What to do with this activity?
It might be fun for your 3 or 4 year old child to send a secret message using invisible ink. You will need a small bowl, half a lemon, a little water, a piece of white paper, and a cotton bud.
Squeeze the juice out of the half lemon and mix it gently with a few drops of water. Let your child dip the cotton bud into the invisible "ink" and shake off some so that it's not too wet. Then let them do some pretend writing on the paper, or make some real letters or numbers if they can. Let the paper dry.
There is nothing to see because it's still "invisible"! When they are ready to show the secret message, help your child safely hold the paper near a heat source - a radiator perhaps. The message will begin to appear. Find out how this works on Science Kids here. And watch this video from Science Buddies to see another way of making invisible ink.
Why am I doing this?
There are at least four stages in learning to write. The first is movement - your child learning to control their body and their hands - reaching, feeling and holding things - is part of this first stage.
The second stage is making marks - seeing that if you put this crayon here and move it, it makes a mark.
Drawing is a third stage.
The fourth then is learning how to make letters and later words.
For your child, the more they are aware about how useful writing is, the better. Seeing you writing is great and you pointing out other people writing will help them see how useful it is too.
How can I do more?
It’s always good to keep crayons and paper close at hand, so that you can give them to your child anytime to play with.
Write words under your child’s drawing – like their name or what they have drawn – that will help them understand the meaning of words.
Later you could clip 10 or 12 of these drawings together to make a book. This will show your child how books can be made.
Let your child see you writing – notes, lists, letters and emails. If you don't write much yourself, show your child other people writing when you are out and about.
Encourage your child to use ‘pretend’ writing in play - writing their own name, notices or price lists. You could even give them a little notebook when you go to the shops or when they’re playing ‘shop’ with their friends.
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