Tips for writing at home.
Below is a range of resources designed to support pupil’s acquire the skills they need to be successful learners in St Mary’s and beyond.
The resources are simply designed to be guides and as such some of the ideas maybe difficult for some children to use as every child is different and learn’s in their own way. If you wish to discuss these guides further, and other ways to support your child’s learning then please contact your class teacher.
Parental Guides and Information
Creative writing is something we can all agree is an essential part of education that has trackable benefits through all of the key stages, from using your imagination to create your first character, to picturing a problem-solving process. We’ve condensed Alyson’s top tips for the primary classroom, and included a handy poster (which you can download and print for free!).
- Write about the things you know.
- Make a list of story ideas and choose your favourite.
- Choose the best setting for your story. A bedroom, a garden, a school? Think about why it is the best setting. Draw it and write a description.
- Make a list of characters and their names, and choose who will be your main character. Think about why they are your main character. Draw them and write a description.
- Get to know your character. What do they look like? What makes them happy, sad, and angry? What is their problem to solve, and what gets in the way?
- Make a list of the things that happen in your story.
- Start writing. If you get stuck, close your eyes and watch what your characters do next (let your imagination show you).
- When you finish, make sure you have included your descriptions so that your readers will be able to imagine what things look like.
- Read your story aloud. This will help you write better sentences.
- Show your stories to others and find out what they like or dislike about it, so you can make it even better.
Writing and the EYFS
Writing, along with reading, makes up literacy, one of the four specific areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). The Early Learning Goals for writing come from both literacy and physical development. They are:
- Writing – children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They also write some irregular common words. They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.
- Moving and handling – children show good control and coordination in large and small movements. They handle equipment and tools effectively, including pencils for writing.
Best practice and activity ideas
Gross motor skills
Learning to write is closely linked to a child’s physical development. Before children can control the muscles in their hands, they need to develop their gross motor skills (those that need large or whole body movements). For babies this means the freedom and space to kick, roll and crawl. And for older children this also means the chance to run, climb, balance, throw, push, pull and swing their arms.
Gross motor skills activity ideas:
- use ribbon sticks to make large circular and zig zag movements in the air
- swing and hang from climbing frames
- lift and move heavy objects
- paint with large rollers and brushes on a vertical surface (like a wall or easel)
- marching to music
- anything that encourages children to stretch their arms above their heads.
Fine motor skills
As soon as a baby starts to show that they’re beginning to control their movements, you can encourage fine motor skills (precise, small muscle movements). Hand eye coordination is a key part of this so provide babies with a range of interesting objects to grasp, squeeze, pat and poke. By handling objects, children are strengthening their hands and fingers, so that they can grip a pencil.
Fine motor skills and hand strength activity ideas:
- use small droppers to drop water on to a target
- use a spray bottle to fire water on to a target
- screw up small pieces of paper
- open and close zip loc bags using index finger and thumb
- squeeze sponges to move water from one container to another
- pop bubble wrap
- push pipe cleaners through the holes of a colander
- prod, poke, squeeze and roll play dough or push it through a garlic press
- pick up small objects and put them in compartments or a cupcake tray
- twist and open containers with lids.
Before children are able to form letters, they need to learn how to make marks. These marks can be with their finger in yoghurt on their high chair tray or pictures they’ve drawn or painted. They’re working out how writing works, how to hold their pencil, what pressure to put on the paper and how to control the marks they make.
It’s important to have mark making and writing resources available for children to use in every area of the early years provision in your setting – including outside. Children need space to explore making marks and boys in particular may enjoy making large scale marks on the floor where they can stretch out. You could use the backs of rolls of wallpaper for this or use chalk or water on the floor outside.
Fancy mark making to music or using charcoal to support children’s writing skills? Take a look at the interviews and the Early Years Creative Toolkit on our Expressive arts and design in the EYFS page to find out how.
Writing and language
When babies first start to scribble, it’s simply a physical activity. But through interactions with adults, they’ll learn that these marks have meaning and can convey thoughts and feelings. It’s helpful to talk to children about what they’ve produced as it gives them confidence to experiment more with mark making and extends their understanding of how writing works.