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Viva Scribbling and Drawing! It Leads to Writing

by Melissa Taylor | March 29, 2012 | Early Education & Literacy

Children are born storytellers and authors. Did you know that even the scribbles and drawings of a child count as writing? Yes! In fact, you’re seeing a writer grow before your very eyes because these are important pre-writing skills.

A Scribble a Day

Make scribbling and drawing part of every day. In an easily accessible area, provide paper and drawing supplies.

  • notepads
  • paper of all colors
  • envelopes
  • sticky notes
  • pencils
  • thick markers and crayons
  • chalk
  • glue
  • tape
  • finger paint
  • easel

Encourage your child to write and draw. Say, “We should write a story about going to the park!” or “I would love if you drew me a picture of this.”

FUN IDEA: Draw lines and swirls in play dough.

You Scribble, I Scribble, We All Scribble

Your child learned to speak because of you. Now, show her how to write in the same way: you writing. Let her watch you make a grocery list, write an email . . . anything that you write. Suggest that she writes her own list, too.

FUN IDEA: Write a story together. You write your child’s ideas down and he illustrates.

Drawing as Writing

Wordless picture books tell stories just like your child’s drawings tell a story. Say, “Tell me more about your picture.” Drawing counts as storytelling.

FUN IDEA: Try a kid-friendly tablet drawing app.

The Letter Millipede?

Soon a child’s scribbles become letterish shapes. Now children may write an “E” that looks like a millipede turned sideways with ten lines instead of three. That’s okay. When a child learns to write letters, he’s imitating curves, lines, and shapes to start.

FUN IDEA: Write letters in wet sand.

K for Cat

Eventually those strange looking letterish shapes will become real letters and children will learn the corresponding sounds. Until then, encourage your child to listen for the sound and write the matching letter they hear even if they spell cat with a k. This is called invented spelling. It’s important for a child to feel confident in this writing stage. Kid spelling is encouraged.

FUN IDEA: Make a letter hopscotch. Jump on the letter, say its name and sound(s).

Dos and Don’ts for Young Writers 

Do encourage scribbling and drawing.

Don’t tell a child he’s “doing it wrong.”

Do ask questions like, “What is this about?”

Don’t ask questions like, “Is this a bear?” (Hint: it probably isn’t.)

Do call scribbles “writing.”

Don’t call scribbles “scribbles.”

Do teach your child to write the letters in his name.

Don’t start until he’s ready. (3 or 4 years old.)

Viva Los Scribbles!

Celebrate your young author’s writing! Every time you see another scribble or a drawing of a smiling stick figure family, remember that you’re growing a writer and it’s all good.