reading and writing, Kindergarten, invented spelling, making book crafts for kids

Connecting Reading with Writing in Kindergarten

Reading and Writing in Kindergarten

I am thrilled to be joining Share a Story, Shape a Future 2013 blog tour with other great literacy, children’s book and education bloggers!

  • Monday (Infants): Maria Burel at Once Upon A Story.
  • Tuesday (Toddlers): Carol Rasco at Quietly
  • Wednesday (pre-Preschool): Debbie Alvarez at The Styling Librarian
  • Thursday (Preschool): Tif at Tif Talks Books
  • Friday (Kindergarten): Terry at Family Bookshelf

My contribution is the connection between reading independently and writing for Kindergarteners … more specifically the idea of invented spelling as a necessary step that marries writing with reading.

Share a Story, Shape a Future, literacy, Kindergarten reading and writing

The Importance of Invented Spelling: The Writing Connection to Reading!

We had the most amazing Kindergarten teacher — Ms. C —  for all three of my kids. As rookie parents, she held our hand and guided us gently through the academic rigors of Kindergarten. Seriously, Kindergarten is the new First Grade. Ms. C’s goal was and is to get the kids reading by the end of Kindergarten.

She stressed the importance of writing as an important literacy step towards reading independently. In fact, invented spelling — you know that fabulous and funny spelling kids use when they first start sounding out words — is CRITICAL to teaching kids how to read independently.

“Froshus dobrmn pensr” is an example of invented spelling. What do you think the child is trying to communicate? Yes, ferocious Doberman Pinscher!

Listening to how words break up into pieces is  a key element. She stressed letting your child sound out words that he or she wants to spell without assistance! Hearing the syllables is an important step as well as deciphering the consonant and vowel sounds. Yes, the misspelled words will look weird but that’s not the point. Think of it as learning to draw the figure. The first drawings will certainly not be anatomically correct!

The advantages of Invented Spelling are numerous and empowering!

  • Independence.  An inventive speller doesn’t have to ask for the correct spelling of every word he doesn’t know.
  • Fluent and powerful writing. Children can elaborate their stories and play on paper without interruptions to look up correct spellings.
  • Efficient instruction. To write “sun,” the beginner may say, “Sun.  Sssssuuuunnn, ssss, ssss,” and write a S.  Then, “Sunnnn, sunnn, nnn, nnn,” and he writes N, SN for sun. A teacher need not be consulted.
  • Early control and responsibility. Children learn to take risks.  The worst outcome of an unsuccessful invention is that communication stops temporarily.  But if the invention succeeds, their message will reach its audience.  Real rewards await the child who writes fearlessly about a FROSHUS DOBRMN PENSR instead of a BAD DOG. from Susan Sowers, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Create Your Own Book Crafts for Kids

Now that your child is fearlessly spelling away, it’s time for your child to write … for fun! Here are some ideas for creating your own book crafts that my kids have done over the years. If your child gets tired or frustrated writing out the entire story, take turns.

Staple paper or notecards to create a book that your child can write and illustrate.


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Try using index cards paired with stickers as the basis for a book.

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Rip out coloring book pages and tben staple to use as the illustrations for a story.

coloring book, writing story using coloring book, kids and writing, Kindergarten writing, reading in Kindergarten, how to get kids to read and writePower Rangers coloring book turned into story, kids and writing, writing and reading connection

Make a Fold-In Square book.

Making a Paper Strips Book

Cut two rectangle pieces of paper, both the same size. Criss cross them in to the shape of a cross. Glue the middle squares together. When the glue dries, fold the page flaps down. image from Artists Helping Children

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Write a story for a wordless picture book. You can write in the book if the book owner is ok with that, or write on Post It notes on each page.

My daughter wrote out part of the first page of her story for wordless picture book Wave by Suzy Lee. She dictated to me and I wrote the rest of the story for her.

wordless picture books, writing story for wordless picture bookWave, Suzy Lee, writing story for wordless picture book

My daughter also made a book using a book kit that was gifted to her.

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make book kit

It was a bound blank book kit like this one.

Imagination Soup has a great and easy way to make a book with a paper clip and rubber band! How cool is that?!!

DIY book for kids, make your own book

Most of all, creating a book should be fun! Let your child experience the joy of being an author! It’s a gift that will keep on giving! And treasure this invented spelling phase. It passes all too quickly!

reading and writing, Kindergarten, invented spelling, making book crafts for kids

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. What a fantastic post! Thank you and I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s all about helping children make their own connections. I just had a parents evening at school and my daughter’s class teacher echoed my belief that if a child’s reading is good then everything else will follow.

    • Thanks so much Redpeffer! I always have to resist the urge to correct spelling during the invented spelling phase but, on the other hand, it’s a wonderful phase that doesn’t last very long! I didn’t realize how much writing and reading are connected through invented spelling.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Education Search Engine: Noodle.orgMy Profile

  2. Many schools are using a reading/writing workshop model using inventive spelling from kindergarten right up into the primary grades. For many children the crossover is effortless. There are still those children who are perfectionists and experience frustration if they feel their artistic and writing results are not what they expected them to be.

