Creative Writing

Creative writing is not an App.  Book reading is not an App either, but just as children who pass through this program are encouraged to read as many books as are available to them, they are encouraged to write and write often.

The goal of this program is to allow children to read and to write comfortably and with enjoyment. Creative writing allows children to internalize the learning taking place by providing each child the opportunity to use the skills he or she has acquired.

Stamping and Creative Writing - The First Phase
In creative writing, the object is to have the child write or "stamp" whatever he or she wishes. Children who are just learning to read and write have little or no practice in writing anything. Parents often read to their children, but how often do they write with them?

Children will sit with a book and pretend to read it, and this pretend reading may actually involve the child's telling a story to match the pictures in the book. Children may sit and pretend to write as well. But the pretend writing is not usually accompanied by a story to match the squiggly lines.

Once the child knows all 44 sounds and has shown that he or she can hear the sounds in words and stamp them out, creative writing begins. Creative writing means writing what you want, not writing what you are told to write.

What will a child think of to write if the child has never written anything before? Parents or teachers may need to provide writing suggestions at the start, until each child learns that what to write is as easy to think of as what to say.

As children begin the creative writing process, a teacher can ask, for example, "What shall we tell your mother or father you did at school today?" A parent can ask, for example, "What would you do if you had super powers?" When the child thinks of something to say, the teacher or parent can say, "You can you use Stamping to write out what you just said?"

Anything the child can say is something the child can stamp out. What did you do on vacation? What was your favorite part of Disneyland? Can you stamp out the names of everyone in your family? Any question a parent or teacher might ask a child can have its answer stamped out in sounds.

At first, writing may consist of only a few words, and these few words may not be readable by anyone but the child. However, each word written is a starting point. If the sounds have all been heard and stamped correctly, there is one less word to learn to write. If the word is missing a sound or two or three, the or teacher can help the child hear each sound and, together with the child, make the word more readable.

When the child has mastered the art of simple writing, real creative writing begins. Asking and answering questions is a good starting point, but writing creatively means more than that. Creative writing means learning to let your imagination run free and capturing your imagination in written words.

To encourage the child to think creatively, it is beneficial initially for the teacher or parent to provide the child with topics about which he or she may write.

There are two reasons why it is helpful for the parent or teacher to suggest topics.  The first is to expand the child’s concept of subjects for writing.  Topics provide the child with subjects to write about that may not have occurred to the budding author.

The second reason is that suggestions can lead the child to writing a series of stories that can be incorporated into thematic books.  The notion of books to be written can lead to even more writing.  Monster Stories, for example, could be the book made from different stories a child writes about monsters. 

It is not difficult to think of topics to suggest to the creative writers.  Monster stories is just one.  Other topics could be: What would you do if you were a police officer?  What would you wish for if you had three (or more) wishes? What would you do if you were magic? Can you write a scary story?  What is your favorite story that I have read to you? Can you write a story like that? And so on.  Once the child begins seeing the possibilities, his or her own imagination will take over.

Each page written can be accompanied by an illustration.  Words on one page, picture on the next, then more words then more pictures.  Words and pictures stapled together yield a book the child can read and share with others.

A Teaching Tool
Creative writing is also an important teaching tool. What was said in Stamping is paraphrased here for emphasis:

Each time the child writes something to share, the parent or teacher reads with the child what the child has stamped out. This padult-child reading helps the child hear more correctly the sounds that make up words.

Parents and teachers have an advantage over the child in listening for the sounds in words. Adults already know how most words are spelled. Adults also bring with them an understanding of the sounds that make up words that the child does not yet possess.

As an infant learns to speak, parents offer constant feedback on the words the infant says. As a child learns to read and write, adult feedback is equally important. A teacher or parent sitting with a child reviewing what the child has stamped out and discussing with that child the changes to be made is providing the same feedbactk to the child that the infant child received when learning to speak.

Stamping and Creative Writing - The Second Phase
Once children begin transitioning out of the Reading Program, which means once they begin learning to write letters for the sounds, creative writing enters a second phase. Every story a child has already written with the sounds can now be written in letters with the sounds used as the letter guides.

To make it possible for the child to write letters for the sounds in the stories already written, teachers and parents can add the silent letter stamp wherever silent letters may occur. On the printed copy of the stories, a parent or teacher can also write number codings or double-stars beneath the sounds to indicate the sound's spelling to be used.

If time is short, the child can write first spellings from the decoding chart for all the sounds on the printed copy of the story. Once this first writing is complete, the parent or teacher can read what the child has written and add in any needed spelling codes. The Sightword Worksheets provide the child with so many words that he or she will know how to spell correctly that there will not be much for the parent to have to change.

Teachers or parents helping the child learn to write letters for the sounds need to be aware of Outlaw Words. For an explanation of Outlaw Words and how the child learns to spell them, click on the Outlaw Words button in the menu bar above.

Stamping and Creative Writing - The Third Phase
For the third phase of creative writing all the child needs is a computer’s word processor or a blank piece of paper and a pencil. No outwardly visible sound images are used at this level. The sounds are present in every child's head.

What children ask teachers or parents at this level is, not what sounds form the words, but which spellings of the sounds to use.

In a classroom setting, children at the third level of creative writing write their stories first on large individual chalkboards.  When the writing is complete, it is shown to the teacher, who then makes needed spelling corrections.  The corrected writing is then copied to lined paper.

In the home environment, a large chalkboard could be used, but a computer’s word processor works even better.  The child can type out a story in a large readable font (like Chalkboard for the Mac).  When the child has finished writing, the parent can sit with the child and correct spellings.  The parent can also talk about the use of capital letters, periods, commas, and whatever other style conventions are needed in the story.  The corrected version is then ready for printing and an accompanying illustration.

The word processor’s spell checker will alert the child to some misspellings, but the spell checker cannot teach the child that the word meet is spelled meat for this sentence, or which to, too, two, goes here.  For this, the child needs an adult oran older child who can spell.

The goal of this Reading Program is to allow children to learn to read and to write with confidence. Once this goal has been achieved, it is theteacher's or parent's willing responsibility to insure this reading and writing ability is given opportunity for endless use.