slice of life · writing

Best Intentions

Working in school.
Working in school.

I intended to volunteer in Isabelle’s preschool classroom — helping the kids make books — this morning. However, her school is having a play this Thursday and the kids are being pulled out of class to practice this morning. (Don’t get me started on this because they’re missing all of Wednesday morning so they can rehearse on stage.) I asked her teacher if she knew when the play practice would happen. She didn’t. Knowing that I had a lot of coursework to grade for my graduate students, I knew I couldn’t devote my morning to sitting around and waiting for the kids to go to and from play practice. So, I canceled and told Isabelle’s teacher I’d be in next week.

Isabelle’s teacher was fine with the fact I wouldn’t be coming in to help with writing today. Isabelle, on the other hand, was unhappy. And she let her frustration be known. Therefore, I did what any other parent (whose child won’t sit down and write with them at home) would do… I offered to sit down at the writing center with Isabelle when I dropped her off to work on a book.

“Just with me, Mommy, right?” Isabelle asked.

“Yes, I’ll work with you after you do your morning routines,” I responded.

“Not with my friends. Just with me. ‘Kay, Mommy?” Isabelle demanded.

Jealous much?

“Yes, I’ll work with only you. I have to get home to do my work.” I reminded her.

She seemed satisfied.

We began orally rehearsing Isabelle’s story in the car. At first, Isabelle claimed she didn’t know what to write about. Eventually, she settled on the story of buying a bike with training wheels yesterday. I didn’t think it made a particularly grand story, but it was her story to tell, not mine. So I went with it.

By the time we got to school, she forgot how to tell her story. I made her sit down with her stapled booklet and retell the story across pages, touching each one as she told the story. She lost some of the details she told me in the car. I tried not to push (too hard). Here’s what she came up with in the end:

Drawing the bike was difficult for Isabelle. I modeled a simple bike drawing on a sticky note to help her get started.
I encouraged Isabelle to add some details to the picture that would show she was riding around the toy store, trying out bikes. She wasn’t ready to do that since she “didn’t know what to draw.”
We practiced ending with an action and an emotional statement during the car ride to school. The emotional statement made it into her book.

16 thoughts on “Best Intentions

  1. I really love reading about writing through the eyes of a pre-schooler. It’s cute how she drew the big smiles on each face! I also liked reading how you tried to model it for her and did the rehearsing…thanks for sharing her writing process. It’s cute how she wanted your attention!

  2. I still have trouble with drawing bikes … it has to do with angles and perspectives, and where the hands would go and the feet, and half the body on one side and the other on the other side …

  3. Wow! I think she was amazing1 The drawings have detail – and it is hard to draw a bike! It is so sweet that Isabelle wanted you all to herself – so much love in your family – I love listening to these stories and exchanges. They are uplifting!

  4. Awww…so sweet! My boys are past the preschool stage and while each stage is fun in it’s own right the innocence of those first few years of school is precious!

  5. I love her enthusiasm for writing! I am in a book study with our preschool teacher, and we are reading Engaging Young Writers by Matt Glover. Today, the topic of telling the story across pages came up, and we had a discussion about how that could look and whether or not it’s effective. Looks like it was…I’ll have to share that with her! 😉

  6. It’s a big deal to have Mom in the classroom, and another one to tell about a new bike. She did great. It’s fun to see the pictures. FYI-I know that Sarah in earlier years drew some pictures for Ingrid to look at before she drew. It’s a good idea, simpler than looking at the details of a photo. Fun to see, Stacey.

  7. Oh I love this. I could not gotten my sons interested in the writing of their own stories to save my life at that age. They were definitely more of the act it out types. You are amazing. For someone who “can’t draw” Isabel did a wonderful job in telling her story.

  8. The illustrations are priceless! It’s wonderful that she looks forward to writing with you at school and wants her own personal writing coach! It won’t be long before she’s writing about riding without those training wheels!

  9. How wonderful that she wants to write and did not want you to miss a day a school. Clearly writing is important to her even if it is hard! Great job! I don’t think I could draw a bike – I am impressed!

  10. I think she’s a genius! She draws people better than I can. And I emphathize with her because drawing the bike would be difficult for me too, and I have no idea what details I would draw to make it look like I was riding the bike around the store either! I love her ending emotional statement. I feeled happy about it 😉

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