My four-year-old I sat down the other day to do some writing, but instead of doing it the usual way (in which he narrates something for me to transcribe), I decided I’d roll out an activity I often do during an author visits at a school or library: Interactive mapping.
Mapping is a fantastic strategy for brainstorming ideas or to simply getting the creative juices flowing. I have many students (especially older ones) who find it hard to sit down and begin the process of writing—they find it hard to turn off all the other things that are pestering them. This sort of activity can serve as a “warm-up” exercise or a transition for the brain. Plus, it’s fun (and shouldn’t creativity be fun?).
For Hiro and I, we started out in one corner of our respective pages, and mapped our characters’ journeys toward treasures in the opposite corner. We created specific problems and obstacles along the way. We both did separate maps, building off our own ideas, though Hiro asked me to swoop in at certain points to do some drawing and labelling for him. (Hiro had an “ice” theme in his adventure—I especially like his “ice monster.”)
As mentioned above, I do this kind of thing with elementary and middle school students all the time, but it was the first time with a preschooler, and it ended up being far more entertaining for him than I would have guessed.