At Opal School we are discovering that literacy development is strongest when a learner has rich and varied experiences. Literacy is how we interpret our relationship to the world; how we read the world and share it back. As teacher-researchers, we listen and invite children to share their experiences and ideas through the creative use of materials and meaningful opportunities to write.
This year, the Primary Team of Teachers is wondering:
- How is play a form of writing, and writing a form of play? How can the children teach us about these relationships?
- How will we encourage a love of writing as a form of play that is joyful and authentic, even while the process of learning to write can feel hard?
- How will we help empower children to see themselves as writers with important ideas to share with the world?
To fully explore these questions, we knew we needed to invite children to see themselves as co-researchers. We wanted to share with you several vignettes of children’s voices in conversations with their teachers and friends. They are sharing about their process and their emotions. They are reflecting on themselves as storytellers, writers, authors, and agents of their own learning. They are offering windows into their relationship with writing and the role play has in literacy for children from 5-7 years old.
At clean up from Explore, FD grabbed a pen and paper from the writing center and shared, “I needed these letters to help me say my tower fell over and I had to rebuild it!”
Later a teacher asked FD about his writing. He said, “You get to write letters, and they can say anything. I build like, everyday. We were playing in blocks and I was still writing. I like writing…. I was sad cause it was a really awesome tower.”
FD’s writing: I builded a tower and had to rebuild it.
“I am capturing the book about the eye in this painting.” -AS
“What book?” -Teacher
“I was making a little book and I found an idea so fast! And I was like wow that is a good idea. Then I changed the book into my idea. It is like your head is a store, full of ideas and you just have to find them! Now I am painting my idea…. As I paint I come up with more and more new ideas… turning the paint into my ideas.” -AS
GR re-read his story and then said he was going to start a new story.
He said, “I need to build it.” The teacher started to think he was going to blocks again, but GR continued, “…But not build like with blocks. I’m ready to build my story with words today.”
Later GR shares, “I just wanted to write it down. I wrote it about the blocks I had built before…. It’s my style. It’s about a tower. I like to build. I built it with words…. It was kind of playing with words, seeing which ones work to make it a better story. It’s kind of like, playing with word is like playing with blocks… like I’m building it up.”
Excerpt from GR’s story: This tower is being constructed.
“My story excites me… I’m excited to do it, to write it! Some parts I know, they are mapped out and some parts come to me when I’m writing. It just makes me excited! The next day, and the next, I really want to go and write more and see what happens next in my story.” -OR
OR returns to his writing: The boy fainted! There were some people who saw him faint….
“I DO love puppies and a saw an easy-to-read book that wasn’t much to read. That inspired me to write a book that has more of the actual story in it. I went back to it three times. I like to finish stories. I take the finished stories and put them in the library…. Real books go in the library and my book is a real book, written by me.” -AD
An excerpt from AD’s story: I bought a puppy! The puppy liked its new home.
In seeking further understanding of the relationship between writing and play, the Primary Teaching Team has begun to uncover a powerful world of connections that are provoking even more questions for us to ponder. We are knee-deep in co-research with children around what it means to have ideas, stories and information you want to share with yourself, your community, your family and the world.