Jennifer Hallissy, author of The Write Start

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JenniferHallissy   TheWriteStart_01

You probably know Jennifer Hallissy as the mother of two who blogs at The Write Start. She is now also the author of a great new book, The Write Start: A Guide to Nurturing Writing at Every Stage, from Scribbling to Forming Letters and Writing Stories! Join me in learning more about Jennifer and her ideas for sharing a love of writing with our children.

***Note: Readers will have a chance to win one of two copies of Jennifer’s new book at the end of this interview.***

JEAN:  Jennifer, I loved reading your book! You have so many ideas for encouraging our children to enjoy (and be proficient at) writing. What a wonderful resource! Okay, first question – Why do you feel it so important to raise our children to be writers?

JENNIFER: Thank you so much, Jean. And you know I'm such a fan of your blog!

I think writing is essential in the lives of young children for so many reasons. Writing goes hand and hand with learning. The best way for children to process and own information that they’ve learned is to write it down. Writing is a wonderful tool for self-expression, too. It is an amazing way to document thoughts, feelings, and ideas to share with others, or to get to know yourself better. Writing is also a great way to make connections between people – to say “thank you,” “I’m sorry,” “I love you,” and “I miss you” in a meaningful way. Writing is also what I call a “cool tool for school.” When writing comes naturally for children, they tend to enjoy it more, and likewise find their schoolwork and homework to be more of a pleasure than a burden. 

Writing also helps children, and all of us, think. We use writing to help us remember, organize, plan, or figure something out. When children get into the habit of thinking on paper, they will always have a smart strategy for thinking something through — right at their fingertips.

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JEAN:  If you could tell parents to do one thing to encourage their children as writers, what would it be?

JENNIFER:  I think parents can make a huge impact in the lives of their little writers simply by being good writing role models. We can do this just by calling attention to some of our own daily writing habits. Make a point to say, “Wow that’s cool – I have to write that down!” Your jotting a note makes an impression on children. It’s a great example of what I call the writing reflex: Think it. Write it. Remember it.

So tell your kids when you’re making a list (“If you want anything from the grocery store, let me know… I’m making the shopping list!); recording something on the schedule (“Soccer practice is at 4:30? Let me write that on the calendar!”); or writing a note to someone (“What a thoughtful gift! I have to write her a note to say ‘Thanks!’”) Letting your kids know when and how you write is a little gesture that can really encourage them to write themselves, for all sorts of practical and productive reasons.

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JEAN:  Can you tell us a bit about your background as an occupational therapist and how you came to value and promote children’s writing?

JENNIFER:  As an occupational therapist, it’s my job to help kids master the skills they need to be successful at all of their daily tasks. Children are referred to occupational therapy for a variety of different reasons; however, one thing that I found that almost all the children that I worked with had in common: they were reluctant writers.  Unfortunately, they struggled in school because they resisted anything having to do with writing. The good news is that when I helped my reluctant writers backtrack and work on some foundational skills, the skills that support writing (like how to hold a pencil, how to maintain a strong posture, how to use one hand as a stabilizer while the other hand works) their writing skills and their interest in writing took off! This made me very excited to spread the word about supporting children’s writing early on, before the struggle could set in, giving parents some simple know-how so they could set their kids up for writing success right from the start.

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JEAN:  The Write Start contains 52 “playful” writing activities – will you share one or two of your favorites?

JENNIFER:  One of my all-time favorite activities for all ages and stages is playing “Letter Store.” We set up a storefront, using a puppet theater or cardboard boxes, and stock the store with alphabet blocks, wood letter pieces, alphabet puzzle pieces, or alphabet magnets. We also accessorize our store with a couple of empty shopping bags, a toy cash register, play money, and maybe a little bell to summon the shopkeeper. I play the customer first, and, depending on the child’s stage of development, I might ask to buy a certain letter of the alphabet, or, for older kids, the letters to make a word, or even a simple sentence. We play out the whole transaction, exchanging money, packaging it up, checking the purchase, returning any unneeded items… it’s learning disguised as fun, and I’ve never met a kid who didn’t love this game!

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Another activity I absolutely love is starting kids early with a little journaling ritual. I introduced my kids to a small scribble journal as pre-writers. Now my son draws a picture in a big sketchbook every day, labeling it with a word or two. With journaling, it’s great to start super-simple, wherever your child is at, and make it a regular ritual. This way, kids get used to tucking their ideas in between the covers of a book, a habit that can be a constant companion to them throughout their whole lives.

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JEAN:  What are your preferred writing tools for little kids?

JENNIFER:  Some of my favorite writing tools, in no particular order:

Easels: Easels are great for kids to use for writing and artwork. Working at a vertical surface strengthens the shoulder muscles that promote stability when children write, and promote the wrist position that supports a mature writing grasp. We have a very inexpensive IKEA easel at home that has survived use by dozens of kids at my old office as well as my two prolific painters at home, and we drag it out to the backyard every chance we get.

