Play to Write-Write to Read Fall Series: Week 1

Welcome to Week 1!

I am so excited you came to our Play to Write-Write to Read Wednesday Play Group! One of the best and most important aspects of our play group, is that YOU (the parent) are invited and actually needed to play along with your child! Each week, we will  play in two different ways: The FUNdamentals & The Writing Practice

For those of you who are joining our Play Group each week you are asked to please do 2 things:

1. Comment on how these activities worked or didn’t work with your child. Feel free to reply to one another to encourage and offer your advice as well! This will also be great to hold us all accountable to one another to actually follow through… don’t we all need a little of that!? :)

2. Share: Bloggers-you can link up a writing activity you’ve done with your child in the past to share with everyone. You are totally welcome to reteach the same strategies on your own blogs and then link up those posts the following week (please do be sure to link back). Non-Bloggers & Bloggers we encourage you to teach/share these activities with another mom friend. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if more and more parents began to learn Best Practices for writing  to ‘play’ with their kids; these types of activities are not just for teachers! Let’s empower each other by sharing!

The FUNdamentals

 (The FUNdamentals section focuses on guiding your toddler/preschooler through the basics of developing the fine motor and gross motor skills needed for the physical act of writing, but doing so with ‘fun’ activity.) 

Activity 1: Line Mazes


1. Strengthen fine motor skills

2. Improve visual perception skills (specifically left to right eye movement)

3. Teach child how to correctly hold a marker/crayon

4. Have Fun!

Click HERE to visit a complete explanation of the activity and the directions. I shared this a few months ago when I began blogging. It was the first activity I started with when I began intentionally teaching Big Brother the FUNdamentals of writing. He loves this activity and we play it frequently at restaurants and in waiting rooms!


Writing Practice

(The Writing Practice section focuses on a new ‘Best Practice’ Writing Strategy each week. A ‘Best Practice’ writing strategy is a technique or methodology that, through experience and research, has proven to reliably lead to creating strong writers.) 

Writing Practice 1: Partner Jo urnaling


1. Model basic sentence writing for your child

2. Demonstrate that spoken words can be written words

3. Improve visual perception skills (specifically left to right eye movement)

4. Visually connect verbal words with written text

5. Have fun and connect with your child.


Partner Journaling Directions:

1. Take a special trip to the store and buy a journal with your child. Even if you are on a tight budget, it is well worth the $1-2 sacrifice to create a special memory with your child, allowing them to select a journal (yes, you can strongly guide them in selecting the right one). I recommend that you find one with space to draw at the top of the pages and then lines below for writing. Allow them to decorate, draw, paint, etc. the cover to really personalize their journal.

Personal Note: My son ‘selected’ a Mead K-2 Primary Journal found at Wal-Mart. I clearly pointed out the great space their was for him to draw pictures in it and he was hooked! :) 

2. Select a writing prompt (suggestions below) and ask them to tell you about that trip, event, party, movie, etc. Ask them questions to get them talking/writing with their words. As you write their short sentences, clarify by reading the sentence back to your child as you write it. When you complete a few sentences or when they tell you they are finished, go back and reread all the sentences back to your child again. Use your finger to touch the words as you read them, this is so important because it informally teaches them so many important skills for reading readiness such as eye movement from left to right and  that their words can be written down to create a story. Writing in a journal is a great way to help children capture special memories and reflect back on their day/week.

Sample Partner Journaling Time:

Mackenzie: Hey Buddy, do you want to write about going to the movie theater the other day?

J: Yeah!

M: Ok, what should we say first?

J: I goed to the movie.

M: Great! I went to the movies. (I didn’t make a big deal out of his grammar but rather just simply corrected it and repeated it back to him correctly.)

J: Mom, I’m thirsty!

M: Ok Buddy, let’s finish our writing then we can go get a drink. (I notice he tends to ‘need’ something when things get difficult. So I encourage him to keep going, but offer a little more assistance.)

J: Ok…

M: What movie did you see?

J: Brave, I didn’t like the mean bear.

M: Ok, (I refocus him back to the first sentence he created using the title.) I saw Brave. (I read the sentence as I write.) Who did you say was scary?

