As a teacher and as a parent I know that writing is hard. You have to first know what you want to say, then hear the sounds in a word and lastly match the sounds to a letter. Whew! No wonder kids find it hard. EAL kids need even more support as they rarely are taught the phonics of English and they are thinking in their native language first, then translating, and finally spelling their memorized translated word. That is a lot to do and the more we can encourage authentic, non-worksheet driven writing at home the better.
On a recent visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s house we decided to set up a family pizza parlor. We figured the kids could practice English, writing, math, and responsibility. We started by going through the fridge and cupboards and writing down all of the ingredients we could find. We eventually wrote them in both Danish and English, though this pictured list also has some Swedish environmental print thrown in.
We then went to everyone and asked, “What do you want on your pizza? We have …..” and they would read the list. They had to listen to match the spoken word with the written word in the ingredient list. We made tickets of everyone’s ingredient lists so we could make their pizza correctly and set to work. The kids had to measure out all of the ingredients and though there may have been a few eggshells in the dough, the pizza turned out delicious.
We’re always looking for ways to get them to write and to practice English in a way that makes them think they are playing. We’re thinking of running some other family restaurants so that we can try out other menus and practice more writing. Just beware of letting your kids write restaurant reviews. My daughter wrote a review of tonight’s dinner that I made and while I’m proud of her initiative to write and her sounding out of new words ….. let’s just say my meal only got two stars out of five.