me, there was nothing better than a freshly opened 64-pack of Crayolas. I think that may be why I became a teacher, actually--I was in it for the school supplies.

I was a doodler, a colorer, a drawer, and eventually, a writer.

Evan is not one of those kids. I have an entire cabinet full of art supplies that has been largely left untouched. Until Max came along.
I was trying to find a way to get Evan interested in drawing and writing, since conventional Art isn't looking like it's going to be his Thing. And then, I stumbled across the idea of an at-home Writing Center. (Thanks again, Playful Learning!) Why I didn't think of it earlier is beyond me. I am, after all, a former kindergarten teacher. I'm pretty sure our breed INVENTED writing centers. (Thanks for nothin' Mommy Brain!)
Writing Centers are important because they encourage authentic writing. Don't just give your kid a piece of paper and tell him to copy letters that you've pre-written. That's handwriting. I don't care about Evan's handwriting. I want him to WRITE. And to LOVE to write. And to feel inspired to write. That's what a Writing Center does. It's an organized and accessible space for writing materials of all sorts. Here's what ours looks like:
Some of the materials in our Writing Center:
*pencils
*pens
*markers
*crayons
*paper (lined and unlined)
*index cards (white and colored)
*notecards (with envelopes)
*extra envelopes
*a roll of register tape
*sticky notes of various colors and sizes
*spiral notebooks of various sizes
*letter stencils
*letter stamps
*letter stickers
*desk nameplate cards with alphabet strips
*sentence strips
I spent about $35 total (on the mini-drawers, the cork boards, and the Post-It Wall Pockets--are they not the coolest things you've ever seen? They stick on to the wall with sturdy double-sided mounting strips, but are apparently easy to remove and won't damage the wall--I had all of the other supplies left over from my teaching days.) and the center came together in just a couple of hours.
I have seen beautiful Writing Centers with pegboards and acrylic file folders and miniature buckets filled with perfectly new crayons. They're gorgeous but pricey, and I was operating on a budget and a timeline. This works for us.
And look!
He dove right in! In fact, while I was assembling the Center, he grabbed a pencil and a spiral notebook and took Daddy and Max on an Animal Exploring Mission. He looked for animal tracks in our playroom and recorded what he found in his Animal Exploring Notepad. See?! AUTHENTIC WRITING!
Max was into it, too:
But who could resist that drawer full of 64-brand new Crayolas?
Lesson Learned:
If Evan ends up not being an art or words kid, that's alright with me. It's worth it, though, to give him spaces in the house where he can try on all sorts of hats to find what fits. Which reminds me....we are in DESPERATE need of a dress-up box for the I-Don't-Wanna-Wear-a-Costume Kid. I smell a new project!

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