Her Letters



Can’t believe today she pulled pine green thin marker across Mother’s Day paper,

Made her way over F and learned the downward slope of R, the slide that distinguishes it from P.

She has her own formula for M, the consistent last pull of the left stick joined to Vl. Her pull is consistent. Never is this line neglected. She knows M is me, Melissa and Mommy. Maki, maple syrup moonlight following her down streets and even into train cars.


It was the R that got her, or maybe F, fickle and flummoxed. “Writing is not for kids” this one proclaimed, while staring down at her angled, not round enough O. “It is not for kids”.

But then, out of some real need, some internal prodding, she asked, “Mommy, is this the word, “from”?

Pine green, the crunch of iceberg lettuce all showing up in letters, straight, strong, and gleaming with meaning. This is what it is to witness your daughter making Mother’s Day cards to her Baba and Godmother. I was so charmed, so absolutely excited, and playing it cool, I forgot to take any pictures.

The cards have flown off now, perhaps pinned to fridges, maybe on a dresser. I wanted to say more, how it all came from her, how I did not have her copy. There was no promise of sugary dessert following the meltdown of P popsicle. I did not lure her with reward. It was all her own lines, the stroke of a three year old girl. Letters were drawn on the inside, as well as in the card.

Raising Writers: Use Preposterous What-ifs


Here’s the second in my new series, Raising Writers.

Exercise: Using Fortunately, by Remy Charlip, as a guide, start a family brainstorm/story that starts with something good, or fortunate.


“FORTUNATELY, I found seven eggs in the Easter Egg Hunt”.

(Now the bad event moves in).

“UNFORTUNATELY, they were rotten eggs that my baby brother burried.

FORTUNATELY, my cousin gave me two chocolate eggs.

UNFORTUNATELY, they were a bit hard. My tooth came out..

FORTUNATELY, the tooth fairy has been known to visit our house.

UNFORTUNATELY, my tooth was accidentally vacuumed.

This can launch an entire drawing & a full page o “what if” storytelling!

Then, together, write! Enjoy.This should not be a time to worry over text, but a time to enjoy brainstorming events. This is also a skill in itself, cause and effect (causal relationships), sequence, and forming and adding vocabulary (fortunately, unfortunately). You are helping them to communicate ideas.

See what sounds they can supply as you collaboratively make a word bank. See what words and sounds they can figure out as you help in dictation, copying their ideas  down.

Specific Goal: Create four statements together, or if your child is able, independently after your discussion, creation of a word bank. 

1. Fortunately,…

2. Unfortunately,…

3. Fortunately,…

4. Unfortunately,…

This is the big, positive leap from ideas (the creative, verbal realm) to representing thoughts using written language. This is how idea are recorded—so they are not lost or forgotten! Those funny and wildly interesting ideas can be shared and enjoyed! We are keeping it fun.

There may be an intrinsic reward of completion as you finish the one verbal to written sentence/idea/box and then another. There may also need to be a physical reward to reinforce their work and completion. Perhaps they may do the thing they’ve been itching to do, like take a run to the park, crack open the juicy melon, open a new puzzle.


Fortunately, I am reminded of a fabulous series that also deals with unfortunate events.

We are helping them to LOVE writing. It can be a very rewarding process.

Happy perhapsing & jotting down all those hilarious what ifs!


Raising Writers: Drawings & Dictation

With the teaching I do & the ideas I employ, I thought I’d start a record of just some of it.

I’ll also use this part of my blog to communicate with parents, I suppose.


See? Kids are natural writers & artists. In the beginning, these two qualities are more integrated.

Ways to Get Your Child to Write


(The ol’ graphic novel trick)

Have you read any Captain Underpants? How ’bout Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid?

How about a more cerebral read, Persepolis?


There is a reason graphic novels are so beloved. Text accompanying pictures is a win.


I say, if we’re after bringing out our child’s voice & raising them up as a writer, we need to get them speaking, drawing, & writing. They’re not alone. Not at first, anyway. We’re with them. We are the encouraging art teacher, the art theapist, the stenographer. Finally, we are their reader, cheerleader, editor, & coach. But the point is, we support.

Do it: Draw situations and moments with your child—it could be a glimpse into a moment when he fell on his new scooter, or how she just tried Salisbury steak or uni for the first time. It could be an illustration recounting a strange experience they just had at the grocery store. Whatever the picture, it should carry fresh experience, even perhaps, emotion.

Here is Goodreads’ marvelous list of graphic novels for kids. 

You are building a bridge from the experience to the paper, using concrete materials and conversation.

You know what? You can use drawn pictures or photographs! The point is discussion & getting ideas & words down on paper.

They may have a spectacular picture of a new shiny bike, but if the their picture is not etched with a very recent shadowing of elation, surprise, pride, or a big scare, or even a fresh scar, this may not be the prime candidate of a picture prompts to use for dictation and writing. Follow excitement and emotion, though. Translation: Jog memories & record them!

Remember together, say, the time she went to Chuck E. Cheese for the first time (if this is fresh & recent).

Think–what  are the events you might journal if you were not much a writer? It would have to be something of weight, something of value, even if seemingly negative.


Proud rider on her 1st trip to school via scooter!

From sunny to snowy, inspire writing that spans the width of their energy & emotions. Remember gladness, remember hurting. Draw when frustrated; use writing & pictures to support one another for FULL  communication.


It would be fun to draw a recent snowfall. This was especially memorable, as two minutes after this photo was snapped, my daughter decided she didn’t need mittens & lame plastic baggies simply would not do. (We missed out on the proper time to buy waterproof gloves). Her little hands felt positively frostbitten. There is great material there for writing.

This is your child who may be the weak, shy, or presently, a non-writer. We build this writing bridge with excitement and great energy, focusing on the ideas and words that spring us to the next image and step.

Your job is to ask the questions, i.e. How did it feel when you fell off your bike and rolled onto gravel? What was it like being new in your karate class today? How did that chili pepper taste when you accidentally bit into Aunt Meg’s picante dish?

Help them stretch out their responses with more questions, if need be.

 Ie, “Think what it will DO for your art! Or, “Think how well we will be able to look back and remember and laugh at these memories together!”

We are showing them the power and fun of writing as it engages us. Writing makes moments last. Writing helps shy kids speak and busy kids focus on one powerful thing. It gives value to our children’s experiences.

Can I be selfish? Their pictures & writing will be treasure for me, too! Their experiences make lasting marks in us, too. Save the work, especially when it marks growth.

You’ll have lots to celebrate.