The children love to write letters and "mail" them to friends. They especially love receiving their own letters during "Mail Call". Since we remind them that the way to get a letter is to send one, the Writing Area is the center of much daily activity.
We pay close attention to what is happening in this area and, if interest seems to be waning, we add something new to the center: seasonal stickers, alphabet stamps, colorful paper, etc. to keep the momentum going.
It has been especially wonderful to see the interaction between children as they help each other with writing letters and spelling words like "to", "from" and "love". The power of peer support and modeling is invaluable! Their interest in sending letters often also provides the ideal place for the teachers to step in and give instruction, the "teachable moment".
Enticing children to want to learn to read and write, obviously also includes helping them to see the purpose for writing. Examples of this happen everywhere in the classroom:
Following a written recipe for cooking
Remembering something by writing it down (like the note we wrote for this child to remind her that she wanted to write a letter on the next school day)
Having them dictate and illustrate a journal page to add to their notebooks
Using the flannel-board to retell a story read during Group Time
Practicing writing their name for our Sign-in cards
Sharing a book with friends
Creating and writing down verses for a song at Group Time
Playing a game with alphabet letters
Sharing a book as the start to an activity
Building a block structure and adding it to our Builder's Notebook
As you can see, the examples could go on and on! It may require a different way of seeing, but with a little practice you can discern that the nurturing of literacy takes place everywhere in a busy preschool classroom.