Activity: Love notes from a preschooler

Reading and writing are interconnected. If parents read to children from a young age, it doesn’t take long for children  to work out that the stories come from the letters and words printed on the page.

Similarly, children learn about writing based on the writing they see around them. For example, they see parents writing letters, lists, notes and labels.

Before children have even learnt to write the letters of the alphabet, they already have an idea about print and its purpose. They quickly learn that words are symbols that convey a message.

By replacing words with symbols, Cam has been involved in letter writing and using shopping lists for some time.

By strategically leaving some enticing post-it notes and writing tools on her activity table, I encouraged Cam to experiment with her own writing.

It didn’t take Cam long to begin role-play writing. Once she started, we couldn’t stop her:

As she wrote,  she verbalised the message she was recording. We received some heart-warming love notes as a result. These are some of her messages:

She even signed her name on the back of this note:

We keep finding love notes all over the house: On our computers, oven, microwave, fridge………..


Now, if Cam finds a pen and a suitable writing surface we can’t stop her from writing.


Role-play (or pretend) writing is an important step in a child’s writing, and overall literacy, development. It gives a child the chance to:

  • Experiment with random marks and scribbles on paper
  • Develop an understanding that her symbols contain a message
  • Practise communicating a message
  • Organise her marks from left to right
  • Use some letters she knows

Before you know it, a child will be writing everywhere if given the opportunity.

It is never too early to encourage your child to write. If they can hold a pencil/crayon, then they can imitate your writing behaviours.

Activity: Love notes from a preschooler

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  1. I love love love this stage of development. When children realise that symbols contain a message. I am so going to do this with Thomas. He is always looking for different ways to show us how much he loves us and this is a perfect way to encourage him to ‘write’ more – something he is reluctant to do :-). Thank you for sharing!

    • Yes, there is something about post-it notes that are fascinating- especially novelty-shaped ones. And, they allow for small messages- nothing overwhelming. Hope Thomas enjoys it.

  2. How sweet are all of those notes? What a lovely thing to find all over the house. These are such wonderful ideas for encouraging Cam to write. I think I’ll try the shopping list idea.

    • Let me know how you go with the shopping list. It’s a great way to get kids involved at the supermarket.

  3. Liz said: On August 28, 2012

    Love, love, love this!! We encourage writing here in everything from our individual “journals” to our mini post office writing station. I did not even think about post it notes though, how perfect! Picking some up today and looking forward to all of the notes I know will be left all over the Clubhouse :) I like the picture shopping list too, may just have to incorporate that with my Son who always gets bored at the grocery store, thanks for sharing! I’m linking this on our FB page!

    • The post-it notes really are great. They allow kids to write small notes. The Post Office Station sounds great too. :)

  4. Just wanted to let you know we started our post it notes last night. Daddy has gone away for a few days so we left some notes over his bag for him to find while he is away :-). Thomas loved doing it and I know Daddy will love finding them!

    • Peta, that is so sweet. This activity is much more than a writing task isn’t it? It’s about making people feel loved! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Funny you say that Jackie, I was trying to say that in the post but couldn’t put it into words :-).

  6. What gorgeous little notes she is writing! We have some similar ones about our place too – they do love the sticky notes :-) And I love your idea of making lists with pictures so they can help with the shopping. My son would love to use a list like this – pinning to try!!

  7. I love this post and think it’s a great idea. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. There are so many learning experiences in this one idea – such a great way of teaching that writing has a purpose, and also a great way to build confidence in writing. So much of learning comes from experimenting and feeling confident enough to have a go, and that’s the real foundations of this simple and fun activity.

    • Thanks Suz. There is a lot to be gained from this activity. As another reader pointed out, it’s also a feel-good task.

  8. Too cute :) I once washed the dishes and returned to the lounge to find Pebble covered in star sticky notes LOL

  9. There is just something about sticky notes that kids love (and us adults too). We have been through many, many sticky notes over the past few years, one I remember was where my daughter made them into windows on a picture of a house and you lifted the flap of the sticky note to see who was behind it.
    This is such a beautiful activity, Jackie….. love it!! You have reminded me about the fun that can be had with sticky notes.

    • Santa actually popped some sticky-notes in Cam’s sack last year too. We’ve made lift the flap books with sticky notes, but the house idea is a wonderful one. Will borrow it.

  10. I just love her little notes! And the clipboard in the store- so great!

    • Thanks Stephanie. When Cam takes a clipboard and shopping list with us to the supermarket, the roles are reversed and I am the one begging her to leave. He he!

  11. A few years ago, a fellow my husband worked had a daughter that he named Sophie, the same name we’d used for our younger daughter. Our older girl, Clare, decided she had to write them a letter because every family needed a ‘Sophie’. I wrote a translation to go with it for the new parents and they treasured it.

    I love the start of their journeys.

    I also wish that Cam was a little older than my girls so they could have had her adventures!

    • There is definitely something special about a child’s early writing that adults love to treasure. Thanks for sharing your sweet story.

      I think that is the way of the world. We always come across great ideas a little too late. I’m certain in 10 years I’ll see ideas that I wished I’d tried with Cam. Having said that I think you’re providing your girls with some amazing adventures of their own.

  12. This is such a beautiful post Jackie. What a smart little munchkin and what a wonderful Mummy to encourage writing the way you do.

    Miss Possum loves play writing. She once wrote (in play scribble) a whole story on two big notebook pages. I can’t bear to rip them out.

  13. What a wonderful idea! So empowering to children as well. I love it. I still have some of the sweet notes that my oldest child and I would write back and forth to each other when he went to kindergarten. Thank you for letting us share this wonderful post with our Bonbon Break readers this week! Great site!

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