Friday, November 16, 2007

Writing Exercises

My youngest daughter brought home a creative writing booklet by bic writing instruments to encourage creative writing in children. Their article said, " 'art' is nothing more than playing with color, form, sound, movement, or words." Also, "Creative expression helps with academic success and enlivens our world." I thought this booklet had some great ideas that I would love to use them at home and in a classroom, as well. I thought I would share some of my favorites. As I read through these, I also considered that these would be fun ways for children to practice using their spelling words, too, in these same writing activities, but using a certain amount of their words from their spelling or vocabulary lists.
Some of their writing prompt ideas:
  • Use old family photos as writing prompts. They can write what they see, and this may also trigger topics such as what their own daily life is like, smells from their childhood kitchens, tastes and more.
  • Grab paint chips from a paint selection area and have the child write a story or poem using one or all of the imaginative paint color names.
  • Use a cookbook or recipe for inspiration. The story can talk about the food, what occasion it was made for, who the guests were, or a silly story about what happened after the guests ate it.
The booklet also stated that children should become comfortable writing, and these ways "help them to realize words can come naturally":
  • Bubble Trouble: sticky notes cut into circles and placed on family photos, magazine pictures, or newspaper articles for the child to fill in with what they think the people are thinking or saying.
  • Caption Action: Cut out newspaper cartoons and leave off the words. Encourage the child to make up their own version.
  • Quote catcher: Designate a small board (bulletin, chalk, white/wipe-off) in a central area and encourage family (or class) members to post their favorite quotes. The "simple exercise of writing another's words teaches kids how well-written words flow."
Be a writing role model (as a parent or teacher):
  • share/write your story, try to get family members to participate, as well. I try to do this in my scrapbooking.
  • write notes to your child. I also try to do this, and when I student taught, I did this for the students, as well and put them in their desks, in their journals, etc. to let them know I thought they were special, as I try to do for my own girls.
  • Keep a journal and have your child see you writing in it.
  • Encourage written thank you notes. I don't see too many people doing this... but I do it. Even things that aren't tangible gifts. For instance, my daughter got more one-on-one time with the piano teacher yesterday and the teacher took special time to teach her a fun, new song: Over the river-a Thanksgiving tune! My daughter had so much fun! So, I sent the teacher a thank you note today. I truly feel it is a dying art.
  • Use a dictionary and keep several handy around the house.
  • Be encouraging, not critical of your child's work.
  • Limit television and computer use and listen to "books on tape when driving so children can begin to hear well-written language."
Their last section in the booklet was "Word Surge"... to expand word wealth.
"Research indicates that the number of different words a child is exposed to in the early years is a key predictor of future reading and academic success."
  • Word of the weekend: post a word of the weekend on the fridge and challenge each other to slip it in casually to conversation over the weekend. The first person to do so gets to pick the following weekend's word. (could do word of the week for a classroom)
  • Play word games like Scrabble, crossword puzzles, etc.
  • Vocabulary Vertigo: Write child's weekly words (spelling, vocabulary, or make up your own themed list) on bright, colored index cards and tape them to the ceiling over their bed (or reading area in the classroom!) Decorate them with stars, planets, etc. and expand your child's linguistic galaxy.
  • Ransom letters: Have your child cut up old magazines and newspapers. They can choose big, fun, bold fonts, or words, pasting them together to write letters, "stories or phrases with eye-catching appeal. "
They also had a list of other tun writing websites:
Mad libs
Create a Play
The Story Starter
Magnetic Poetry for kids, online
Word of the day
Online dictionary/thesaurus, word games, etc.


Isabelle said...

These all sound such great ideas. Anything that encourages children to write is going to be good.

Molly said...

I got lots of writing practice as a young person by writing letters. Of course,as you point out, that is almost a dying art! But telephones were in their infancy in Ireland, and expensive to boot. When I was at college, and in my first year teaching I'd sit down every Friday night and write a letter home to my parents. My life wasn't so exciting so I'd take ordinary events and put a funny spin on them, to entertain the folks. I agree with Isabelle that whatever gets kids writing is good!