Play Dough: Manipulating play dough is a fun way to strengthen the muscles involved in writing. We make our own, and you can find play dough recipes everywhere (I loved your holiday one, Jean!). You can even turn play dough into a writing activity by shaping letters out of play dough “snakes” or using alphabet cookie cutters.

Scissors: Cutting with scissors helps develop the small muscles that are so important for establishing an efficient writing grasp. My favorite scissors for beginning snippers is the Total Control scissors by Fiskars, which helps little kids master the most effective scissor grasp.

Chalk and Chalkboards: I’m crazy about chalkboards, and we have them all over, in all sizes. And when I can’t find exactly the chalkboard I want, I make it using chalkboard paint (like your great chalkboard wall, Jean.). The craft store is a great place to find inexpensive little chalkboards. We use them every day, for leaving notes, making signs, labeling things… you name it!

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Sand: There is no better way to practice letter formation than writing letters in sand! Sand stimulates all the tactile receptors in the fingers, sending tons of information to the brain, saying, “This is how you make an ‘A!’”

Broken Crayons: Don’t toss all of those broken crayons you have lying around! For kids who are working on mastering a mature grasp of a pencil, tiny tools, such as broken crayons, help them get comfortable with using a tripod grasp.

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JEAN:  You go into detail about the importance of scribbling and drawing to future writing ability in your book – can you talk a bit about the role scribbling plays and why we shouldn’t undervalue it?

JENNIFER:  I’m such a champion of scribbling! Scribbling is to writing as babbling is to talking, and crawling is to walking. Scribbles are basically children’s first steps on the road to writing. While scribbling, children are building all of their important writing muscles. And they are exercising their self-expression at the same time! There’s a lot going on when kids scribble, developmentally speaking, so it is important not to rush them through this stage and to resist that urge to encourage representational drawing and symbol-writing before they are ready.

I’m also a big fan of drawing for similar reasons. Those small little writing muscles get a big workout while children are drawing. And the creative muscles get a workout too! Drawings are children’s first stories. Early drawings tell a tale that children will soon elaborate on with words. Children who love to draw will start by signing their pictures with their name, labeling their drawings with words, and, later on, by adding a narrative to their pictures, just like they see in picture books. As their skills develop, they will continue to use drawings to illustrate their stories and to help them visualize what they intend to write about. Even older children can use drawing to stir up their creative juices before writing – drawing is a great way of brainstorming an idea or mapping out a story. It can help you “see” what you want to write in your “mind’s eye.”

And to think, it all starts with those little scribbles… I love those messy masterpieces!

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JEAN:  Thank you, Jennifer! What a wonderful reference you’ve written for parents and teachers! I can’t wait to try some of your activities with my own kids. And to use your ideas to update Maia’s writing desk as well!

Giveaway:

TheWriteStart_01Readers who leave a comment to this interview by Friday, January 14th at 12 midnight EST will be entered into a random drawing for one of two copies of Jennifer’s book, The Write Start: A Guide to Nurturing Writing at Every Stage, from Scribbling to Forming Letters and Writing Stories. That's right – there will be TWO winners!

The random number generator chose numbers 89 and 222:

#89 Erin

What a great interview with wonderful ideas! I'll be checking out her blog as well. Thank you for the chance to win! – ej

#222 LJ

Where can I get good, tablet-sized chalkboards? All the ones I'm finding online (amazon, Discount School Supply) have terrible reviews. Apparently the surface is not really slate or good for chalk– more of a plastic-y material that chalk doesn't adhere to. Any specific store suggestions? Thanks so much! The book looks amazing!

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  1. sara says

    Wow, I would LOVE to have a copy of this book! I teach preschool and this would be a great addition to our library. Thanks for the great ideas!

  2. Erin L. says

    I love ideas for encouraging writing. I really want to get my 4yo into keeping a journal. We would love this book!

  3. says

    As a teacher, I felt like I had the skills to teach my children writing. Now that I have three boys under 5 I realize that I haven’t a clue with little kids! :) This book would be such a helpful resource for our family. Thank you for introducing me to this book!

  4. Jennifer Runyan says

    I have been looking for some ideas to help my son who is 5. He is having trouble with his pencil grasp and really gets frustrated when I try and work with him. I think this book will be a valuable tool. Thank you for the information! Jennifer

  5. says

    This book sounds fabulous! I have a 7 year old who dislikes writing and a 2 year old who can’t wait to start! I’ve already marked it in my ‘wish list’!

  6. Keri says

    Great ideas! My daughter started journaling this year in kindergarten, but I think I’ll start it with my preschooler as well.

  7. Jesse says

    I’ve enjoyed so many ideas from Jennifer’s blog over the past two years, incorporating them at home with my child, and also in my childcare classroom! Thank you for all the inspiration! the book looks amazing!

