Creative Writing to enhance reading
Reading provides great scaffolding for learning to write but writing also helps students to further develop their reading skills. It exposes learners to the letter shapes and to spell or write words, they need to sound them out. Remember, our brain is not wired to read and write so developing these skills require a lot of effort. But the more they practice, the more automatic the skills get!
When it comes to writing with children, we need to use activities that are interesting and motivating to engage them. Start small with gradual steps up from letter to word to sentence to paragraph level. It is important that we support learners based on their current abilities and offer a healthy level of challenge because we don’t want to make writing too easy -as they get bored-, nor make it too hard as this can easily lead to frustration.
How can I support my child at home with writing?
To give you child opportunities to consolidate their reading skills and their letter-sound knowledge, we have listed some creative writing activities below you can use at home. Make sure you select or adapt the activities so it matches your child’s developmental and learning level. Don’t forget to build on what your child already knows and only use words they know in English.
|Letter or word level||A4, scissors, colour felt-tips or pens.|
A very simple way to consolidate letter-sound relationships and practice letter formation is by writing in a mini-booklet. Making the mini-booklet is a fun way to get them started. You can help them fold the booklet, whilst showing them how to fold it and saying the instructions:
- Select one sound you want to work on eg. /s/
- Revisit the movement or actions they have learned for the sound /s/
- Get them to say ‘ssssnake’ and draw an S in the air
- Next, get them to write the grapheme S on the cover of the booklet and decorate it.
- On each page of the booklet get your child to draw a word that starts with the selected sound, eg a sock, sand, soap. They can write the word underneath or you can help them. For each sound, you can make a mini-booklet. But of course, you also write a short sentence for each word on each page.
|Word or sentence level.||A4, colour felt-tips or pens, or mini-whiteboard (MWB). A MWB is a photocopiable sleeve with a sheet of blank paper inside to write on) and markers. Easy to clean and reuse J|
Use words your child knows the meaning of, they could be from a story you have read with your child. Ideally select nouns, for example – banana, giraffe, apple, snake etc.
- Tell them they are going to write shaped-words and show an example (see above).
- Copy or write the word out on paper or a MWB first to practice letter formation.
- Think about the shape of what the word represents (see the giraffe)
- Rewrite the word in a similar shape on paper, on a MWB or in their a mini-booklet
- if you want to extend this, get your child to write a short sentence with the word in the shape of the selected word or even a short rhyme.
|Word, sentence or
(image from https://jdaniel4smom.com/tag/lego)
|Transparent jar/ plastic bottle, sand or salt or rice, paper, scissors, pen or felt-tips or a MWB.|
You need to prepare some things for this, but once you have a bottle or jar ready you can easily re-use it with different words, sentences or toys.
- Find a see-through plastic bottle or jar and fill it 2/3rds with sand, rice or salt. You can also use small pebbles or dried black-eyed peas.
- Select words your child knows and write these on small slips of paper. The words can be from a story you’ve read together to retell or random words they have studied before, sight words are always good. Or write short sentences and cut these up eg I like apples, we go to school. Put the words in the bottle, close it and shake it to bury the words.
- Get your child to shake the bottle and each time copy down 1 word they can see. After 4 words -or a set time- get them to either 1)write their own sentence with each word retelling the story or 2)combine the words to reconstruct your sentences, this develops grammar and word order. To extend this they could try to link the sentences together and create a short paragraph using simple linking words like and, but, so, or
- If your child enjoys being a jar-detective, why not get them to help you write the words or sentences next time?
- Now, you could also place a small toy in the bottle (zoo animals are great) so they can spell all words themselves on paper on their MWB!
Written by Anna Hasper, Learning and Teacher Development Specialist, Educational consultant, CELTA trainer/assessor, course designer & learner.