  3. Great post, Mia! I like making books with my kids and we will have to try the fold-in-a-square idea.

  4. This is such an important subject. I think Kindergarten is the most important year for reading and writing. Everything else can come afterwards, but these 2 R’s are critical for the child at this stage. Thanks for sharing this post Mia.
    Reshama recently posted…Custard and CompanyMy Profile

    • Thanks Rashama,
      I do think that Kindergarten is the new First Grade since there is so much pressure to get kids reading independently by the time they leave Kindergarten. That’s a lot of pressure on the teacher! Reading and writing can be reinforced at home and these activities can be fun and stress free.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Education Search Engine: Noodle.orgMy Profile

  5. I LOVE this piece. Both my boys love to invent, and LOVE to read. The independence point is so HUGE. I was worried when the first invented all his words, and now he is three years above grade level in reading. I’ll be sharing this post with my son’s classmates’ parents. LOVE IT.
    catherine recently posted…At age 16 you will…My Profile

  6. This is a super post. The hardest part of Kindergarten was NOT correcting our daughter’s invented spelling. We grew up in a time when you had to spell it right … this makes so much more sense!

    Every year for my daughter’s birthday I write a letter (that I’m saving til she’s 21!) And every year I include a section of “Catherinisms” – words or phrases she’s made up to name or describe something. Even at 11, she’s still coming up with creative ways to express objects and ideas. Those words are priceless to us.
    Terry Doherty recently posted…Literacy + Kindergarten = From ABCs to Reading WordsMy Profile

    • Hi Terry,
      What a wonderful tradition to write your daughter a letter for her birthday with her Catherinisms — I’m sure she will treasure that forever. If you don’t write them down, I’m realizing, it’s so easy to forget these wonderful phases of what kids say and do. I’m trying to capture it via blogging but it’s not easy!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Education Search Engine: Noodle.orgMy Profile

  7. I am a huge proponent of invented spelling- both my for my own children and all the kids I have worked with professionally. It is truly a developmental stage and an important one!
    Stacey recently posted…The Paradox of Our AgeMy Profile

  8. There’s so much written about reading at home with kids, but many parents aren’t aware of how important it is for us to write with kids, in front of kids, and encourage writing at home too. There are some great ideas here Mia, and I love the emphasis on invented spelling!
    Susan recently posted…Reading: It’s Not Just BooksMy Profile

    • Thanks Susan,
      My wonderful Kindergarten teacher taught all the parents in her class about this, knowing that we’d likely jump in and try to correct our kids. I had her 3 times and each time, it’s a good reminder. I’m hoping that kids will also write more at home but in a fun way that feels like play and not homework.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Education Search Engine: Noodle.orgMy Profile

  9. Jeanette Nyberg

    It’s so fun and absolutely exciting when kids start on the path to try to spell. I think having special little handmade books around can be a great impetus for kids to want to write things out in their very own books!
    Jeanette Nyberg recently posted…Microwave Puffy PaintMy Profile

  10. Awesome post Mia, my wife is already trying fold-in-a-square with our little ones.
    Viren recently posted…Email Marketing Design Tips That Will Enhance Your EmailMy Profile

  11. Ann

    I still use creative spelling, hahaha! Seriously, thank you spell check although it doesn’t always save me! I love these book ideas too my favorite it the fold out one – I think my son might like making a book like this!
    Ann recently posted…Pot of Gold CraftMy Profile

    • Hi Ann,
      My kids were making tons of the fold-out little books when they first learned to make them. They’re fun! And I just found a book that my oldest made while searching for something else. It was a bound blank book meant to be turned into a “published” book. I had forgotten about it. I added that to the post. She did it with her arty friend and it turned out so beautifully!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Pi Day!My Profile

  12. Wonderful post. OF COURSE creating your own spelling is a step in learning literacy. I still treasure a book made by my daughter (now 33) with very inventive spelling, and illustrations. She even had her own “Abot the ather” section, with a self-portrait. I’ll experiment with the square fold-in book. Looks fun!
    Susan Call Hutchison ( recently posted…Legend of the LeprechaunMy Profile

    • Hi Susan,
      I love your daughter’s Abot the ather section! I didn’t realize that invented spelling was such an important and necessary phase but it sounds like you are well informed on literacy. What fun to save her books from that time. I’m sure she treasures it now to see her work! Her kids must get a kick out of it as well!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Let’s Go Fly a Kite!My Profile

  13. I was interested to read about invented spelling. I bet it makes for more exciting stories.
    Erica Price recently posted…Year 1 Phonics Screening CheckMy Profile

  14. Invented spelling sounds really fun for the kids. Way to develop their vocabulary.
    Shaun Hoobler recently posted…recipe secrets couponMy Profile

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