  8. Bonnie says

    As a grandmother of seven, I am constantly looking for ways to educate myself, so that my activities with my grandchildren are fun and meaningful. The interview was inspiring. I would love to own this book and share it with my daughter who is a first grade teacher.

  9. says

    I can’t wait to get my hands on this book, it sounds wonderful!
    both my husband and I are avid writers (although i have to admit that my husband’s handwriting is atrocious!), I hope that my son grows up to be one too!

  10. says

    I love the quote “Scribbling is to writing as babbling is to talking, and crawling is to walking.” I will have to remember that analogy.

  11. Wendy says

    Many tools and ways to learn writing for kids. Glad I found her blog. Thanks for wonderful giveaway!

  12. Erin says

    What a wonderful book! I’ve got a 4 year old who loves to read, but is much more reluctant to write. I’d love to figure out more ways to make it fun for her!

  13. says

    I have never enjoyed writing, it is laborious to me. So I want my children to learn to enjoy it. Just from what I have read and the pictures, I would have loved to learn this way. It looks like a great book.

  14. Nicole says

    Wow. Great interview. Lot’s of fun ideas to try with my four year old. Just added the book to my Amazon wishlist! Thanks!

  15. Lili Hill says

    What wonderful ideas! I have a 13 month old who we’ve just introduced to crayons. I had not given a thought yet to encouraging writing as I was so focused on encouraging speech! Great suggestions in the early years to come!

  16. says

    I NEED this book… win it or not, I am going to have this book. I am absolutely pasionate about writing with my children. Check out my latest blog post about writing with my children (Montessori inspired).
    Thanks!
    Jennifer

  17. says

    I used a similar approach for teaching my own kids (and classroom teaching too) called “language experience”. Kids learned to read from their own writing, from their own idea and their own words. I’m so pleased to read about Jennifer’s ideas and techniques and philosophy. I’m totally in favor of her approach! Her book sounds wonderful.

  18. says

    I love everything about this. Sometimes as parents we can get so distracted with the “big” things that we forget how important the “little” things are. The simple advice to not throw out the broken crayons! Love. Love.
    Thank you!

  19. says

    I’ve followed her blog on and off for a while–such great ideas. MY six-year-old got a locking diary for Christmas and *she* suggested we have Mommy-Daughter journal-writing time.
    Great interview! Can’t wait to read her book.

  20. allison says

    I have been incorporating creative fun with writing more & more into the lives of my two girls in kindergarten…this book would be a great tool as I continue.

  21. says

    looks like another wonderful resource to have! i love her writing stations in the photographs…beautiful! i’ll definitely have to check out her blog. thanks for the chance.

  22. Adriana Ochoa says

    Love the idea of multiple chalkboards….will have to do that one…..and sign up for her blog…..

  23. says

    it’s so funny how different my kids are when it comes to reading/writing. My son (now 10) STILL hates writing, his handwriting hasn’t improved much since about grade 2. Reading however, is a passion. This boy can WHIP through books and has a great level of comprehension.
    My daughter (age 5) is in LOVE with letters, loves loves LOVES to write- is always asking how to spell things, makes “fancy letters” by adding curliques and other flourishes but takes no interest in reading at all. She loves to be read to though, which is just fine by me.

  24. says

    I have been reading her blog for a few years now and am thrilled that she is writing a book. My 4 year old daughter is an amazing reader, but a bit of a reluctant writer and drawer which frustrates her former art teacher mama. Just seeing the ideas in a book would interest my girl

  25. Julie says

    I checked this out from the library and just reading it is not enough, it is one of those books you just have to have on hand for reference. I also love the alphabet store idea for when you have children of different ages. Perfect for 2 year old just learning alphabet and 5 year old practising spelling.

  26. says

    Exposing children to reading and writing from the start is vital! Great interview… Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this book.

  27. Carly says

    I love the journalling idea. My four year old is starting to draw very creative pictures and I’d love to get her labelling them with one or two words. My two year old draws the occassional picture too (that actually looks like what he says it is – a spider, which can also be a sun, and a happy face). I’m totally going to start this. Thanks for the wonderful resource!

  28. says

    These are great ideas. We use sugar instead of sand, because I tend to always have that in the house, but my little loves tracing his letters. I love the letter store idea. I wonder if it would work with things that start with a certain letter, for a little older child.

  29. Chandra says

    Interesting interview! I am not worried about it yet, but my son does not yet understand letters nor have any interest in learning them. So, this would maybe give me some fun ideas to help him learn at his own pace and keep it fun.

  30. [email protected] says

    All those ideas are so great. I can’t wait to try them and would love to read the book and learn more!

  31. says

    I cannot wait to read this book, I really want some ideas for my daughter is taking such an interest in writing lately.

