Inspiring children to read and write with family histories

by Mary Ann on February 23, 2011

girl reading on bed pictures

Inspire a desire to read and write with something interesting to read and write about

I am frequently asked “what can I put in the Spark Station to inspire my children to read and write.” Why not start with some family history. One of the families I worked with did just that.

Annette is a great scrap booker and her intention was to create a masterpiece for each of her children. I talked her into letting them create their own scrapbook.

So she sorted all the school papers, birthday cards, vacation pictures, etc. that she had been saving in boxes for her three children. She put the individual boxes in her Spark Station along with some scrapbooks, glue, photo sleeves, etc.

Her two older children were delighted. They spent a full structured family learning time sharing what was in their boxes, telling each other stories and asking their mom lots of questions. They loved it. Then they worked on their own books for a good long time. Family history is a great way to help your children have some reading and writing practice.

making scrap book pictures

Cedar and Tannin working on their scrapbooks

*Begin with their own immediate lives. Let them fashion their own history books from their own personal and shared family experiences. They can write stories about school, vacations and events. They can label all the pictures and mementoes.

*Another good project is to have your children compile your family photo album. Children can work together to separate photos into years or events. You will find that on different days, different children will want to do the job of sorting, putting into the album and labeling the pictures.

*Small children who do not read and write yet will also love this activity for short amounts of time. It may be wise to have your pictures sorted. As you talk about each picture with your younger children let them secure it into the book. You can write out very simple labels which they can then copy into the book.

Let me share something with you to help all you perfection prone parents. I made scrap books for all of my children. Fortunately it was before scrapbooking was a hobby or I might have spent countless hours and a small fortune to make them perfect. I am glad that I didn’t because over the years they have been somewhat manhandled and dismantled as children have needed different things for school, church and other events, as well as just plain enjoying the contents over and over.

I did however do a very nice job. There is no childish writing wiggly crookedly across any pages. It is all legible; and it is boring. In my own personal box of saved treasures what matters most are the cards, letters, and crafts that have misspelled names and illegible I love yous on them. Right now you just want to have your kids make progress. You want them to read well and write well. You want the scrapbooks to be nice.

childs writng pictures

You will want to recall vividly these learning days.

I promise you that years from now they will read well and write well too and what you will want to see is a scrapbook made by a child filled with childish thoughts and imperfect writing. You will want to recall vividly these learning days.

So put some family history in your Spark Station and let your children relive and enjoy the history of their own lives.

P.S. After making the scrapbooks for our children many years passed and we collected more school papers, ribbons and other treasures. Now they are all grown and in their late 20’s to 40’s. Wow. For Christmas we bought seven beautiful, decorative boxes and filled each one with all these collected treasures.

You cannot imagine the joy  that these simple and inexpensive gifts brought to our adult children. There was so much ohhing and awing going on. “Mom, I can’t believe you saved this.” “Mom, do you remember this?” “Dad, I can’t believe we ever went there.” It was amazing and so much fun. No one ever grows too old and you are never too young to appreciate the past and the life you are living.

Tomorrow I will share some tips on helping your children have strong family history ties to their grandparents.

In the meantime here are some tips on children working together.

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