7 Fun Ideas to Get Your Kids to Love Writing
The pen is mightier than the sword. But when it comes to your kids, it seems like they’ve mastered all forms of swordplay (on the Wii, with a broom, using a balloon...) while writing has fallen by the wayside. Needless to say the ability to communicate on paper – whether it’s to a pen pal, in a thank you card, or for a school essay – is incredibly important.
And good writing skills don’t just help get those A’s in English. With the new Common Core standards, there’s going to be a whole lot more writing in every school subject from history to sciences and even math . . . yes, math!
The good news is that it’s never too late (or too early) to foster a love of writing. Check out these easy activities that help your kids master the written word.
Journaling is one of the easiest ways to get kids interested in writing, and it’s never too soon to start. Take your children to the nearest bookstore or stationary shop and have them pick out a journal and a special pen. They can keep these supplies by their bedside and you can make this part of their nightly, just-before-bed routine. Just give them time alone to jot down their thoughts at the end of the day. Many journals have a lock-and-key closure, which lets them know they have the privacy to write whatever they want!
If they’re uncertain of how to begin, encourage them to make a few practice entries before starting the journal itself. You can offer to go over what they have written and make suggestions, if they want feedback. Journaling is also a good segue to introduce them to diary-based books, such as Diary of a Worm or Diary of a Wimpy Kid for younger readers and Little House on the Prairie or The Diary of Anne Frank for the older set.
Do you have a university or community college in the area? If so, check out what they have on offer for summer youth programs. Many will have one-day or multi-day writing workshops for school-aged children. Often these are very targeted with topics like learning how to write about nature. These workshops may also include multi-disciplinary activities, such as field trips or art projects that tie in with writing.
Local Author Readings
Encourage writing by letting kids talk to a real-life author. Libraries across America often sponsor readings and activities that involve local children’s book authors. The author will read their story to the children and be on hand afterwards to answer questions. There is usually the opportunity to buy a signed copy of the book, if you’re interested. If you have a Barnes & Noble in the area, they often host children’s book authors as well.
Meeting people who write for a living can make a deep impression on kids – and with luck, even inspire them.
Everything is more fun when you do it together. Writing tends to be a solitary activity. This project, however, is collaborative. A back-and-forth story has multiple authors who take turns to work on the same story.
Here’s how it works. Your child will come up with a title for a story and write the first paragraph. You (or better yet – a friend!) can write the next paragraph and hand it back to your child and so on. If you have several children, then all of you can work on this project together. Be warned, though: it can make for some very silly or weird stories.
Afterschool Writing Club
A writing club is an excellent way for your child to hone writing skills, while hanging out with other kids. The best place to check is your local library, which will frequently have kids’ writing clubs after school or during the summer.
No writing clubs in your area? Try starting your own. Check with your child’s teacher and find out if there are any other kids in the class with a particular interest in writing. Contact their parents and find out if they would be interested in getting the kids together regularly for different writing projects. You could meet in the library or choose a different house to meet in and rotate. Whether your child is joining a club or beginning one, it is a great way to make writing fun.
Make Your Own Book
Now that you have begun to nurture your child’s writing skills, why not take it to the next level and help your child to create an e-book?
Anyone with a Nook or similar reader knows that there are thousands of e-books being published every day. And because of the popularity of these books, even established writers are creating and self-publishing their works online. Both Kindle and Amazon have templates designed for writing your own. This project can take a while from start to finish, but there are few better ways to get kids to love the written word than to see their own words in print.
For little writers who haven’t yet mastered the keyboard, keep it old school and stick with pen and paper. There are a lot of easy book ideas for them to get started on, like writing their own version of a Mr. Men/Little Miss book or using book-making kits like Illustory or My Comic Book.
Write Your Own Reviews
If book reports just aren’t cutting it, empower them to express their opinions – on the things they love and the ones they could do without – in a real grown-up style review. Let you kids review anything and everything, and go with their passion. Do you have a Friday night movie-going tradition? Follow it up with a Saturday morning review. Have a music fan on your hands? What’s their opinion of the latest pop star single? Just took a trip? What did they think of the hotel? You can even let them review your cooking (just take it with a grain of salt). The point is to get them writing – and with reviews, those critical skills will be working too.
How do you instill a love of writing at home? Share your ideas with us!