  32. says

    What a cool book, and great interview. I always find interviews in this series helpful. Totally pulling out the colored pencils for my little guy today! Thanks.

  33. [email protected] says

    Your interview and book confirms my belief on early writing. Your interview and this book motivates me to encourage more writing fun at home! I really hope to win this book!

  34. Anne says

    The interview was great! My 5 year old is just starting to write little journal entries, and my 4 year old produces many many wonderful drawings though doesn’t show much interest in letters yet (. . . except her own name!) I’d love to have the book and use the ideas with them!

  35. Mar says

    At home we have been using some of the great ideas commented in the interview. Instead of the sand(we have wood floor)we use bird seeds or tea leaves(delicious aroma) to draw or write. It’s fun to change the color, the smell and touch of our writing material. Thank you for your inspiring blog.

  36. says

    Thanks for introducing me to Jennifer! I’ll be following her blog and hopefully reading her book! LOL. Also, I’ll have to share it with my sister who is a new Early Childhood Educator.

  37. Carissa says

    I loved her analogy to scribbling. My husband is a music teacher and I am an artist and we are always talking about how random marks/scribbling and random banging on pots and pans are precursors to the formal side of both our fields!

  38. Cristina says

    This book is exactly what I am looking for. Thank you for highlighting on your blog today :)

  39. Jenny says

    As a mom of 3 little ones and an elementary teacher this would be such a wonderful resource. thanks.

  40. says

    This looks like such a great book! I’d love to get my hand on one. Plus, now I have a new blog to read! Thanks Jean for sharing!

  41. Andie says

    I have found so much inspiration reading “The Write Start” I first found the blog linked to this one! Jennifer’s ideas remind me so much of the wonderful OT’s I worked with as a special ed teacher! I can’t wait to read this book!

  42. Jennie says

    Thank you for sharing this with us. I find this information so important. I tell my parents all of the time it is o.k. to let the child scribble this is the first step in writing. I look forward to reading this book.

  43. Barbara Zaborowski says

    I had to laugh out loud when I read about the letter store. What a wonderful idea! Even after teaching for so many years, the world is still full of new ideas. I love it!

  44. Marianne says

    My 1 year old son was just scribbling this morning, and I was over his shoulder “encouraging” him to make circles instead. Ugh, there I go again! Looks like this book is just what I need. Thank you for writing it Jennifer. Jean, thanks for the giveaway.

  45. Erin says

    What a great interview with wonderful ideas! I’ll be checking out her blog as well. Thank you for the chance to win!
    ej

  46. STovar says

    How exciting!…I have been looking for ways to encourage my little ones to begin expressing themselves through writing!…LUV the tidbits I saw and will definitely look into getting this book :)

  47. [email protected] says

    Wow, these books look great! Thanks for the wonderful interview.
    Mary

  48. Charo says

    Yes, I do believe that is a great book. Reading and writing are skills that every child can get them if they are meaningful. The write start drives us in this way.

  49. says

    As a mom of pre-schoolers who is planning to homeschool, this would be a great book to help me incorporate more writing into their days.

  50. Adriana says

    I love how this info is so accessible now!
    What great practical tactics for our little ones :)

  51. Jill says

    I have really enjoyed your interview with Jennifer Hallissy! I volunteer in my child’s Kindergarten classroom and work with the kids on handwriting. There is such a wide spectrum of abilities in her large class and *The Write Start* would be a wonderful addition to our collective toolbox!

  52. Véronique says

    As speech therapist and mum of 3 young kids, i’ve read this interview with interest, the blog discovered is now in my favorites and, of course the book must be inspiring
    and thanks for your sharing !

  53. Melanie says

    What a fantastic book! As a reading teacher, I would love to know more about early readiness skills for my own daughter.

  54. Yulia says

    The suggestion to model writing yourself is a great encouragement for me as a mom to continue showing my kids good habits that will accompany them through their life.

  55. says

    Oh my God! I need this book. My son is Autistic and as a result has all sorts of developmental delays – including fine motor skills such as pencil holding, and using scissors. He’s quite bright, but is SO frustrated at his lack of ability drawing/writing wise, and I’ve been at a total loss as to how to help him. Please please please enter me, and thanks for the interview.

  56. says

    I was so excited to see this competition is still open – I just followed a link to your blog, and so many amazing ideas came up in the interview alone. *crosses fingers*

  57. Beth Lehman says

    this is so fascinating to me as a reading teacher!! my own children are beyond the early stages, but i know so many families who would benefit from knowing how to encourage writing early on!

  58. ailikate says

    I am really looking forward to this book, I think I have a learn to read by writing kid and I’d love more ideas to play with. And I really want to find those scissors near me!

