If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve seen a lot of Letter of the Week crafts, reading lists, fine motor activities, and math connections. I’ve also shared a few resources I’ve created to help my 4 1/2-year-old learn to read.
This week I’m beginning a new venture — teaching my children to love writing. I look forward to sitting down to have regular writing time with my Four and Six — and showing you just what that looks like.
As a classroom teacher, I made Writing Workshop a regular part of my schedule – whether I taught grades 3-5 (as I did for three years), or grades 1-2 (as I did for five years). I found that the more time and instruction I gave, the greater the likelihood that my students would love to write.
I want so much to foster that same love of writing in my own children.
One thing all writers love is words. So I created a printable spelling dictionary so my children would have a special place to keep them.
My daughter, just finishing kindergarten, turned six last week. One of her presents was a large box full of fun tools for writing. I called it a Writer’s Toolbox. In the box was a spelling dictionary that I created. It serves two purposes:
1) Its word lists are a resource for children as they seek the spellings of words commonly used in writing.
2) It is a recording space for children to write the spellings of words they want to use in their writing.
The dictionary should not be used in this way:
1) To slow down a child’s writing because she is looking up every word she wants to write.
2) To set up the expectation that every word in the dictionary should be spelled correctly in the child’s writing.
3) To discourage a child from “inventing” spellings according to her ability.
Here are sample pages from My Spelling Dictionary.
Lately my Four has shown an increased interest in words. He asks about words in print and wants to write notes to his sister. I knew it was time to give him a spelling dictionary, too. However, since my son is reading very little, I did not want to give him a dictionary with word lists already included. Instead, I want him to puzzle out spellings on his own — while having a special place to house words that he uses a lot.
The spelling dictionary for preschool kids up through first grade has just the letters and a picture clue on each page. I included pictures for the long and short vowel sounds as well as pictures for the hard and soft sounds of C and G.
Here are sample pages from My First Spelling Dictionary.
To assemble the dictionaries, you will need to print the document front to back and staple with a long-armed stapler. Today, while my One and Two were napping, I sat at the kitchen table with my Four and Six. They each brought a sharpened pencil and a new spelling dictionary.
I showed my Four how he could record words he knows on the proper pages. He got right to work with “CAT.”
As it turned out, he was interested in spelling the name of each page’s picture clue. Normally I would want young children to streeeetch out the sounds and write what they hear — whether or not the final spelling is accurate. But because this is a spelling resource, today I helped him spell each word correctly. He was thoroughly engaged and could come up with many of the correct letters himself.
While I was working with my Four, my daughter was busy copying words from the word lists. This was not my intent when I created the dictionary, but who am I to get in the way of child-led spelling practice? When she wondered what to do next, I suggested she get out her new picture dictionary and find words she wanted to record in her spelling dictionary. She was enthusiastic and stayed busy for a while.
After about 2o minutes, the kids were done writing words, and we put the dictionaries away. These will be a resource as we begin our own Writing Workshop at the kitchen table. (If you’re not sure what Writing Workshop is, check the comments section below!)
Whether you are a classroom teacher, homeschooling parent, or a parent (like me) who seeks to supplement your child’s school education, I hope you will find these dictionaries useful! I’d love to hear from you.
You can get them here (remember to print front to back):
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