J: The bear

M: OK, The bear was scary.

J: They pushed each other!

M: You’re right they did… let’s write that down! (I write down his sentence.)

J: The bears were not being nice mom!

M: That’s an excellent sentence Buddy! (I notice that he is tired and fidgety so I reread the sentences pointing to each word as I read.) Ok, do you want to draw the picture of the bears pushing each other like your sentence said?

J: Yeah! Can you help me!?

Suggesting Prompts for Toddlers/Preschoolers: Activities they completed, friends, vacations, play-dates, favorite snacks, favorite food, a movie or show they watched recently, a family member, a prayer, a lesson they learned, a fun day, etc.

Important Tip: If you don’t already encourage your toddler/preschooler to speak in sentences begin to do so. This will help their writing as well! Teach them to speak as you would want them to write! For example when you toddler says: Hungry! Gently ask them to tell you in a sentence. “Mom, I’m hungry!” Of course you will need to model this in the beginning but it will become more natural after a week or two.

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  1. Great post about journaling. Children learn soooo much during this process, and extra mama-time is fun for them too. :)

    Thanks so much for hosting this series. I am very excited to talk about early literacy! I’m up for some new ideas, as well. I hope my post was pertinent enough. If not, let me know. As school begins, I will be delving more into the specifics of writing and reading with my kiddo and my students. Thanks again.

  2. A great post. I love combining the drawing factor with the writing. This is a great way to ease children into writing their own stories – i.e., the child draws a picture and then dictates the story to a willing adult who can record their words in writing.

    I’m looking forward to following this series. Thanks for your time in organising it.

  3. This is awesome!!! You have inspired me!

  4. What a great idea, just found this we’ll be joining in week on week, although we are already a week behind, lol.

  5. Finally posted our activities!! Sorry, busy summer! I also included a graphic of appropriate hand grasps for different ages. It might be helpful to non-teacher mamas out there!

  6. Tried the Journal excersie tonight – what a good idea! Josh loved talking about our day in the safari park, we shall we keeping this activity up – a great record of our trips out. Sadly we haven’t been able to get a proper journal yet, but I ended up printing some A4 pages for him to fill in as we go and I’ll let him choose a nice ring binder for them to go in :)

    My son drawing on his journal page:

  7. We tried some of the line maze activities. The kids liked them. To up the duration of the activity, we made them into rainbow lines and traced them over and over with each color of the rainbow. Turned out kind of pretty and the kids got lots of fine motor practice. I used colored pencils for my nearly 5 year old son, and chunky crayons for my 3 year old. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Great ideas!!!
    We made a list of chores, since she is all into the big girl thing of helping mom.
    I made her say all her chores, I went on writing. The cute thing is that she added some sweet items like “kissing mom” and ” “hugging mom”. She didn’t mention dad, so I didn’t added.
    She pinned the list to her wall, and when dad saw it, he went like “oh, it says here that you should kiss daddy”. And she said ” no daddy, it doesn’t say that… I know because I wrote that list myself”.

    And now she’s so proud that she “wrote” it, and she asked me to read aloud so many times that she actually can read them now.

    Thanks for the inspiration!!!

    • Carolina- I am so excited to hear how much your little girl loves her ‘writing’! How sweet! Thanks for sharing and we are so glad you’re joining us! :)

  9. This is a great series! I just started working in a christian- based preschool and I have included a writing vented. I will be using these ideas in the classroom. I cant wait to see what else you’ve got.

  10. I actually just found your Week 4 post on a Linky Party, and ended up finding my way over to Week 1. My (almost) 3-year-old son wants so desperately to “go to school.” I try to accommodate him at home, but feel so inadequately prepared. I’m so glad I found these lessons, and I’ll be following along as you add more!


  11. Rebecca says:

    I love this series! My little girl is 16 months. When do you recommend starting these activities? When I give her a crayon, she tries to eat it :-)

  12. Alright so earlier this month my son Julian turned three so we (my boys parents and teacher instructor and I )decided since he is heading to preschool in September we need to get started working on writing. So Thank God for Pinterest because it led me here to get started and thank God for that because I was at lost of how to get started. we are going to start today and I will let you know how my week goes!!! I am excited!


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