  59. says

    I just added this book to my Amazon wishlist to be bought ASAP. My 4 y.o. is a reluctant writer and we’ve worked with OT some time ago. Unfortunately, we had to stop his PT and OT sessions last year and ever since then I’ve been trying to come up with fun writing activities for him. Also, thank you for explaining that many of the writing difficulties arise from lack of basic skills, such as proper grip and posture. It gives me some much-needed direction.

  60. Kate says

    Would be very interested in reading this book — I’m sure it would have ideas to encourage my already-writing children (7- and 6-year-olds) as well as my younger one who is just starting to write at almost 4. Thanks for the interview and the ideas!!!

  61. Liz Schwab says

    What great inspiration! As a professional writer, I am thrilled to see this! I’d also like to remind everyone of what fun it is to make letters or words in shaving cream. Messy fun is always the best kind!

  62. Katherine says

    What a great interview, my children have not begun writing letters yet and I haven’t thought much about their writing yet either. This interview has given me some wonderful ideas and I’d love to read the book.

  63. Dwayna says

    I adore those alpha-rocks! What age would you suggest a child on the scribble journal? My daughter still young enough to put everything in her mouth! Wondering what age I could *hope* to hand her crayons?

  64. says

    I love Jennifer’s blog so I’m happy to see she has a book out! My girls are now at a perfect age to really start using these techniques. As a writer myself, there has been no greater joy than to see my girls learning to write and read this past year! Now they are turning five in about 12 hours and, well, this year will be a big writing year!!

  65. Susan says

    I hadn’t heard of this author before – thanks so much for sharing. This looks like an excellent resource!!

  66. Lisa says

    Sounds like a great book. My son has never been particularly interested in drawing and I’m always looking for new ideas to get him to practice those fine motor skills.

  67. says

    I just added this book to my wish list today! But of course it would be fine if I won it too. ;o) I’m excited to check out her blog!

  68. Charlotte says

    I’m really proud of my 3 1/2 year old son who can type his name on the computer … but this is making me think that I really have to keep pushing the writing too. As important as computers are these days, you can’t go past a handwritten note or thank you card.

  69. Julia says

    I remember some of my first writing being a journal entry about our cat having kittens. Your interview reminded me how writing should bring children joy and satisfaction! I imagine your book will inspire parents to help their children accomplish this!

  70. Andrea says

    This book looks like a great resource. Thank you for offering up this chance to win. Am definitely going to check out her blog too.

  71. Iris says

    Thanks for the inspiring interview! My almost 5-year-old daughter is drawing all the time, and she loves writing words if I tell her the letters. I’m sure we would have a lot of fun trying out the activities in this book! Thanks for sharing, and for the opportunity of the give-away.

  72. Leslie says

    Thanks for interviewing Jennifer. I love reading her website/blog. And would LOVE LOVE LOVE to have her book!

  73. Tracie says

    This sounds like such an interesting book…thanks for the great interview and introducing me to it. I’d love to read this book!

  74. says

    I am a middle school writing teacher,but am often looking for age appropriate ways to encourage my 3 and 5 year olds to write. This book looks fabulous!

  75. Emily O. says

    Thanks for the great interview! Loved the ideas about the chalkboards – another thing to add to my shopping list at the craft store!

  76. Etta says

    I would LOVE to win this book. My 3 year old is more interested in writing and drawing right now than anything else – I want to encourage this passion as much as I can – this book would be a great help!

  77. Natalie says

    This book looks really interesting! I have just subscribed to The Write Start blog, as well. I plan on homeschool my 17 month old daughter and my twins who will be arriving soon, and this book and blog seems like it will have a lot of great ideas to help me!

  78. says

    This sounds really great – now, I wish someone would write a book about making numbers and counting appealing , fun and exciting! My nearly five-year old daughter has some kinda block to it all..she gets to four and then just sprouts random numbers.

  79. says

    The book sounds wonderful, and I’d love to get some more ideas for scribbling and pre-writing with my almost-2-year-old!

  80. Heather N says

    The book sounds great. Writing is such an essential skill! I look forward to reading her book. Thanks for the giveaway.

  81. says

    I wish I could say I’m a long-time fan of Jennifer, but I only heard about her today! However, after reading this interview, I can predict that I will be a fan for a long time to come-as long as she writes, I’ll read it!

  82. Julie says

    Just scanning the text of the interview gave me some awesome ideas to incorporate into my preschoolers’ activities. I definitely want to read the book for ideas to develop a “writing life” for my children and foster their creativity and self-expression.

  83. Linda DeBono says

    I love the idea of an alphabet store and I am going to set one up! I agree that encouraging writing is so important for parents to do as well as modeling it for our children. I would love to win a copy of this book!
    It looks like it has great ideas to implement right away with some great explanations to back it up.

