Are You Ready to Write a Novel?
Y'all! We're doing it again! National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)'s Young Writer's Program is just around the corner! We had a blast trying this out last year. HG told us some sweet stories about Purple Bunny chewing gum, riding brooms, and going on play-dates. This year, our lives have all looked drastically different, and from there, I bet our kiddos have some interesting stories to share! Whether they are young and their imaginations have bloomed as they've been stuck at home more, or they're older and have imagined all kinds of spooky dystopic outcomes to this year, or they can't wait to share their stories from pandemic life, I am so grateful that NaNoWriMo has created a way to invite ALL kiddos and adults to write. I love extending that invitation to even our youngest writers. If you're thinking, "WHY are you "writing" "novels" with your three year old?", I'll share some of what I wrote in last year's NaNoWriMo blog post below. But first, here are my tips for getting excited about writing:
Talk like writers about stories you read. Notice what makes the characters special. Point out the different places the characters go to. Imagine how a story would be different if it took place somewhere else. What if they thought they were going to the beach and ended up at the doctor's office? What problems do the characters face and how do they overcome them? Say something like, "At the beginning of the story Trixie couldn't talk. In the middle, she was scared because Knuffle Bunny was gone. At the end, Trixie and her family were happy and Trixie said her first word!" after reading Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Willems."
Watch what characters they act like or toys they play with frequently. Ask if they'd like to tell a story about that character.
Use a scene of play as the start of a story. Either write what your kiddo says or take pictures. Print the pictures and ask your kiddo to tell you what they were doing.
Focus on the drawings!! Anywhere where I've written "write", know it means however your kiddo puts marks on paper - whether they're under a year and you're writing down what they play with, whether they are twoish and scribbling picture shapes and word shapes and kind of telling you what the represent, or if they are writing scribble words, it all counts. Ask your kiddo to draw and then ask what the drawing shows. Write this down, read it back, take any edits, repeat :). What is FASCINATING is when kiddos start to tell the same story to different people rather than a different story each time they talk about their work :). Look out for that!
Give a kid a notebook and say, "Will you write me a story like ______ (insert favorite book and author)?" and see what unfolds! HG loves walking around with a pen and notebook in hand doing little scribble words.
Once your story gets started and you know your kiddo's character, ask about this character throughout the day as if they were a friend. Maybe you're walking the dog and ask, "Do you think Purple Bunny has a pet? Would she have a dog?". Maybe you're at dinner and while everyone shares about their day, you ask what the Magic Queen did all day. Then, before bed, jot down those stories you heard. Read them back to your kiddo and see what they add on.
Create a writing nook or corner of the kitchen table with all the supplies you need.
Bring a small notebook everywhere you go. If your kiddo/s are anything like the ones I work (and live) with, you'll never stop being surprised at what connects to their story or triggers a new character to come alive :). The car is a great time to chat about characters and stories! If the stories really start flowing, if someone in the car can safely record the story as a voice memo that might help!
Slow is fine. It doesn't matter if your kiddo's novel is 20 words long at the end of the month :). Simply scribble together, talk together, and read together :).
Have a very little baby and want to do this? Try letting your kiddo put marks on paper in any way you feel is safe (we liked to smear washable marker dots with water on our fingers :). Then, you get to imagine what the picture is of :). Think of this as a warm up for all the wild stories headed your way when your kiddo starts talking :).
So, hand your kiddo a notebook or create one together. Ask, "What story do you want to share with... (your friends, mommy, grandma, the world!, your teacher... any audience that might get your kiddo hooked!)?" anddddd if the kiddos in your life bite, I'd love for your family to join me in my NaNoWriMo classroom! Here's how!
Head over to NaNoWriMo's Young Writers' Program site here.
Sign up and use this code: LTDGYHKZ. A dialogue box will ask if "Blooming Writers" is your group, that's me!
Finish making the kiddos' in your life their accounts. You'll want one for each kiddo and will need different emails for each... that's the clunky part. If you need work-arounds, let me know.
