A bright, inviting and well resourced writing area is, of course, essential; however, it is just as important to encourage children to write in any provision area. Here are a few ideas, some general, and some specific to an area, to help children to readily think of ‘jotting things down’ as a way of sharing their world with others.
In general, shoe boxes containing clipboards and paper, with pencils on a string, are great to have anywhere and everywhere alongside any kind of learning experience, inside or outside. Slip some sheets inside plastic wallets as children do enjoy the smooth sensation of writing or drawing on the plastic, with washable felt-tipped pens, and the ‘wipeability’. Instead of shoeboxes, you can use plastic twin–compartment tool trays with a handle.
Small world area
Provide open-ended ‘themed’ plain A4 sheets on clipboards alongside small world play. Add a very simple picture or design to a corner or along an edge of the paper, ‘matched’ to a current small world theme e.g. pirates, airport, firefighters, animals etc, for maps, signs, ‘notices’ and ‘reports’ etc.
Perhaps Wallace has decided to make Gromit a birthday party! Children could make playdough/clay ‘bones’ and ‘dog biscuits’, then write out invitations to Gromit’s ‘doggy friends’, and draw plans for ‘party fun activities’ for dogs, then make them from junk materials and construction sets e.g. an ‘obstacle course’ etc.
Have a stock of blank, simply bordered (e.g. with book characters) ‘I love this book!’ sheets, and a place where children can display their sheets for other children to read.
Have stationery available, too, for children who may want to write to a book character. Make sure of course, that a reply always arrives! Sometimes have a letter to a child from a character already written, ‘during the night’!.
Provide simply decorated sheets for children to draw what they have made, and perhaps write about how they did it, and attach to a display board. Some could be headed ‘How to…’
Role play area
Have a wipeable marker board on the wall. If the area is a ‘home’, children can jot down shopping and ‘to do’ lists, phone numbers of ‘repair people’, names of the bears and dolls and what to buy them for Christmas etc. If a ‘hospital’ or a ‘vets surgery’, children could write the names of patients and their illnesses and treatments. If the area is a ‘car workshop’, they could write the makes of cars and their repairs.
Floor construction area
Have plain sheets on clipboards available in boxes on the floor, for children to draw ‘plans’ of the buildings etc, and notices , street signs etc.
Keep a box of plain paper on clipboards alongside traffic road mat play, too. One child, in uniform as a ‘police office’ or ‘traffic warden’ could ‘jot down’ the ‘registration numbers’ ( small white stickers on vehicles) of vehicles that are ‘speeding’, or ‘jumping lights’, or ‘park illegally’.
Have sheets with a simple decorative border on a number theme, for children to write their names and their friends’ names and their ‘scores’ in child-devised and manufactured games.
Make available a supply of ‘Look what I found out!’ sheets, with a simple motif.
Have boxes and containers of clipboard sheets, and pencils on strings, in strategic positions outside for role play ‘messages’, and ‘important notes’, and outdoor ‘discoveries’ etc.
Providing plentiful ‘jotting stations’ in all provision areas will help children turn easily to ‘jotting things down’, and becoming ‘ready writers’!