  84. says

    Hi!
    I’m not sure of my english translation… sorry I’m french and I don’t know if I can participate but I would like say that I’m really interesting about this ‘concept’! and artfulparent is for me a really good source of inspiration in my own life .
    My daughter (who will be 3 years old) is already interested in the writing, the letters… Is there a French translation of this book? Thank you for all this creativity! ;-)

  85. Heather says

    My three year old has recently showed interested in learning to write. She has always been into drawing and expressing herself with writing utensils, but I have struggled to fine activities to help encourage writing actually letters! I love the Write Start blog and would love to have a chance to win this book! Thanks for another great interview!

  86. [email protected] says

    What an amazing book – I will definitely be adding it to my list to read/purchase! The interview was so interesting!

  87. says

    As a homeschooling mama of 5 I can say that all the scribbling and drawing ARE writing! It is amazing to me how fast my littlest ones develop those skills when they have open access to pencils, crayons, paper, and magna-doodles. It is fun for me to see at a glance through the rooms of my house all the stages of writing– my 1 year old “drawing” snowmen over and over, my 3 year old stringing lines of letters together and telling me what they say (or asking how to sound them out), and my 10 year old on the couch with the lap top working on her fantasy novel. Writing can be such a natural thing when it is just part of everyday life.

  88. Laura says

    This is right up my alley. It looks like the type of resource I’d use over and over for the kids in my life!

  89. Lauren says

    I love giving my toddler pen and paper. She feels so grown up and already knows how to hold the pencil correctly and make fine movements. I love all these ideas!

  90. says

    I love these creative ideas! As the mother of a young (8 months – really young) son, I will definitely have to check this book out!

  91. Jo Ann says

    I would love to get this book!! I run a Montessori School and I am always looking for new ideas to encourage the children to write. I am really excited to have found your blog. Thanks so much :)

  92. Katy says

    Thanks for the great interview! I have one little boy on the cusp of learning to read and write and am interested in these unique ideas!

  93. Marilyn S says

    Wow…this would be a great resource in my ECE classroom… my high school students are earning their CDAs by teaching our class of preschoolers. This is one area that they have a hard time teaching and understanding. Thanks!

  94. Leah says

    Sounds like a great book. As a Montessorian, I’d love to know what her views are on cursive vs. print as first writing choice.

  95. [email protected] says

    Great interview! Would LOVE a copy of this book!

  96. Pamela says

    Lovely, as always! Am finally starting a toddler art group with a few folks I know; and I’m so grateful for your stream of creative ideas and promptings. peace

  97. Susan ULrich says

    Love the part about journaling for young kids…even with scribbles. Can’t wait to try that!

  98. Lynn says

    I have a 2nd grader that needs to slow down, so any idea to give her a love of writing is appreciated!

  99. says

    Oooh! Pick me! *fingers crossed* I really love this interview, and I’m so excited about reading this book. It just seems to tie together so much of where my thoughts are anyway.

  100. diane sloss says

    I will never look at my little one’s scribble marks the same way again – thank you so much for the valuable information.

  101. sharon says

    I learned so much from this interview! Thank you both so much. Our children deserve the best start in life from us, and I so appreciate smart ideas like these to help me do right by my child.
    And now I’m entered in a desirable giveaway? Bonus!

  102. Holly says

    Oh what a wonderful book! My (newly) 4yr old does have a little scribble journal that we have used. She scribbles and also cuts and pastes pictures in her book. I am going to try having her scrbble/write in her journal more often. Great interview!!!

  103. says

    Thank you for all those activities and tips! I’m really inspired, and would love to read the book to learn more!

  104. says

    This is my first time posting here but I’ve been a reader all year 2010. I am a homeschool mom of 5 children. I also work at our local elementary school. My son has been struggling for years at writing. In testing he was on the edge of having dysgraphia and they didn’t diagnose him as such. Yet he still at 10 struggles terribly with writing. I was have been searching around for ideas to help him and today I read your blog. Thank you for the interview and the website. Hopefully we can find something that helps. :)
    Nikki

  105. says

    I am in love with those monogrammed rocks! We have tons of moveable alphabets in our homeschool, but nothing so nature-oriented as those…I hope there’s a tutorial in your book, because I really want to make them now!

  106. lj says

    Where can I get good, tablet-sized chalkboards? All the ones I’m finding online (amazon, Discount School Supply) have terrible reviews. Apparently the surface is not really slate or good for chalk– more of a plastic-y material that chalk doesn’t adhere to. Any specific store suggestions? Thanks so much! The book looks amazing!

  107. Allison says

    I LOVE Jennifer’s Blog. We have made the letter rocks and have sand for writing in. My 3 year old carries around a little note pad and writes notes all the time. Over the last couple of days we have been learning about snail mail and sending letters to our friends. Thank you for all of the inspiration.

  108. Kath says

    As a pre-school teacher I’m always looking for ideas to build foundation skills for writing. I’d love to read all these ideas!
    Kath

  109. Melanie says

    My son is in 1st grade and really trying, but feeling frustrated by the writing curriculum. I can’t wait to try some of these ideas to make it more fun for him!

