I have attended quite a few professional development conferences and lectures recently where the subject of idea generation has come up with regard to young writers. I know in upper elementary it is quite common to have idea lists, and this is the suggestion that I usually receive. However, with kids that are JUST learning to write, and may even be using squiggles or random letter strings early in the kindergarten year, it is simply not practical to ask them to make an idea list. So here is my solution – the inspiration page:
This is one of my first homework assignments of the year. I ask parents to help their child create an inspiration page with their child. I send home a piece of card stock. They are to cover both sides of the card stock with as many pictures as possible. I ask them to include pictures of things their child loves, has done, and knows a lot about. They should put pictures of special family events, vacations, or memorable experiences.
I laminate these pages, and they are kept inside each child’s writing folder. So, each day they have a reference tool to use if they are struggling to come up with something to write about. Perhaps even better than that, I can use it as a tool to learn about my students. I may not know that they were once a flower girl, or that they took a vacation to a water park, or that they have three dogs. However, I can glance at their inspiration page when I begin a conference, and I can easily help students to develop ideas to write about.
I hope this can help others. Enjoy!