Children come to Kindergarten along a wide developmental continuum when it comes to writing; some children are writing short sentences, and some are barely ready to pick up a pencil. It becomes clear then that a space in the classroom where children can express themselves graphically in a range of ways and at varying levels is imperative.
This is certainly the case in our classroom. The Graphic Communication Centre is a space in the classroom that provides opportunities for children to communicate thoughts, ideas and experiences by way of dialogue, writing, and graphic representation. In this process, writers move from scribbles or symbols to letters to words and beyond. Materials placed at this centre may include but are not limited to: whiteboards and whiteboard markers, a computer, a mailbox, chalk and chalkboards, different types of paper, a co-constructed alphabet, plain books for each child within which he or she can explore writing, letter stamps and manipulatives, and a range of writing utensils, such as crayons, pencil crayons, markers, etc. Here is an example of one way in which the Graphic Communication Centre was set up on the first day of school.
The following photographs highlight the progression of writing behaviours and abilities in Junior and Senior Kindergarten this year in our context. Children are able to write about topics of interest to them, or engage in writing that supports authentic learning, such as labeling a castle, or creating a menu, for example.
These pieces of graphic representations clearly highlight the wide developmental range represented by our earliest learners across a variety of contexts. Our job as educators is to meet them where they are, and move them forward in ways that are meaningful and authentic to them.
This is the name of everyone in my family.
Dear mom, I hope you feel better.
Teacher scaffolding: Writing the first few words, allowing the child to complete the remainder.
The horse says Nay. The skunk says I am going to stink you. The chicken says stop skunk.
Today I made a paper airplane.
Beginning to write longer phrases and sentences…
The rabbit goes in the hole.
Do you like that you lost a tooth?
I wonder why there’s still green leaves outside.
Scaffolded writing strategy: The teacher draws lines corresponding to the size of each word dictated by the student to support stamina in writing.
Song lyrics to “We wish you a Merry Christmas.”
This child no longer uses the scaffolded writing strategy. The child demonstrates stamina in her writing, and the experience has modelled creating space between words.
Graphic communication in the classroom is not limited to one centre, but rather, must be seen as integrated throughout the classroom environment. Whether your students are labelling racetracks or castles, writing on recently-produced creations, or creating survey questions for their peers, honour the developmental range and the individual abilities of each student. Kindergarten in Ontario is a two-year program!