  110. Jessica says

    ooh, I would love to win this book! Thanks for a great giveaway! I want to go make a writing center right now! :)

  111. joy says

    I love the ideas suggested in the interview. I look forward to checking her book and blog out. Thanks for doing the interview!

  112. Susanne says

    Great post…validates what I do in my preschool classroom and gives me ideas of how I can further enhance the writing of my young students!

  113. barbara says

    Great book and wonderful interview.
    I’m Italian and adapting to the American way to teach to children. There so much to learn and love how to push and inspire your kids. They are really there always looking at you as a model. Would love to be a ggod one for them. I have a 5 years old who loves letters and learn how to read few months ago. And a 2 and 1/2 who is following the big brother.
    Much affection and I’m so happy to have met you in this blog. :)

  114. says

    What a wonderful interview! So excited about her book. What a great resource it will be as I embark on homeschooling my girls!

  115. Jen says

    I use to teach kindergarten and first grade and I loved writing with my little ones. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this book! I’m headed over to check out her blog too! Thanks for sharing!

  116. Julie says

    I would love a copy of this book. We are always looking for ways to encourage writing in our house.

  117. says

    I really hope that my children grow up to love writing. It has brought me much pleasure throughout my life, and I hope it could do the same for them. I would love to own this book!

  118. says

    The Write Start is one of my favorite blogs and I’ve been so looking forward to this book! I requested it at the library, but it may be a while until it enters circularion. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for this giveaway! (Or for my husband buying it for my birthday next month! I told him about it!) :)

  119. says

    Oh my, this would be so awesome to have for my 3 and 8 year olds! My oldest is on the autism spectrum and writing has always been a challenge for his fingers.
    My youngest is a prolific artist-in-residence and I would love to have more tips and ideas for encouraging both of their varied abilities!

  120. Meg says

    My friend just recommended your blog to me, and so far, I love what I’ve seen. I’m a grade one teacher on maternity leave so your blog serves two purposes for me. I would love to read this book, too!

  121. Juanita says

    I love these ideas! As a mama with three little ones, this book would be an invaluable resource!

  122. Catherine says

    This looks perfect for me. Thanks so much for sharing. I’m off to check out her blog now.

  123. mbc says

    wow! i loved this interview! i feel energized. it’s all stuff I can easily do to help my little one. thank you!

  124. Stephanie says

    wow, this sounds like a wonderful book. thank you for interviewing her, and i am going to go check out her blog!

  125. Monica says

    This sounds like a fabulous book: my oldest just turned 2 and I want to arm myself with useless and delightful activities and growing tools for her – this would be perfect!

  126. Alice says

    Wow, I love your passion and enthusiasm! Your book would be a wonderful addition to our group homeschool library to inspire our collective of wonderful creative, free-thinking children and parents!

  127. Brigette says

    Wow, I’m so happy to find this blog and find out about this book. As a occupational therapist I heartily agree with everything Jennifer said, and I love the idea of the letter store!

  128. Sara says

    Great ideas! As a teacher, I always loved seeing kids develop a love of writing but it’s not something I’m doing a great job of as a parent. I’ll start by digging the chalkboard paint out of the closet…

  129. Monique says

    Wow – I am so intrigued and need to get my hands on a copy! I was a Middle Years ELA teacher and now stay home with my kids and feel at a loss some days on how to encourage writing at their young ages. Thanks for the ideas in the interview!

  130. says

    This book would be perfect! We had an art holiday with paint, crayon, and easel gifts – very fun. Thanks for the opportunity!

  131. Cara says

    This book looks amazing and would be very helpful in my kindergarten classroom.
    Thank you for the great giveaway!

  132. Deborah A says

    Wow, thanks for introducing me to Jennifer … this book looks amazing and once finished posting this I am heading over to check out her blog.

  133. Lyudmyla says

    I’m a mom of 4 years old and a 1 y/old baby.. They both are facinated with letters and scribbling. I didn’t know though how to nurture this interest.. I’m happy that I found this article, so I will be more prepared now. Thank you!

  134. Heather Green says

    Wow, I am so excited to find this blog-and what a great interview. My fourth child is 5 and a reluctant writer. This book looks like it will be a great resource. Thank you!

  135. Erin Louis says

    What great ideas! My son is in first grade and these activities would really push him forward with his writing….and let him learn while having fun…brilliant : )

  136. says

    I would absolutely love to win this book; it seems to be packed full of wonderful info for us to pass on to our girls,(who happen to love their ‘journaling’ and all arts and crafts)!

  137. Jane says

    As a mama now, and kindergarten teacher in my “before” life, I am a huge fan of the Write Start. Thanks for sharing this great resource for parents!

  138. says

    Great interview! So inspiring. We are skipping pre-school for our kids and trying to do as much as we can on our own. This book looks like a fantastic resource!

