The point of planning pictures

The world has gone mad!
How can people ie educators believe that young writers can just write?
We ask older writers to plan and put in detail so that their writing shows direction, complexity and twists.

If we ask a young writer to just start writing - how can they when they can't write without support?

I was lucky to win 40 days professional leave about three years ago to explore what motivates young writers and how we can improve writing for all young writers. 

I was working for another school at the time and asked the Leadership Team (which I was part of) to trust me and the investment of time I needed to put in place to draw.

I wanted kids to see details in pictures, see emotions in faces, see backgrounds - settings and see story boards. 

I wanted to know that was going to motivate them about putting marks on a piece of paper. 

I read, I googled, I researched, I talked, I argued, I reflected, I procrastinated, I pushed, I worked with many groups of kids, teachers and what I came up with was overwhelming in getting all kids to write.

Step One
Look at picture story books, photos, posters.
What attracts us to these - is it color. background and detail?
Of course it is.....

Step Two
No writing
Draw in grey lead

Step Three
Look at faces
Draw faces, draw playgrounds, draw family, draw stuff in grey lead

Step Four
Add color
Look at use of color, use of dark, light, bright, dull

Step Five
Look at background - where is the picture? where are the people? where is the grass/sky/furniture?

Step Six
Now add starting sounds, sight words

How often have you asked? - What are you writing today? And you got 'I don't know'
A great planning picture stops this - your question changes 'Tell me about your picture' and try ad write the first word, second word, shared pen, modelled writing.

Before you know it they are all writing and loving it. 
The content is much more detailed - just like the pictures. 
The language is much more powerful - the color is powerful.
The setting is included - there is a background.

Step Seven
Draw a planning picture in grey lead
Add colour, detail and background

Step Eight
Excited writers!!!!!!!
Happy teachers.....
Enthusiastic Leadership because everyone is writing......

Win, win, win


  1. Great post Paula! Our littles need to have that visual before and during writing. Crazy world that says those babies should write without pictures.

    Mrs Poultney's Ponderings

  2. I totally agree with your writing ideas. Writing involves so many skills, and that's why it's so difficult. I love all your tips - thanks for sharing!

  3. 100% agree with yo9u, Paula.............for some reason, people have forgotten that writing is a my opinion, if you ask a child NOT to draw a picture, it's just as bad as asking them not to write! (and trust me, some schools don't believe in "Writing" for Kindergarten!)
    Thanks for sharing your super ideas!

  4. Thank you Paula! You have been so helpful. Exactly right :)

    1. We have been revising our current formats and making new templates - exciting work for us


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