Activities and prompts that will get ‘em to write in their free time (willingly)!
Whether they like it or not, kids do a lot of writing. From scratching out grammar exercises and their thoughts on star systems for science class to composing reports on Mark Twain, there’s just no way around it. So why not make it FUN?
Writing is an amazing thing to learn to love. The act is both logical and creative. It helps kids find their voice, express their own unique feelings and interests, sharpen their communication and a myriad of other things. So let’s dive into getting them to love it as much as (or more than) we do.
1. The Basics
If your kid is reluctant to pick up a pencil, pen or keyboard you should first eliminate any physical barriers. If they struggle with their dexterity, get toys that improve their hand strength and agility. With solid mobility, their handwriting and typing skills can keep up with their flow of ideas. These hand toys, finger exercisers and putty will build strength and finger mobility and keep their hands entertained at the same time.
Wanting to write starts with a healthy appreciation for the written word and a well-developed funny bone. Hone both with a silly word challenge. This popular game has been cracking kids (and grownups) up ever since the Truman era and still is. You can find booklets on virtually every theme imaginable, but you can even make your own. Not familiar with it? Here’s how it works:
- One person fills in the blanks and prompts others to come up with words like adjectives, nouns and verbs to complete a story.
- At the end, the one who does the writing reads the funny result out loud.
- Everyone collapses in giggles (repeat process until abs are sore).
This is a very sneaky way to help kids master parts of speech, expand their vocabulary and pick up on nuanced meaning in everyday expressions. The best part? They can’t hear themselves learning over their own laughter.
3. Pencil & Paper Games
Speaking of fun games, ever heard of Consequences? It’s not as serious as it sounds (or at all, actually). Similar to Mad Libs, you partner up to craft a silly story with hilarious results. The game works best with 2-4 players. Here’s how this one works:
- Each player starts with a piece of paper and a pencil.
- Using your own paper, you each write down a person’s name as the first step in the story. Then roll it up just enough to hide what you wrote and pass it.
- Next write something like “said (fill in the blank)” or “met (fill in the blank) and pass it again.
- You can continue this using endless variations, ending with “and the consequences were.”
- Unfold the paper and take turns reading your silly stories.
Here’s an example of what you can take turns writing, but the best part about this game is you can make it yours by adding twists and additions of your own:
- (Boy’s name)
- met (girl’s name)
- in/at/on (where they met)
- while (doing an activity).
- Then she said (what she said).
- And the consequence was (what happened).
The result should look something like this. Image from Colors of Teaching.
4. Prompt Jar
Does your kid have writer’s block? Give ‘em a nudge to get the creative juices flowing with a fun story prompt. Write down some inspiring idea starters like these on a piece of paper and toss them in a jar. You could even work together to come up with ideas for each other. Once you’ve each got your prompt, set a head-down timer (5 minutes is all you need) and write your stories together. Once you’re done, take turns reading them out loud and talk about what you liked and suggest how you can improve each other’s stories.
5. Time Capsule!
What if a thousand years from now archeologists are looking for clues into how people from the past once lived? Or if aliens from another planet visit in order to learn about human civilization? What would they discover about your family? You decide. Help your kid create their very own time capsule capturing what’s important to them in a jar, and bury it in the earth for future generations (and visitors) to find. Here are some ideas for what to include:
- A letter: What do they want these future people and beings to know? What was cool about the era in which they’re living? What are their hopes for the future and what do they hope to change?
- Meaningful objects: Help them gather objects like newspaper clippings, toys, photos, drawings and other items they find important. Have them write descriptions on what they consider each object to represent.
- This moment at-a-glance: Create or print a card for them to fill out with details about their lives and the world around them. What do they want to share about themselves, their family or their community? You can find plenty of fun, free printables here.
These are just a few ideas, and it’s a great way to get them thinking about other topics, from history and pop culture, to the environment, technology and more. Get creative and see what they come up with!
Other Reasons to Raise a Writer
Getting kids interested in writing doesn’t just help make them more successful academically. It teaches them to trust their own creativity and find confidence in self expression. So have some fun with these tips this summer. They’ll help build up those skills for the coming school year and a love of writing for life. Last but not least, be sure to pile on the praise, support for their efforts and get hands on when you can. You might discover a lot about your own creativity in the process. Check out this post from scarymom.com for even more tips and ideas on how to get your kid to love writing.