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Preschool Writing:

A Wish in a Bottle of Sand


Today's Snack: Crush some vanilla wafers in a bowl. Stir in a handful of gummi candy. Using a spoon, "dig out" the candy and eat the cookie crumbs! Usually, you shouldn't eat "sand" - but this time, you can. Enjoy a cup of milk to go with.






One clean, dry, empty water bottle (8 oz. size or slightly larger) with lid


Small quantity of clean, dry playground sand


1" strip of paper | Pen or pencil


Small seashells or other beach-related trinkets


One sheet of writing paper or your writing notebook



Can't wait 'til summer? Neither can anybody! So if it's spring, fall or winter and you can't go to the beach to swim, at least you can bring to beach to you!


Even though it doesn't seem as though a preschool child is capable of the higher-order thinking skills that it takes to imagine things and make meaningful wishes, you'd be surprised what young children come up with when they do this activity.


Simply put, they are going to make up a wish, put it in a bottle, and imagine how that wish will someday come true.


There's something special and dramatic about a bottle and a beach. People stranded on deserted islands sometimes write their "HELP!" messages and put them in a bottle, then launch it out into the ocean, hoping a passing ship will spot it and rescue them.


But for our purposes, we're going to pack a little beach sand into a bottle and KEEP it - relying on our own imaginations to "rescue" us and grant us some kind of a wish.


First, have the child think of a wish. What's something that you wish would happen? It only needs to be a few words or a sentence. It can be as wild and crazy, or as straightforward and everyday, as the child . . . well . . . wishes.


Write the wish on a slip of paper for the child, and roll it up into a tiny roll or ball. Ham it up a little bit; kids get extremely excited at this stage of the game.


Now show the child how to pour a little sand into the empty bottle. Drop a few seashells in, followed by more sand. Drop in the wadded-up wish. Then add more sand, more shells, and whatever you'd like, 'til the sand is an inch or two beneath the top.


That extra space will allow the child to shake the bottle around and see what you packed in it, from time to time.


Now let your imagination run wild! On the sheet of paper or in your Story Notebook (a spiral notebook to collect all of the child's fun and spontaneous stories), with an adult's help, tell a story that reveals how you got your wish! It may, or may not, have something to do with the bottle. That's up to the child!


The adult can ask, and the child can supply, the things to be written down. So take dictation as the child invents the story. Make sure you:


n      title it

n      put the child's name on it

n      show the child how you indent paragraphs the width of two fingers

n      have a beginning, middle and an end

n      tell us HOW your wish came true

n      tell us how you feel about having your wish come true and how it will help you and others!


When you're happy with your story, fold it up into one long strip, and tape it around your wish bottle. If your wish really does come true, you can open up the story and compare your imagination with real life!


By Susan Darst Williams Writing 2010


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