Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Writing happens in stages, just as walking & talking do.

1. The Talk/Listen/Talk Loop
This is the first back-and-forth between parent and child, which is already building the child's capacity for language.

2. Play
Acting out stories(personal or imaginative). Set up a corner in your house for your child to dress up & act. Giving your child plentiful time for play is going to make him a better writer.

3. Making Pictures
Encourage your child make visual representations of people, places, special things & events in the child's life.

4. Stringing Letters
Let your child write letters of alphabet randomly. This is an important stage of writing development even if it looks incidental.

5. Labelling Drawings with Parts of Words
Your child will start to label a picture of a house with 'h' or any other letters, RH. This is a natural next step.

6. Labelling Drawings with Whole Words.
This activity will teach your child 'words & ideas connect'.

7. Drawing Connected Pictures Over Multiple Pages
Your child will return to pictures to tell a longer, more complex story. Don't stop your child because he is learning how to narrate.

8. Stringing Words
Now your child is beginning to understand adding words will create dimensions & complexity in his idea(I go park.). He will want to write stories down in exactly the same way he talks.

9. Building Sentences
You child will begin to write in complete sentences - I went to the park. This is a big step toward lifetime literacy. All the steps that come before it were the building blocks that led up to this one. Teach him to use a fullstop, a comma, a question mark to make his sentence more and more complex.

10. Making Paragraphs
Your child will learn to build paragraphs like an architect builds a house, putting all the new knowledge of sentence-making together into bigger collections of ideas.

Don't forget to applaud every small step your child takes. Foster the growth of his ability and desire to express himself in his own personal way.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Inspiring Amir During Breakfast

This morning Amir ((9+) wanted peanut butter toast and milk for breakfast. As I suggested in my previous post, keep writing tools and a note book in your kitchen. To get him started, I said, "Let's play a game. Maybe you can write about things you see in the kitchen(what a boring suggestion!)..."
But I was lucky, something caught his eyes. He immediately said, " You mean like that freaking banana?"
So the 'freaking banana(s)' was the first
word he wrote under 'funny words'. His other words were:

2. weird black bread
3. sticky gooey peanut butter
4. milk- milky way
5. egghead eggspierd(from the word expired)
6. I am berry sorry (from 'strawberry')

As you can see Amir has handwriting issues but for now I let him enjoy creating funny words in the kitchen. When he finished his toast I encouraged him to write words to describe his peanut butter toast. Alhamdulillah mission accomplished. All in 15minutes!!

Give Your Child A Writing Life

It's year-end holidays again and like all stayhome mums, i'm thinking of what to do to keep my 9 year old son, Amir, not glued to the computer & tv all day long. It means bonding time with me. This holiday i'm focusing on giving him a WRITING LIFE. Pam Allyn, the Executive Director and founder, LitWorld and author of What to Read When, has inspired me with her book Your Child's Writing Life.

1. Keep writing tools & a small notebook in a basket/box everywhere in the house.
 - in the kitchen: encourage him to write about food that he eats, write recipes(while you cook) & grocery lists before going shopping with you. Who knows this is the beginning of Masterchef in the making!

-in the living/family room: encourage him to write about you(the most important being in his life!), his dad, his siblings, family activities(past & future). Before long you'll be getting 'I love u mum' ( & also 'I hate Kak Long') notes. 

- in his bedroom: encourage him to write about his friends, his school, his dreams & his imaginary world. 

A reminder to parents: support & encourage your children to write with enthusiasm. Focus less on their spelling errors and sentence structures. We want them to enjoy expressing themselves. We want them to become confident with their writing abilities. By giving them this opportunity you are helping your children grow emotionally & develop critical thinking. 

And according to Pam Allyn, the secret of how to raise a writer is for us to be dedicated listeners. So if your child is not comfortable to start writing, let him talk, tell you stories. Then slowly get him to pen his thoughts.

Sayonara Year1Textbook, Hello Readeasy Phonics.

Greetings to all after such a long break. I hope it's not to late to wish all Msian teachers Happy Holidays. And how did the Year 1 English teachers find teaching phonics for the first time this year? Do email me at for comments & questions. I'm also on facebook.

Starting today I've decided not to focus so much on Year 1 Phonics(no offence). I believe I've shared enough teaching ideas that will help the teachers move forward. I guess I'm more comfortable talking about my reading series Readeasy Phonics.

So Sayonara Year 1 Textbook & Hello Readeasy Phonics!