In Tip #7, I mentioned the importance of putting books in spaces wherever kids might want to read if we want summer reading to happen. Since reading and writing skills go hand in hand, it is also important to encourage writing over the summer (see last summer’s tip #13). And the same rule about access goes for writing — Kids also need easy access to writing and art materials if we want them to write and create. Kids are more likely to respond to books in a written manner if materials for doing so are in places where kids are reading. Where kids are reading, you might put a basket with paper, pencils and crayons, sticky notes, index cards, blank bookmarks, and envelopes with stationary. Reading might even inspire kids to write a sequel or their own version of a story, which is more likely to actually happen if kids have materials that are visible for creating books such as scissors, hole punchers, rings, and staplers. Accessible and visible materials for writing also make everyday kinds of purposeful writing more likely to occur, such as writing to-do lists, making dinner menus for a special meal, and writing rules or making signs during play. Likewise, kids are much more likely to create (and even maybe connect their creations to books) if materials for creating are also accessible and visible, not stored in cabinets to be taken out at “craft time”. The demands of school and homework and activities during the school year often leave little time for creative open-ended experiences, so take advantage of summer and make writing/creating an obvious choice! Make access easy!!
In Our Family… Ever since my kids were toddlers, we’ve had writing and art materials accessible and visible for kids’ use all of the time. I truly believe this is part of what has made them so passionate about writing and creating — it is something they all have chosen to do almost every day of their lives for the past 5, 7, and 8 years! In our playroom, we have art supplies at the art table as well as tools and materials for writing at the desk. We also have supplies in almost every other room where kids hang out — including the office (in an old-fashioned school desk obtained from a second-hand store), my bedroom (in lap desks), in an art caddy in the family room, and in a kitchen drawer (which has led to lots of writing/drawing before/after meals). Here’s a fantastic idea for art supplies that I stole from a friend: a “Lazy Susan Art Caddy”. All you need is the following:
- Lazy susan (12″-20″ works, depending on how big you want it)
- Round serving tray
- Containers that you have around the house, such as mason jars, small buckets, and mugs.
Place the serving tray on top of the Lazy Susan, and have fun adding your containers and supplies. And there you have it! I have included a picture of our art caddy. My kids love this, and it is easy (for an adult) to transport to another room or even outside!