Google+ bakers and astronauts: Writing: Part Three

05 March 2009

Writing: Part Three

Inventive spelling is a stage of writing development that happens when children are allowed to explore and play with letters. When I began teaching, I will admit is was a little mysterious to me. I do not remember doing this as a child, and I certainly don't have any evidence that I did. But it is amazing to watch a child enter this stage because of how happy it makes them that people can read what they have written! It is a powerful thing to link letter sounds back to the letter and write it down.

In the examples that follow, the children were at the writing center in the classroom during choice time. My assistant and I have a policy of not spelling out words for the children whom we know are capable of spelling inventively. The examples come from the work of those children. Our assistance comes in the form of slowing down a word and helping them hear the individual sounds that a word contains, and celebrating them getting letters down onto the page.

For example, if a child is spelling "zoo", and I say "zzzz", they will hear a distinctive "z" sound; or perhaps they offer an "s". That's fine. Then I say "ooooo", and they say, "u", that is fine. I point at their word and slowly say "zzz-ooo, zoo!" I do not mind if it says "zu" ot "su" -- they can read it, and an adult who understands the concept of inventive spelling can as well.

Consonants are much easier to distinguish a sound from than vowels, and that is definitely reflected in inventive spelling. One of my students is constantly writing books with the same title: Princess, Princess, Princess. She includes all but one of the consonants here, and no vowels. This is a child who is very interested in princesses; and I imagine that her high exposure to the word "princess" in books and understanding of print has helped her remember the distinctive look of the "ss"at the end of the word.

"The Kid Who Found Two Triangles In The Sky"


This last example includes vowels -- children seem more likely to include ones at the end of words, especially when they have a distictive sound like "ee" or "oh".

I have seen parents and educators helping children spell by slowing down words to make different, distinct sounds, but then correct the children when they don't suggest the correct letter. How frustrating! If a child hears "k" at the beginning of "cookie"when they are five years old, is that a problem? In my opinion, no. Just today, the boy who wrote "The Kid Who Found Two Triangles In The Sky" wrote a book called "The Money Maker", and wrote "THE MNE MKR". He is beginning to memorize common, high usage words. As he learns more in higher grades, he will learn about sound blending and long and short vowels, but we have no need for that right now.

We just want children to feel that they are writers, no matter what they put on the page.

Next : Writing Stories and Books!
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