I knew exactly what I needed to do this week after reading a section on the importance of drawing connected to reading. In the book Talking, Drawing, Writing; Lessons for our youngest writers Martha Horn & Mary Ellen Giacobbe point out the importance that drawing has on a child’s connection with writing. I had failed some of my students in the are a of drawing and using illustrations as a method of story telling. I always began drawing with the phrase “Mrs. Brandi is not an artist so please don’t laugh at her drawings”. This was the complete opposite of the words I needed to be using. You see if we don’t have confidence in ourselves as educators how are we to instill this in our students? After all they are only 4, who cares if I can draw a dog like the one in the book. They needed to receive confirmation that they are amazing and wonderful authors but also illustrators.
I had been seeing writing taking place all over the classroom this week as I introduced even more materials in the classroom. However, there was still 1 child that stuck out to me and never approached these materials. Carter, an extremely active boy that loves monster trucks and playing in the dirt. He didn’t have time to stop playing and write….or so I thought. I began introducing an activity during our circle time routine where they could draw a picture of anything they wanted and then we would work together to write a word describing their picture on the smart board. He was called to give this a try after the 2nd day of watching his peers. He flourished!!! I had never once seen him write at all and each time he was encouraged to even draw a picture he would immediately become overwhelmed. He would sit and wiggle in his chair saying “I don’t know how to draw that” it was agonizing for him to draw or even write in any form of letter formation. His friends all clapped and cheered as he drew his pictures and wrote a word on the smart board. His face immediately glowed with a beautiful smile and his eyes lit up with pride.
As a teacher this would be enough for the week but it gets even better! Carter began to engage with the writing materials and was drawing pictures. He sat down with my TA and engaged in a small prompted writing activity and for the first time all year he drew his picture without hesitation and talked about all the features of the monster truck that drove into his mitten. He then wrote the words without fear or even asking for help. This was HUGE for him!! He was making the connections with letters and letter sounds as he would identify letters and talk to his peers about what sound they made, but had never attempted to write them without assistance.
This sparked excitement in his friends as he cheerfully showcased his work. They began to write more and more this week. I noticed that there were more times that they were writing during center time than they were actually playing. We have been having 1 student per week to finish a book, however, this week on one particular day I looked up front and there was an entire line of books waiting to be shared during circle time. This is a picture of what stamina in preschool looks like. They are interested in doing something, they are excited to share with their peers, and they are choosing to do this independently. More importantly they are beginning to increase how much writing they are doing and sharing. Tune back in next week as we shift the focus now from just pictures in our books to taking what we are practicing whole group and applying it to our books. They will be encouraged to begin drawing a picture and writing a word that connects with their picture.