In my classroom I typically have my preschoolers for 1 1/2 to 2 years. When it comes to writing skills, this is a crucial time as they are learning to write their names and understand print as a form of communication, especially in that last year before kindergarten. For these reasons the writing center is a very important and popular part of the classroom. I try to keep as many writing instruments and resources available as is possible. What's the best writing center choice? One could get bogged down with all the learn-to-write programs, do-dads and gadgets out there. My suggestion? Make it fun, make it interesting, make it enticing- make it yourself!!! Here are a few of my teacher created materials for writing inspiration.
I bought a few bags of rocks from our local Dollar Tree. You can get a good set of 26 from two bags. I used left over acrylic paint and a spray polyurethane to protect the paint from being picked off. The Greenies love arranging them but have pointed out that I may not have enough to spell their names! That's okay, I will just have to make a few more sets! Easy to make in about 2 hours.
Fabric Wrapped Can
We have a family that has access to these awesome books of fabric samples. You can probably get old ones from your local fabric or upholstery stores for free. I wrapped a soup can with one fabric, secured with Tacky Glue, then used a template to cut out a letter and glue that to the can. The R can holds the rulers, P for pens and pencils, M for markers, and so on. The Greenies learn to correspond the letter with the beginning letter of the items that go in it.
This is a basic feature of most of our preschool rooms. A word wall is great for those beginning writers, an immediate resource of their favorite words. Words can be detailed to the kids interest and level of development. These are for some of my older students who can identify some words by beginning letters. As you can see to the right I had a group that was interested in family. I made a set of cards using photos from magazines- great for getting multicultural images (and an accreditation must have!) That way the Greenies had photos to reference as well as the printed word.
Each Greenie has their own personal journal. This can be used throughout the classroom, taken wherever they wish to use it. Journals also make a great nap time choice for those who do not sleep but need to have something to keep them entertained. These are simple one subject notebooks and go home after they are filled. I also get plenty of great writing samples for their portfolios from these journals.
Family Created Word Cards
These cards have a small story behind them. I had a family who came to our area from Israel because the father had a temporary job at our local university. Their child would be here for his preschool years and then return to Israel to begin grade school. He was showing an interest in writing so we wanted to support that as well as prepare him for school in Israel. I asked the family to help make some word cards in English and Hebrew. This is what they made! We also have rebus words around our classroom representing the languages of our room. I usually ask the families to help us make them, a great way to get families involved and ensure their nationality is represented.
Laminated Alphabet Sheets
I found these in another classroom and have since come to live in mine. I am sure these were created using the table feature in Word. You would be surprised what the children can do with these! I often set them out with dry erase markers or bingo chips. The children will find the letters in their names, circle as many of their favorite letters as they can find, etc.
There is no escaping the draw of those huge 'learning posters.' They have their place in the classroom, however I would rather cover my classroom walls with the childrens art instead of posters. In this example I took a color poster and cut it up, laminated the different colors and put them on a binder ring. The children enjoy using these to reference how to write their colors and can also be used for sorting.
Don't be afraid to make your own classroom resources- and let the kids help!