Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Pumpkin Planting Creative Writing

I have been wanting to encourage Eve to do some creative writing for a while now but wasn't sure where to start so....... I picked my lovely Mum's brains (retired infant school teacher and educator extraordinaire........ if I could have been assured that someone like my mum would have taught my girls they may very well have gone to school but I couldn't so they didn't!!!).

Anyway.... Mum suggested trying writing instructions as a project and I thought that planting pumpkin seeds might be a good place to start as most of the words were within her spelling capability. Let's just say that it was a learning curve for both of us!

I had not appreciated how difficult the task would be for her! For starters she had to remember to punctuate with capital letters and full stops, to keep her letters sitting on the line and to leave a gap between words. Then she had to remember all the letter formations and create them whilst keeping in her head the next letter she wanted to write. She spelled the words out fine, but then lost them again when she put pencil to paper which she found really frustrating. She also struggled to remember the sentence that she wanted to say and so after writing two words was floundering at what to put next.

Eve has wonderfully creative language and expression verbally and wanted to write huge long sentences that sounded beautiful but weren't practical for a first try. I therefore helped her to simplify them but then felt that perhaps it wasn't creative writing as such as I had modified her words! perhaps it was more 'writing for a purpose'. On the bright side it helped her to think about the task in hand, which was to write five simple instructions to help someone who had never planted a pumpkin seed before to do it. Talking through the sentences together helped her to see how explicit she might need to be, for example instead of 'water it', she needed to say 'water the seed'.

I was also greatly impressed with her natural spelling. I thought she would struggle with 'water' but she pulled all of the sounds out correctly and I was really pleased for her as we haven't done a lot of 'spelling' as such, so she isn't well practised with techniques. One thing that I think I fell short on was in 'not correcting her' as I did correct her. for example, she knew how to spell 'the' but wrote it down as 'e-h-t'. When I pointed it out she got really upset and I think that I shouldn't have mentioned it as it will come as she writes more and more.

So over all..... It was a slightly fraught process for us, but I learned a lot to put into practice next time, and Eve was proud of the finished results! I think for next time I will model more and correct less. I'm also going to start a dictionary system for her so she can keep a record of words she uses regularly, as well as sight words she knows and a letter formation prompt sheet to provide a bit of security around her that she doesn't have to remember everything all at once!

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