We have had a GREAT return back to the classroom! I long break was definitely needed to renew (and get us all healthy again)! I have to tell you, Friends, that the week after a long break is usually very challenging in the classroom. It's almost like starting way back in September again. Kids usually forget the rules and behavior can be challenging at times. Well... not this year! I have been pleasantly surprised at the smooth transition back into the classroom! Kids were so happy to see each other, ready to learn, and started their hard work right away. Honestly, this is the smoothest transition back into the classroom that I can remember (and that's a long time because I've been teaching for 20 years now!) So, please give your kids an extra hug from me and let them know how fabulous they are!!!
You may have noticed that the kids have been bringing home random pictures with no writing lately. These papers are not part of our Writer's Workshop assignments, but they are simply pictures that kids have had fun drawing and coloring. Now, many of you may be thinking that this is a waste of good instructional time, but I'm here to tell you why it's a valued time during our week.
Each day, during Writer's Workshop, kids are asked to draw a specific picture that they are going to tell a story about. They get to choose their own topics, but the picture and story they are telling need to be about themselves, show somewhere they are in the illustration, and show some sort of action. It's hard work and takes a lot of small motor coordination to create their plans for the writing. Then, students write about their pictures.
I've been noticing that many of the kids in the class struggle with illustrating, which is actually the pre-writing stage of our written pieces. Many kids simply need more time to develop their hand muscles, explore with crayons and markers, and just "play" with illustrating. The kids love to draw "roller coasters" which is where they take several crayons in their hands and go around and around and around and around. While this is a great developmental step, it's not exactly what we are looking for in Writer's Workshop time. Kids need time to do this and need to experience what this feels like, which is why we spend a few minutes during our week to let kids draw and color anything they'd like. We make roller coasters, rainbows, volcanoes, and monsters... all of those things that kids want to explore but might not fit into the Writer's Workshop model.
Please keep in mind that this type of free drawing and coloring, whether it is with markers, pencils, crayons, or paint is one of the best opportunities you can give to your child at home. It's great for small motor development, hand-eye coordination, imaginative story telling, and provides kids the opportunity to "play" with illustrating and writing.
Happy drawing, scribbling, swirling, and coloring!