In our pre-K Literacy Lab program at Teton Literacy Center, we strive to use real life experiences as foundations for writing. Even though we are still practicing the foundations of writing like holding a marker with correct grip, forming people with a body, head, facial features and limbs, etc., all these things come together more easily when we are writing about something that has meaning to us. Our current food and cooking unit has provided a great springboard for these kinds of experiences.
Recently, we took a field trip to the Jackson Hole Children’s Museum and made pizza in the oven. Students used a recipe guided by pictures and worked together to knead the dough, spread the sauce, and add toppings until we had a tasty feast to eat. Then, we took time to reflect on and write about making the pizza. Students were so excited to write because it directly connected to their experience, background knowledge, and deep passion for eating pizza. As a result, their drawings were detailed, descriptive, and unique. I listened as students counted out ten pepperonis on their drawing, and others made sure to choose the exact color orange to color the cooked dough. Some students even included letters for the word ‘pizza!’
During our Parent and Child Together Time (PACT) this month, parents and students wrote together about a food they enjoy making together at home. It was amazing to see students writing “recipes” with their family for taquitos, soup, and hot dogs. In doing so, we incorporated family background and knowledge in a way that makes writing truly meaningful.
These strategies do not end in pre-K. Here are a few ideas for making writing meaningful for your older student:
- Write a description of something fun you did this weekend. Give it to a friend so you can do it again together!
- Does your student want a toy or a special gift? Have them write you a letter telling you the reasons why.
- Write a letter to your future self. What do you hope your job will be? What do you want to have accomplished?
- Write a step-by-step recipe for YOUR favorite food!