Old Typewriter Prompts Written Language Work

typewriter in class

This old machine prompts creative writing, research and other language-related elementary work.

by Rachel Larson, Montessori Elementary Guide

There is some art that never dies. There are some old fashioned ways of doing things that never quite go out of style. The typewriter has always been a mysterious and enticing object to me, and after I purchased one, I decided to put it in my classroom. At first, I just thought it would be a lovely piece to add to the ambiance of my Montessori elementary environment. Once I realized it was a fully functioning typewriter, and that it would stimulate interest in language work, I thought more about how we could use it constructively.

It all started with a fascinating story about the history of the typewriter. I gave this story to small groups, and showed pictures of the first prototypes. The children were captivated by the machine and seemed shocked to learn that it isn’t prominently used in the modern day.

cursive before print

The students hand-write in cursive first and then recompose their drafts using the classroom typewriter.

After the story of the typewriter was told, the children were eager to get their chance to use the curious machine. They knew that they would be able to type up their work after writing it out on paper in cursive handwriting first. Once they wrote their story, then they could use the typewriter to write a final draft. After agreeing to the terms, they exploded into story writing. Stories ranged from tales of dinosaurs, to factual stories about their pets. The children couldn’t get enough of writing down their ideas and then transcribing them into typewritten tales.

This curiosity pertaining to literature and story writing is a beautiful thing to witness. In the Montessori elementary classroom, there are no limits to acquiring knowledge. Students are shown how to explore, write, illustrate, chart information and research. Once they understand this vital piece of the elementary environment, they can explore anything that interests them in the same way. While exploring, the children find their own path, one which they can craft, tailoring it to their passions and interests.

The story of the typewriter led the children to find their own writing style. It also led them to deepening their interest in reading, curiosity about the history of writing, and excitement to share their beautifully typed stories. A sense of pride emerged in them as they wrote their stories, which will only lead them to want to write many more. Communication is such a powerful tool, and these young learners are just beginning to understand and appreciate their own writing voice.

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