Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A writing table

One of the most-used learning areas of our house is Q's little writing table.  It's in a corner of our kitchen and also functions as a eating space at times.  Thus it's important that it can be moved aside when necessary.  The writing table has looked differently at different stages of her development, but here's what we have now:

The purple box has two drawers.  The top one has stuff to write on.  I put all sorts of stuff in there--old receipts, old greeting cards (birthday cards, etc), little notebooks, coupons....I try to put anything in there that I think will grab her interest.  The bottom drawer has crayons.  The top also lifts up and holds scissors, small colored pencils, a sharpener, a gluestick, and two large pencils.  On top of the plastic box is a wooden block with holes drilled in it that holds markers.  I always use these for my markers and train all my students and kids to return markers immediately after use.  I can't stand un-lidded markers rolling around, drying out.  :) 
Right now she also has a giant pencil on her writing desk that Daddy got her.  The little brown basket has magnetic letter tiles that she is enjoying right now, and then the glass jar has little shamrock sequins that she was gluing for March. 
Under her desk is a wicker basket with more writing stuff.  Notebooks, stickers, dry-erase board, stores all the stuff that isn't currently being used.  Q can definitely access this stuff if she wants to, but she usually sticks to the items in the purple drawers. 
Also, since the picture was taken, she's developed a bit of a tape obsession, so I am letting her keep my tape dispenser on her writing table. 
At least once a day she sits and writes/cuts/tapes/glues (depending on her current interests) something.  I love to see her self-motivation and to watch her initiate her own literacy development.  She writes signs (NO BITING, BEAUX (our cat)), she draws pictures for everyone she loves, she cuts stuff into teeny pieces and she covers everything with tape.  In the meantime her fine motor skills are becoming very well-developed and she is picking up a wealth of emergent literacy skills.  Often she will tell me she is writing something for Grammie (or whomever) and I will say, "what letter will you write so we know it's for Grammie?"  And when she answers I offer to help her, or find the G in her letters so she can see what it looks like.  I gently scaffold her learning when I feel like she is welcome to the idea. 

So....I would encourage you to keep an accessible writing area.  Try changing out the items occasionally to catch their interest.  Try leaving a note to them that you've written--Q loves when I do that!  Make writing seem important and necessary and fun!  Sometimes I ask Q to write a sign for me--like if I need to remember to pick up meat from my meat co-op I've had her write an "M" on a paper and we taped it on the door to remind us. 

For younger ones--toddlers--get a writing box that can be moved.  That's how we initially got started with the purple drawer box.  I kept it on top of the fridge and got it down for Q when she wanted to write (or when I set her to the task of writing because she needed something to do.)  She wasn't developmentally ready to have access to writing materials all the time and still needed some supervision, so a movable box worked perfectly--the supplies were easily at hand, but could also be put up for safety. 
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