In my recent post here at Scholastic, Helping Kids to Write, I talked about how important it is to have a regular time for writing each day, a time I refer to as "write o'clock." I also gave some suggestions for writing activities. Today I'd like to share more ideas.
Linking writing to reading we've shared with our children is a wonderful way to extend the literature experience. As a follow-up to a read-aloud, kids might choose to:
- dress up as a character and write a short description of themselves
- draw and write about the story in any way they choose
- list their favorite words from the story
- copy and then innovate on a repeated part of the story
After an independently read book, children might decide to:
- write another story set in the same fictional world
- describe a favorite character
- create a storyboard for a video advertisement of the book
- create a comic or a poem based on their favorite scene
Basing writing on play is another fun idea. Children could describe and photograph their play, to keep or send a record of it to someone else. Perhaps there's an opportunity for letter-writing within a game, or labels, signs and posters to create as props for a game. Some youngsters enjoy writing down dialogue for their toys or puppets, and this can even grow into a play script.
If time is short, here's a project kids can add to whenever they get a spare moment. Suggest to them that they create a book of jokes or visual gags. For younger kids, this might mean simply recording and collecting jokes they've heard or read. For elementary school students, they can extend this idea by setting up their own visual puns to draw or photograph. For instance, they could draw a picture of a table where the top is a pool, and call this "a pool table," create a joke about a chicken crossing the road being "poultry in motion," or make a play on words where an iPad becomes an "eye pad."
Lists are quick to create and there is often a real purpose behind them. From creating a wish list for their next birthday, to listing their top ten games, toys or movies, prompting children to draw up a list fits easily into lots of family moments.
One of the simplest things we can do as parents to help our kids become both readers and writers is to treat them as such. By this I mean we can share snippets of our own reading and writing with them, asking an opinion perhaps, or praising and taking an interest in reading and writing of their own. You might like to read more about this in Nurturing Readers and Writers. I believe it also helps to share with them how much we enjoy seeing them reading and writing. Something as simple as a smiling, "I love to see you reading/writing!" comment contributes to how good children feel about these activities.
Keeping writing activities short and fun is another of the main ways I know to encourage children to enjoy writing at home. It's not a time to focus on writing problems like misspellings. Rather, the focus should be on communicating ideas in words -- and having fun with it!