Writing Activities and Ideas for the Reluctant Writer

Is getting your child to write impossible? Try using one of these creative ideas to get your child writing. . .

1. The Family Journal
Buy a spiral or composition notebook and write to your child. Ask things about how his/her day was, what was special about something or their favorite part of a book. Correct spelling and grammatical errors by modeling correct writing, rather than with a red pen. For example,
My daughter: “Do I have anuff alowence to get a poly pokit set?”
My response: “I am not sure if you have enough allowance to get a polly pocket set. We’ll check and see when Daddy gets home.”

Try to repeat correctly any errors that your child may have made.

2. 5 Things
Whenever we finish reading about somewhere or something, I have my daughter write 5 sentences about what she learned. She’s allowed to write about anything she finds interesting, about something she learned, or something she would like to learn. I generally follow up her comments with something that I liked, learned or thought was funny.

3. Multiple Authored Stories
This idea is similar to a journal prompt. Give your child the beginning of a story to finish. However, only allow your child to write 2-5 sentences at a time. Finish the story with your child, taking turns each writing the next few lines to the story. This is a great way to include several ages of kids at once. We write stories as a family with my 7 year old daughter, and my 5 year old son.

4. Go Digital
My digital camera and computer have become one of my favorite home schooling tools in the last few years. Since you can now set up websites on the internet for free, consider letting your kids take pictures and blogging about what they’re doing. Kids seem to be more motivated to write, and write correctly, when they’re getting published.

5. Flat Stanley
For more information about what the Flat Stanley project is, see my, “We Love Stanley” blog. This has been a great way for my kids to practice their descriptive writing skills. We have enjoyed the project so much, and I’ve found it to be so valuable educationally speaking that we have included it as a curriculum source on our yearly paperwork.

6. Write letters
Write a letter or two to long lost relatives. Make your kids write thank you notes. (Besides the fact that it’s polite, it’s good writing practice). Consider allowing them to get a penpal. There are numerous penpal exchanges on the internet, but most kids are excited just by getting something in the mail from anyone. My daughter writes to her cousins in Connecticut and her friend who lives 10 minutes away.

7. Writing prompts
Writing prompts are journal questions and or story starters to help get your creative juices flowing. For my kids, I print blank top lined paper. That way, they can illustrate their stories. If you are all out of fresh ideas try this Creative Writing Prompts website that has at least a couple hundred ideas. With my kids, the sillier the better.

8. Book It
Help your kids create a book. One of our favorite ways to create a book is to make a “pocket book.” When you’re done a pocket book is going to have a series of “pockets” stapled together. The outside of the pockets will contain writing and the inside of the pockets you will put related items; either things you’ve collected, pictures the kids have drawn etc. Here’s how to make one:
Take a 3-5 sheets of construction paper and fold in half width-wise. Staple or glue the short edges so that you are left with a wide and short envelope. (Tip: If you are including lots of heavier things you can even tape the sides for extra durability.) Before putting things into the envelopes, write a brief description or a few lines of a story. Next, put it together by punching holes on one side and tying with yarn. Inside the envelope, put things that are related to what you wrote.

9. Model It
One of the best ways to teach older students good writing techniques and good essay form is to model it. It is fine to give your student prompts when writing a specific type of essay. For example, my daughter has recently started writing book reports and I told her to do it like this:
This is a great (or whatever adjective she’d like to choose) book because. . .(list 2-3 reasons why).
My favorite part was (describe favorite part).
I would recommend this book to (anyone who wants a good laugh–you get the idea).

Notice that I’m encouraging a few habits here. I want her to support her statements with information, and I’m teaching her to write an introduction, body and conclusion.

10. Edit It
One of the best ways to get better at writing is to write and re-write. Have your child edit his own work (and even other people’s work). First, have your child read out loud what they have written. Chances are very good that they will recognize at the very least, their more obvious mistakes. Secondly, pick on one or two things that you want your child to improve on. Help correct just those things and resist the urge to point out everything that may be wrong.

Have fun! Writing will be difficult for your child if it is a drudgery. Try to publish (and by publish I mean make it ‘public’ in any way) as much of your child’s finished work as you can. While good writing technique and form can be taught without a curriculum a little help is nice every now and then. For additional information on teaching writing and grammar check out these sources:

Write Shop
Igniting your Writing
Write Guide’s individual classes by e-mail
ScholarWord’s writing software