Writing essentials and creating writing opportunities for young children

People often ask me how I taught my children to read and write and I always start by telling them to put aside pens, pencils and paper, and create lots of mark making opportunities. 

Mark Making, in the Early years, is not just about encouraging Early Writing, but it's providing children with sensory and physical play experiences. This can take many different forms as there are so many ideas that you can explore, in order to give your child a fun play activity. It also encourages and incorporates early Maths and Science along the way. 

Over the years I have provided many different Mark Making activities for my kiddies from sand and water play and painting with string to outdoor chalking and printing with potatoes. There are so many creative ideas in order to encourage creativity and spark curiosity.  

I have found that activities such as using plastic tweezers to move small objects from one container to another or using a plastic needle for early threading and sewing, have really helped my children with the 'froggy legs' skill that they need to go on and hold a pen or pencil properly. 

The 'froggy legs' grip is where the pencil should be held in the “tripod” grip between the thumb and the first two fingers (we call this "froggy legs"). The grip is the same for both left and right handed children.

Once the kiddies are ready, and showing signs of wanting to pick up pencils, then they have already learnt how to grip them properly. They can then start drawing lines, curves, shapes and whatever other squiggles they think up. 

As they become more confident readers, the quality and quantity of their writing seems to increase and I have found that by around age six that they are ready for different writing opportunities. First they enjoy writing shopping lists, words they have noticed around them and little letters to friends and family.

Here are some further writing ideas that my children enjoy and they write according to their abilities:

 Fiction writing

Writing stories that raise issues e.g bullying
Writing mysteries
Historical stories - researching time periods
Science Fiction stories
Humorous stories
Stories with Dilemmas
Stories with a twist

Non-Fiction writing

Writing arguments
Newsletters/Magazine articles
Newspaper reports
Instructions e.g. how to play a game, recipes

There are many different stationery items for early writing on the market. We have been trying out these right-handed pens and pencils by Stabilo. 

'STABILO EASY original ergonomic rollerball pen is a handwriting pen approved by UK teachers and is specially designed for left or right handers. It is a must-have in every pencil case. Ideal for learning to write with its moulded grip zone and slightly arched shape allowing young hands to hold the pen in the correct way without any strain. Writing with the STABILO EASYoriginal is very relaxed and prevents muscles from tiring so that all school children can really enjoy learning to write without any cramps. The stylish and comfortable rollerball, glides easily over paper. Its sturdy nib means that it will not break or bend under pressure, nor will it get scratchy or blot. What's more, each refill comes with a brand new nib, meaning the handwriting pen always stays fresh and there is no mess during a change over.'

DS7 has been using this soft easy writing pen to write his stories. This well thought out pen allowed his hand to be poised at variant angles allowing him to write with ease as the ink flowed freely onto the page, almost effortless. It's perfect for young children to easily grasp, relieving the stress from the hand as they try to quickly get all those imaginative ideas, that a bouncing around in their head, onto the paper. 

DD4 has even been trying the pen out to carefully form her letters. Check out our little clip here

We also have the Ergonimic triangular graphite pencils, desgined especially for right-handers. They are excellent quality and the lead hasn't snapped off whilst DS7 answered his maths questions. These are the first pencils he will pick up to use when he wants to quickly get on with his work first thing in a morning. They are well worth the money as they don't need to be sharpened as often as other pencils and have a lovely grip. The triangular shape helps with the 'froggy legs' grasping technique.  

'STABILO EASYgraph is the first ergonomic handwriting pencil approved by UK teachers, specially designed for left or right handers to ensure that the correct grip is found from the start. The triangular shape and the non-slip grip moulds ensure a relaxed posture. It is a must-have for every child beginning their learning to write path and in every pencil case. STABILO worked closely with educationalists, scientists and designers to develop optically appealing and ergonomically suitable pencils for children to write with. This is important, as research has proved that holding a handwriting pencil incorrectly can impair a child’s performance at school. STABILO’s ergonomic designed products focus on comfort and efficiency. Using an ergonomic product helps to avoid unhealthy stress, tiredness and potential damage to the posture of the hand. Therefore, it is vital to have the correct tools during the most important part of a child’s life, SCHOOL. On the basis of these findings STABILO has developed a range of ergonomic products that form part of the STABILO EASY Start Family.'

Finally here is the Mechanical Handwriting pencil with thick lead!
All the kiddies were intrigued with this pencil, which they all thought was a pen. It writes beautifully and comes with a sharpener. All the pens and pencils come in different colours and are available for right and left handers! This pencil is great as a first pencil for children that are learning to write. DD4 will be using this as she completes her early writing books in a morning alongside her siblings as they do their learning. She feels very grown up now! :) Take a look at DS7 using the pencil here.

'The mechanical STABILO EASYergo handwriting pencil is part of the STABILO EASY Family and has a 3.15 mm thick and break-resistant lead. This extra thick mechanical pencil has been designed specifically to help children with their handwriting from the moment they start to learn. The graphite pencil comes with a convenient sharpener, so you will never have a dull pencil in your pencil case. Research has proved that holding a pen incorrectly can impair a child’s performance at school. STABILO’s ergonomic designed products focus on comfort and efficiency. Using an ergonomic product helps to avoid unhealthy stress, tiredness and potential damage to the posture of the hand. With different versions for left and right-handers its soft moulded trio grip zone encourages the recommended dynamic tripod grip. It’s easy to use mechanism propels out an extra thick lead, which reduces breakages no matter how heavy handed a child is. Get started with the STABILO EASYergo 3.15 mm!'

DS7 says, 'The blue pen is my favourite because it is the first pen I have used. It helps me to write my letters better and I love the colour blue.'

If you would like further information or would like to purchase, then here are the links (different colours are available for both right and left handers) perfect for your Home Ed classrooms!:

Happy Writing! :)

Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post and all opinions are my own. 


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