  139. Kelley says

    I would love a copy of this book! I love what she says about scribbling. I work with children and always need to explain to parents that scribbling is not bad!

  140. Andrea Jett says

    What an amazing book! I cannot wait to find out more projects and you can bet I am getting a sandbox ASAP!

  141. [email protected] says

    I love your ideas. I am going to start a scribble journal for my 1 year today!

  142. Marykay says

    Thanks for sharing this! With a 1 and 3 year old I get lots of opportunities to appreciate the scribble phase! I plan to get my hands on this book (even if I don’t win) :) thanks again

  143. says

    This looks like an amazing book. Just reading the interview and looking at the pages up above have inspired new ideas for my preschool classroom. I hope i win a free copy!!!!! thank you for posting this.

  144. Sara R. says

    Wonderful ideas! I has hoped to become an occupational therapist…someday I will. Thanks for sharing these!

  145. Emma says

    Oooh – what a great resource! As a mom of 2 (ages 5 & 2 1/2) this is right up our alley. I also use my personal professional library to guide what I do in my 2′s classroom. I have a friend whose child is a resistant “writer” & I can’t wait to point her in your direction (for both this interview & the book!) I can’t wait to expand my library with this book (hoping we’ll get a book through this drawing, but if not I already know what my next book purchase will be!!) Thanks for offering this up :)

  146. says

    I would LOVE to read this book! I’m a former English teacher, but my focus was on secondary. I often find I am at a loss for promoting writing with my own children (6 and 3). I suppose they see me writing articles (I’m a freelance writer) but I haven’t thought about good ways to promote the daily joys of writing.
    Fantastic interview. Thank you!

  147. Sally stanley says

    This was a wonderful article!!!!! As a Special Education teacher your book would be a wonderful resource!!!!!

  148. Marina B. says

    I WANT this book!!!! I have a reluctant writer and don’t want to have two!!! I’ve been looking for a book like this one!!!

  149. Jennifer S says

    This looks like a great resource. I am always looking for ways to immerse my kiddos in language and writing.

  150. says

    My daughter is in kindergarten. I’m a little concerned that with all the other things they must learn, handwriting isn’t receiving as much focus as it did when I went to school. It sounds like the kind of book I’ve been looking for to help me assist my kids with some of the basics.

  151. Hilary Sunderland says

    So glad to learn about this book. Can’t wait to buy it to use with my grandchildren!

  152. Cassieblanca says

    I, and my 4-year-old champion scribbler and budding writer, would love – LOVE – a copy of this book. We have been looking for some inspiration for when the need to write strikes, and this sounds like it might be just perfect!

  153. says

    I’m a first grade teacher and I love anything that encourages writing at an early age. This looks like a great book and it needs to site on my professional shelf.
    June

  154. Erin says

    Thanks for the chance to win! I would love to have this as a resource in helping my own very reluctant 4-year-old.

  155. Carla says

    This interview was so encouraging. I don’t consider myself a very artistic or creative mom (I really want to be though!). So, I am so worried that my son will never show an interest in art. Well, I’ve been inspired by reading this interview and by reading both blogs. I can’t wait to try out a few of the activities. I especially love the idea of the scribbling journal. My son is 18 months old but he just loves to scribble on “mama’s” paper. He likes imitating me when I write out a grocery list. I will take that as a good sign : )

  156. says

    I have a kindergartner in occupational therapy to help him develop stronger fine motor skills and this post is just what we need – great timing. I would be thrilled to get the book to use with both my 5 year-old and 2 year-old.

  157. Mandi says

    Awesome resource for helping spark the writing fire in our little ones! I can’t wait to read it, and implement the ideas within!

  158. Callie says

    This looks like a great book! My 4 yr old recieves OT and I really needed to hear this…what great ideas! Thanks for the givaway!

  159. Christine says

    As a teacher and a mother of a two year old, this book looks amazing! Thanks for sharing, ladies!~

  160. youclevermonkey says

    My youngest daughter has had a scribble book for use in the car mostly (we live at least 15mins from anywhere)since she was 18mths old. Her pencil grip now is perfect for writing and will even self-correct it if it’s not right.
    I love the shopping for letters – might try that with Miss nearly 5 as her letter recognition has been a bit sketchy and she won’t persist with things that aren’t fun.

  161. says

    It looks like I missed the deadline for this one, but I want to thank you for drawing our attention to this book and author. I will have to get it!

  162. Barb E says

    Where can I find the letters that you used on the rocks? These would be fun in my classroom. I use most of these ideas in my classroom already but you also have some other great ideas as well! Can’t wait to try them!

  163. says

    Very cool. I never thought of the game scrabble as a game that trains child to write better. I always thought the best way to get better at writing is to write. I would assume exploring more ways to engage your imagination would help both kids and adults with writing.