With Chris Evans’ 2013 500 words competition www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/500words/2012/ for children just about to start it’s made me turn my attention this month to words and in particular inspiring the younger generation.
My youngest child (4yrs) is just learning to read his first words at school. He has words stuck up in the hallway, tricky ones that cannot be sounded out. They are typed onto four flashcards and he has to touch each word and say it in a robot voice as he goes in and out the front door each day. Robots are his thing. We have built a story around the words forming a four word passcode that allows him membership to the special robot club. The club is currently awarding correct passcodes with leftover chocolate coins from Christmas in a handy nook behind the door! It’s so important children get a good foundation in reading and writing and there’s no reason at all (except sheer laziness) that it can’t be fun.
Practising writing the alphabet using an app on an iPad/tablet with finger or pencil is also interesting for kids. My son loves abc PocketPhonics: letter sounds & writing + first words (£1.99 and 4.5 star reviews) where you are guided through forming the letters, hear a letter sound and pick the right letter and then read the phonetic short word. You get coins and virtual badges as rewards and it feels like a game to him. For young children http://www.nurturestore.co.uk/a-z-how-to-write Your child will not even notice they are learning whilst doing these great activities – perfect for rainy weekends or holidays when you have time on your hands.
My older daughter Imogen (9yrs) loves reading and storytelling with a passion. Her room is full of books and having saved up herself she has just bought her own vintage writing desk. Both children have their own little creation stations where they have constantly got on hand everything they need to get busy as soon as the mood strikes them. It can be great fun setting these areas up with your child’s help. Imogen’s has a Harry Potter theme and Wilfred’s has lots of recycled junk that he rescues to make his robot models.
From an early age we spent hours curled up on the sofa reading to her and even now when she is more than capable of reading alone we still love to share a book, get lost in another world together for days at a time. She writes and illustrates her own quirky stories and it gives her so much pleasure. The company letterbox sell a gift pack that allows your child to write and illustrate a story and then send it off included in the original price to have it printed in a book format for them to keep and treasure – perfect for budding authors! www.letterbox.co.uk/write-your-own-book
For engaging older children and showing them how much fun they can have dreaming up scenes and inventing strange characters the BBC is a great starting place. The 500 words competition has a downloadable pdf for parents and teachers alike with ideas to get kids going even if they don’t want to enter the competition itself. There are also some short podcasts from famous childrens’s writers such as David Walliams, Lauren Child, Jacqueline Wilson and the actor Daniel Radcliffe with concise advice and tips on how to write good stories.
It should never be about the end result for a child. Below are some great resources I have come across recently.
Advent should be a time of building excitement and anticipation, and reminding children what Christmas is all about.
When I recently took my family to Watford to visit the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour I didn’t realise what I was letting myself in for. We’d read the books and seen the films so I guess you could say we were already Potter fans…but my expectations were exceeded a hundred fold. It was jaw droppingly awe inspiring.