SchoolFamily Voices

Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

Use Greeting Cards as Story Starters

Collaborating with colleagues is a great way for professionals to exchange successful ideas. Recently, I met with my college friend, Elaine Scott, who is a retired first grade teacher. Of course we were "talking shop" and she shared a simple technique to encourage reluctant writers that was very successful in her classroom. These ideas can easily be used by parents to encourage writing at home.

  • "Save the fronts of greeting cards," she advised. "You can use them as a springboard for writing." Using these cards provides a topic. (Not to mention you are recycling!)
  • "Have your friends save their cards too. You would be surprised how fast your collection adds up," Elaine continued. "Seasonal cards can be used the next year."
  • Place the card on the top of construction paper with a writing page underneath. Children can then choose what paper they like, and write about what is on the card.
  • "You can also use them to teach parts of speech," Elaine added. For example, by placing the card on top of a paper with three columns underneath labeled noun (naming word,) verb (action word,) and adjective (describing word.)

For some children "getting started" is the hardest part of writing. They don’t know what to write about, and this causes anxiety. Thanks, Elaine for these simple and effective ideas to help young children become good writers!

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#3 Lynn C. 2011-03-08 13:00
I love this!! I actually grabbed 3 Story Starter workbooks for $1/each at The Dollar Store a couple of weeks ago that E loves working on a few days a week. But I love this idea that's right at your fingertips without spending any money at all! Thanks for another great tip!
#2 carol williams 2011-03-07 21:55
I will have fun with this activity!
#1 Martha 2011-03-07 20:32
Again Connie - another great idea that makes so much sense, but that never occurred to me! I can only imagine how much fun my six year old will have with this activity! Thank you.

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