Once you're in, you'll see a box on the left side of your dashboard that says, "Accept Challenge". Select, "Yes, I accept" and you can name your novel, choose a word count goal, and more! I suggest choosing that you'll manually enter word count - OR you can type the story your kiddo's share with you. Trying to determine your word count goal? Here are some tips: For pre-writers (roughly ages 2-5), ask your kiddos to draw or tell a story. Write the story the share. Count the words. Multiply that by 15-20 (however many days you'd like to invite your kiddo to write in November), and that's your goal! HG told me a story that was 80 words long. That took A LOT of focus, so I cut that in half, multiplied that by 30 (we are going to *try* to write every day), and got 1200 for our goal. For beginning writers (roughly ages 4-7), ask your kiddo to write/scribble a story. Count their words (ask what a scribble or invented word means as needed). Multiply, there you go! For confident writers (roughly ages 6+), ask them to write for 10 minutes, multiply, and there's your goal!
Looking for ideas? I will share weekly challenges, tips, and ideas in the NaNoWriMo classroom. November's Month in Moments calendar will also have daily ideas to help the kiddos in your life craft a story. Want more support? Join me in the Bloom Classroom's Google Classroom where I post weekly learning challenges, story time yoga, and more! This will be a fun way to share stories, boost community and learn together! DM me (on IG @watchwonderbloom) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you'd like some details about that.
FINALLY! If you'd like some writerly swag, I have a few stickers from NaNoWriMo that HG and I would love to share! Shoot me an email (email@example.com) with your address if you'd like some writerly awesomeness. And, I'll be posting pics of our class's story progress poster throughout the month of November. I will use novel names or initials to protect the privacy of our authors. If I know your IG handle, I'll tag you :). Follow along at @watchwonderbloom.
And now, as promised, why I write with my already ready little writers (from last year's post here):
Why on Earth are we writing novels with toddlers?
I value an "already ready" approach to reading, writing, and all learning. Old school ideas led us to believe that children were blank slates. Over time, we've realized just how incorrect that assumption was. Children are sponges, they take in everything and they bring so many rich experiences to the table. They are immensely capable, especially so when we give them the space, tools, and inspiration to have at it. They've already got stories to tell! Listen to any baby who has figured out how to make sounds or any toddler beginning to figure out words or any school age kiddo - they've got lots to share :). Young kiddos are very much still forming their identities. The more opportunities we give children to play at reading, writing, math, science, art, civic engagement, sports, etc. the more fully they can imagine themselves doing those things later and the more likely they are to think: "I'm a writer"; "I'm a kind friend"; "I'm a voter"; "I'm good at solving tough problems", etc. So, if you simplified all of the ideas from this month's calendar, you'd get to the root invitation to write together. Scribble, draw, tell, act out, and write stories together. You may do all the writing. Each day might be about a different story or cast of characters entirely. One week, your kiddo might just scribble and you add on words all on one day the next week. Anything goes. Let your kiddos see you writing their very valuable words. Let them write in whatever way the can :).
I also LOVE writing with little ones because it is so interactive. We have to get down on their level, sit or snuggle together, pull out our favorite writing supplies, and chat. It's such a lovely way to connect and boost literacy skills all at the same time :). And, the pride on a kiddo's face when they finish their story or share their work with a loved one is simply so joyful. It is a lovely reminder of just how skilled every kiddo is.
What does writing look and sound like with little ones?
Last year in Story Time Yoga we had a blast using A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka, a beautifully expressive story with no words. Each little learner got one page of the story to to tell based on the pictures. Planning this lesson reminded me of general patterns we can observe in pre-writing skills. You can see a document of pre-writing stages and examples here.
As for what this sounds like, you can see a conversation about writing a story between HG and I in the calendar :). With one of our older friends, they often draw and use a blend of scribble writing, mock letters, and random strings of letters (moving more and more toward random strings of letters). Then, when the drawing is complete, I listen as our friend dictates the story, and I write... soooo fast because kiddos are FAST story tellers :).
(To the left you can see pics from writing with HG last year and this year. One cool thing is that Purple Bunny is still the main character in her stories! >>>)
I hope you and the kiddos in your life will write alongside us this November! We love writing and story telling together as a way to slow down, snuggle, boost skills, and talk about big things, and to notice tiny important moments :). Share your writing, ideas, and progress by tagging me (@watchwonderbloom) on IG. Have requests for November's Month in Moments to help the kiddos in your life tell awesome stories? Shoot me a DM or email (firstname.lastname@example.org)!