From their earliest literacy experiences, I have tried to teach my boys letters and sounds within context. We look for their names, which I have strategically placed on everything in sight. We look for "their" letter-- for Logan it's an "L" for Tyson, a "T". We look for "D" for Daddy and we look for the "W" on the Walmart sign.
Last week was my husband's birthday. I decided it would be fun for Logan to write a birthday message for daddy. Logan is 3. He is just developing the motor skills to write his own name. Writing a birthday message on a sign was too much for his level of control. I was thrilled to find this wonderful substitution in Jennifer Hallisy's book, The Write Start: A Guide to Nurturing Writing at Every Stage, from Scribbling to Forming Letters and Writing Stories
I wrote large "bubble" letters on chart paper. Logan simply filled each one in with scribbles. He was so motivated because this was Daddy's birthday present. He usually doesn't sit still for long while coloring. He worked on this for 45 minutes!
As he worked, I observed. He was learning so much!
- He was building fine motor control as he scribbled.
- He was learning the verbal path for many of the letters. He would say, "Big line down? Little curve, little curve? Is that how I color the B, momma?"
- He was learning some phonetic rules. He observed the first letter in every word. He even asked me, "Why does happy not have an "e" at the end?"
- He was learning that text carries the message. He was learning that he could use these arbitrary symbols we call "letters" to communicate with others. And that is a powerful message!