This year, I’ve spent a lot of time meeting my 3- and 4-year old young mark makers where they are and helping them become the authors I know they can be. For some, it’s using mentor texts to to inspire like stories and for others, it’s free mark making to retell a favorite adventure.
In my class are two naturally inquisitive learners with vivid imaginations who naturally take action to make the world a better place. Their one biggest complaint is that they can’t “write like a big kid” (read: “I can’t write words like my bigger sibling”). So here is an example of how I helped them “write like a big kid” and change their outlook on becoming an author.
One calm November afternoon, we were all playing in the Early Childhood share space. While playing “zoo,” two boys noticed a toy crocodile with a ripped mouth. Since we had a role play vet clinic in our classroom, they thought it was best to bring the croc back to the clinic for some attention. But in our classroom clinic the boys quickly realized that we did not have the capability to help the croc “get better” so they decided to take it to the nurse.
Our school nurse (an amazingly patient woman) played along with their role play and gave the crocodile as much attention as she’d give an injured student. With the boys’ assistance, she bandaged the crocodile’s mouth and asked the students to return the croc a few days later. The nurse even sent the crocodile (and his caregivers) an email to remind them about the appointment.
Amazingly, when the nurse removed the bandage, the crocodile’s mouth was healed and the boys were relieved.
…but the story didn’t stop there.
I printed off some photos I took of the adventure and I asked the boys what we should do with them. Without hesitation, they decided that they needed to create a book for our classroom library. I gave them paper and asked them to begin writing their story. But this time, mark making wasn’t going to cut it for them. These boys wanted a book with “big kid words” that they could take home and read to their family.
So I moved to Plan B. I offered my hands for their words and they thoughtfully agreed. As a team, we went to the classroom library and picked out a mentor text that we could use as a model for how we write a book. The Little Dinos Don’t Yell text was selected because, “Dinosaurs are scary like crocodiles” and “They both have sharp teeth.” (Well… that’s as good a reason as any, right?)
Conducting a mini Writer’s Workshop, I thought the boys would write their own stories… but they begged me to write the words for them because they wanted “everyone to understand them.” So my fingers and their words collaborated to create beautiful stories about a hurt crocodile.
But more special than their beautiful books, their parents joy, and my pride as an educator is the smiles the boys had on their faces when I called them AUTHORS in front of the whole class!
Each morning when they get to school, the boys run off to the role play area and start making memories so they can mark-make their next story. I can’t wait to see what they’ll create next.