“Reading and writing are skills that go hand in hand.” -kidsreadnow.org
And yet, if your kids are like mine, they’d much rather read than write. But I’m on a mission to get my kids writing this summer by inspiring them and making it FUN!
To start with, I set up an Author Center with all sorts of supplies that they can’t wait to use.
It doesn’t have to be fancy! This summer, we moved our Author Center to an antique desk, but in the past we’ve used everything from a table with plastic tubs to a completely portable caddy for supplies. Having everything they need to create in one place removes obstacles to writing (“Where’s my notebook? Do we have any colored pencils?”), and makes writing a recognized activity choice in your home.
We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite author center supplies to give you some ideas, but you DON’T need a huge set of supplies - just use the list for inspiration! Look around your house to see what you have already (old scrapbooking supplies, anyone? They’re perfect to repurpose for this!), and choose a few special items to add to your collection over time.
You can get our detailed Author Center idea list here, but here are few of our favorite supplies I don’t want you to miss:
1) Blank books Every author wants to know that her writing is going to be seen by someone - not wadded up in the bottom of a backpack. Not writing project will end up as a book, but having blank books available communicates a respect for your young author’s efforts. Plus, they’re FUN to collect over time and read together!
You can purchase blank books, (barebooks.com is a source we like), but we really like to make them ourselves. See our directions for making a step book here, and a teeny-tiny accordion book here. A uniquely formatted book can be inspirational - have fun brainstorming the different ways you could use it! One of those ideas will capture your kids’ imagination!
2) Alphabet stamps Stamps make everything more exciting! They’re not great for writing large amounts of text, but they’re great for titles or highlighting key words in text. Plus, they can be fun for beginning readers to use for practicing sight words!
3) Stamp pad Obviously you’ll need a stamp pad for your alphabet stamps, but it's also key for making fingerprint illustrations, a great technique for authors who are less confident about their illustration skills. If you’ve never checked out one of Ed Emberley’s terrific drawing books, I highly recommend them! (They’re actually on our Author Center supply list, too!)
4) Markers or other favorite art supply The illustrations make the picture book, so be sure to stock art supplies that will make illustrating their books fun. Don’t forget to look to your favorite books to inspire new art techniques. If your family loves Eric Carle, paint some beautiful tissue papers to use in collage. Is Emily Gravett your favorite? You'll want to make sure you have watercolors to use.
That’s exactly what we did in our Last Stop on Market Street Book Box; we looked at the Christian Robinson’s distinctive illustration style and used that to inspire a book about our own neighborhood. Be on the lookout for artistic inspiration as you’re reading together!
5) Brads and a hole punch Yes, brads are a classic binding material, but they’re also great for adding moveable parts within your project. Add a turning wheel to a card to reveal a secret message or illustrations, make a person with an arm that waves…just think of the possibilities!
If you haven’t downloaded your Author Center Supply List yet, do that here, and then go discover the supplies that get your own creative juices flowing!
We’ll be back soon with more ideas to get your kids reading AND writing this summer!