Looking for a way to get your child to do more meaningful, authentic writing at home or school? Maybe you encourage them to write only to be met with cries of, “I hate writing,” or “I don’t know what to write about?”
Try having them create a heart map. It’s fun, easy and something that will be sure to foster ongoing inspiration in them (and you). And if you’re a “artsy/crafty” mom (or dad!) or teacher, even better!
What is a heart map?
I first discovered the heart map in the book, Awakening the Heart in 2003. It changed my teaching and also my view of poetry and writing in general. I highly recommend the book, especially if you are a classroom teacher. A few years ago I even heard the author, Georgia Heard, speak and it was truly one of the most memorable workshops in my teaching career.
A heart map is a visual representation of “all the important things that are in your heart, all the things that really matter to you. You can put: people and places, that you care about; moments and memories that have stayed with you; things that you love to do, anything that has stayed in your heart because you care a lot about it.” (Heard, 1999, page 108).
How do I get started?
Whether you’re doing this at home or at school…
1. Start by creating your own heart map as a model.
Materials needed: construction paper or chart paper for the model, sturdy paper for the child’s heart (consider tracing a heart on a file folder because they are sturdy), colored pencils, crayons, markers, cut-out photographs, tape and other art supplies
(Map of a 2nd grade teacher’s heart)
2. Share your map with your students. Discuss why you put each person, memory, etc., in your heart. Illustrate the importance of choosing items for the heart that are truly meaningful (i.e. really part of your true heart!). This “thinking aloud” will help the students understand the planning process that you go through as a writer.
3. Have the students plan the components of their hearts. They can sketch our their heart on a separate piece of paper and/or make a list of what to include.
4. Let them get started! Play some quiet music in the background for inspiration, if that moves you. Nutcracker (my daughter’s favorite), classical, jazz. This will help them to relax and let go in the moment.
5. When finished, display the hearts and/or glue to the inside of their writing notebooks or file folders. The students now have an ongoing list of writing ideas to carry them forward for the school year and beyond.
6. And last but not least, encourage them to choose something from their hearts and start writing!
Center Link: If you use literacy centers in your classroom, consider creating a “Write your Heart Out” center or add this as an option to Independent Writing.
Let’s all remember the importance of what’s inside of our hearts and help our students to do the same. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!