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Sidewalk Chalk

by Maureen Slamer

“Nana, let’s make pictures!” Charlie yelled as she jumped down the garage steps. “The chalk’s up there,” Charlie pointed.

Nana looked. Up on the shelf sat a large bin of sidewalk chalk. She grabbed the bin and walked outside.

“Let’s make Itsy.” Charlie looked inside the bin. “I want a yellow Itsy.” Charlie drew a large circle shape. Legs protruded from around its body. “See Nana, I made Itsy!”

“What would you like me to make, Charlie?” Nana asked.

“Dinosaur.”

“A dinosaur. Hmmm…” Nana mumbled.

“Dinosaur with spikes,” Charlie requested.

Nana thought and thought and began to draw. Charlie watched. “It needs spikes!”

“Help me with those, Charlie.”

Charlie and Nana worked and worked. The dinosaur was huge. “What shall we name him?” Nana asked.

“Spike!”

“Can you help me with that? S-s-s-s, Spike.”

“S, you need S,” Charlie giggled.

“Yup, you need S and do you hear anything else? S- p- i- k- e,” Nana said slowly.

“P, that’s a P. I can make one, up here.”

“Yes, you can. You write up there. I’ll write down here.”



Charlie, age 3.

All They Need Is Support

Even our littlest ones can write. Their first attempts as they engage with writing may not resemble letters; it could be a drawing. That is okay. They are learning. They are copying, as best they can, the model the adult is providing. This is how learning to write starts. Charlie wanted to make pictures, first a spider, the Itsy, then for Nana to make the dinosaur. She was excited to immerse herself into the drawing. That dinosaur needed spikes. She contributed as a three year old would. Nana invited Charlie to help both in the drawing and in figuring out how to write Spike. She accepted Charlie’s response and invited her to write what she could, a P. There are many, many informal opportunities to write naturally. The sidewalk was the canvas for drawing, and writing became an extension to name the dinosaur. This same idea could  be replicated as kids build in the sand or draw in the dirt. So let’s look outside the box for opportunities to write!

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