Is there a Writer in the House?

Shopping lists, sign-up sheets, name signs, and more!

  • Target Age: 4-6
  • Skills/Subjects:
    • Creative Expression
    • Fine Motor 
    • Language and Literacy Development
  • Related Episodes:
    • #124: The Old Man
    • #206: Clickety-clack, Clickety-clack!
    • #210: The Last Cliff Hanger


  • Paper
  • Markers
  • Colored pencils or crayons
  • Calendar
  • Stickers


Young children develop interest in print and writing when they see their parents and other adults reading and writing with pleasure and purpose, and when they are invited to participate in a way that is fun and age-appropriate. There is probably a lot of writing going on at your house every day—jotting down phone messages, making shopping lists, sending off emails, writing appointments and notes on calendars or white boards. Here are some ideas for inviting your child to join in.

1. The first thing that most children learn to write is their name, often followed by the names of others in their family. Encourage your young writer to put his/her skill to work, writing names on lunch bags and making decorated name signs for bedroom doors.

2. When you are drawing up a shopping list, an older child can write items he or she particularly likes on your list. Provide younger children with paper and pencil so they can make their own shopping list using drawings, scribbles and made-up letters. At the store, you may want to ask your child to check off the items on your list as you place them in the cart.

3. Let young children mark events on the calendar with pictures or symbols that they can recognize. For example, your child could place a smiley face sticker next to play dates you have jotted down on the calendar or draw a blue circle on the dates on which he or she has swimming class.

Talk about It 

"Writing" can often be a part of play, and you may want to encourage this in a gentle way. For example, if your child is playing restaurant and you are the customer, you might provide a pad and pencil so he or she can "write" down your order. You can help your child make signs on the computer or with letter stamps to announce a play or sports events or to label a parking lot. Seat numbers or prices can be written on tickets.

Related Books

  • Giggle, Giggle, Quack by Doreen Cronin.
  • Patches Lost and Found by Steven Kroll
  • What Do Authors Do? by Ellen Christelow

Wild Kratts Creature Power


Find more activities featuring your child’s favorite PBS KIDS character!