Family Writing Activities
Calling the Shots.....All About Writing
With your child, decide whether you want to re-enact an actual family drama or act out a story that your child makes up. Let your child sit in the director's chair and call the shots. It's important that he or she tells the story. Either video record your family story or take photographs of key scenes. If you have taken photos, arrange them with your child's help to tell the story. Encourage your child to also write down the story. You may help with titles, credits, and any other special touches. Share the photo story with family and friends.
Name that Adjective.....Traits of Good Writing (words)
Help your child practice making word choices by describing objects in your home or around your neighborhood. One person selects an object- a tree for example. Another names a word that could describe the tree- leafy. The next person names a different adjective- green. You continue until no one can think of another adjective.
Sentence PI.....Traits of Good Writing (sentences)
Play Private Investigator with your child by investigating one of his or her favorite bedtime stories. Choose a section of the story, or the whole story if it's short, and count the number of words in each sentence. Look for patterns. Look for variety in sentence lengths and sentence beginnings. Listen for sound patterns and special effects in the language that make this book one of their favorites. Like Private Investigators, try to come to conclusions based on your research- uncover the mystery of what makes this story so enjoyable. Later, as you and your child read the story again, you may feel new appreciation for the author who carefully crafted all these smooth-reading sentences.
Taking Dictation.....Writing With a Computer
If you have a computer and can type, ask your child to dictate a story as you type it. This way the storyteller is free to let his or her creative ideas flow, without worrying about spelling or punctuation. If you don't have access to a computer, take the story down by hand. This process could catapult your young writer to new literary heights that may surprise and please you both!
Life Maps.....Choosing a Subject
Children enjoy making life maps that begin with the day of their birth. Milestones on the life map can be yearly birthdays and other special or unusual events. Naturally, you can make suggestions. However, try to let your child decide what he or she would like to put on the map. Talk about possible drawings or photos that could make the map more interesting and colorful.
Show, Don't Tell.....Revising Your Writing
Start with a simple sentence that "tells" something. For example, "It is a cold day." These sentences are easy to generate. Now, take the telling sentence about the cold day and turn it into a "show me" sentence. Use the five senses to add description, and brew up a really see-your-breath, bone-chilling, finger-numbing, shivering, freezing, winter day! Compare the original telling sentence to your "show me" version!
Besides the classic refrigerator-magnet approach to displaying your child's artwork and writing, consider these publishing avenues: A binder with clear slip sheets featuring stories and essays, a video of your child reading his or her story, a website featuring the story with any accompanying artwork, a copy of the story mailed or emailed to interested family.
From Under the Sink.....4 types of paragraphs
Plan a family gathering for telling stories. Each family member gets something from under the sink in the kitchen: detergent, sponge, floor cleaner, dusting spray, cleanser, rag, etc... Begin by having each person describe his or her object using words that relate to as many of the five senses as possible. Next, have each person, imagining to be this object, tell a personal story: "I remember when...," "I used to live on the shelf of...," etc... Have fun telling funny, sad, mysterious, or fantastic adventure stories. Then get scientific. Explain what this object is made of, what is contains, and how it is designed to be used. Finally, try to persuade everyone else to get this object, too. Consider what you would say in a commercial. Why do they need to buy one? How would it make their life easier, better, safer? Any buyers?
Try this family project for a week. Each member of the family has a small journal notebook. Each day, for a week, spend some time together writing down what you did all day. Include as much detail as you can. Children can write about what they ate, what happened in school, recess, after school, during the evening. Adults can write about work, commuting, errands, meetings, and evening activities. Be sure to journal through a weekend too. Use your family journals to record holidays, birthdays, and other special family times. Take time to share entries.
Making Scrapbook Memories.....Albums
Gather some photos, postcards, and other memories from a recent family outing or event. With your child, explore the pictures and material. Encourage your child to come up with words and phrases to label these items in a way that tells the story of this special time. Supply the paper, tape, labels, stickers, pens, markers, and pencils. Together, create a page or two to add to a family scrapbook.
In the End.....Personal Narratives
Fire up your child's imagination by completing some sentences. Begin by using your child's name as the first word of the sentence. Take turns completing a sentence with a lively verb and a logical conclusion. For example, "Jamie leaped over the mud puddle, ...climbed onto the raft,...snored all night, etc. If you get stuck, try starting your sentence with another name or word. When this gets too easy, try stringing the sentences into a story as you go.
Grocery lists, shopping lists, things-to-do lists- making lists is a lifetime activity. Invite your child to join you in creating lists whenever you can. It is a great organizational skill and also fosters creative thinking. What am I forgetting? What else should I include? Careful list making promotes clear thinking. Try these fun lists: What would you like to do on a Saturday afternoon? Who would you like to get a letter from? How would you like to spend a special holiday or birthday? What could you give someone that wouldn't cost anything? Name as many blue things as possible.
Time-Capsule Letters.....Friendly Letters
Ask your child to write a letter, describing their interests, funny experiences, adventures, friends, pets, favorite foods, books, articles of clothing, dreams for the future, hobbies, fears, or any other information that would be fun to remember. Keep your child's letter in a safe place until the end of the year, or their high school reunion, or any other time that you agree on opening it again!
K-L-M Kenny, Lorie, and ME.....Alphabet Books
"Talking Alphabet Stories" can go on the road or around the table. Create your own model or use the following as a guide:
My name is Annie, and my friend's name is Alicia.
We come from Allentown, and we eat anchovies.
My name is Bert, and my friend's name is Bob.
We come from Boston, and we eat baked beans.
See if you can get through all 26 letters of the alphabet. You may want to write it down, and enjoy reading it later.
Refrigereporter.....Family Newspaper Stories
Encourage each member of the family to write brief news reports of important events in their lives at school, work, home, etc. Try to add a catchy headline to each story. Include a byline, telling who wrote the story. Each article should answer the 5 Ws (who, what, where, when, why) as they apply. Date each story. Whenever you update your newspaper, save your old news stories in a family scrapbook.
Critic's Choice.....Book Reviews
Reviewing helps foster the development of a critical eye. In a book review, you ask questions: What is the book about? Why do I like this book? What main ideas did the author share? Invite each person in your family to review the latest book he or she has read. It is also okay to discuss things you didn't like about the book, and would change. You can also have fun reviewing other things such as movies, restaurants, stores, family outings, concerts, museums, TV shows, games, and concerts!
Explain Yourself.....How-To Writing
Invite your child to join you in a project that requires following step-by-step directions. Perhaps he or she can read each step as you go along. Talk about something that you do automatically. Can you break it up into steps? Try writing down the steps for some simple everyday activities: how to get from your house to school, how to prepare a bowl of cereal, how to feed and care for a pet, and so on. Then, follow it as written, to make sure it makes sense.
Dear Sir or Madam.....Business Letters
Invite your child to think of a business that might deserve a compliment, based on his or her experience. Suggest writing a letter- either to the deserving business, or to someone who can give your child information about a topic of interest, perhaps something being studied in school. You can find places to write by looking in the Yellow Pages, visiting a local library, or surfing the internet.
Back When.....Time-Travel Fantasies
Plan a family meal or evening in which you will all do things the way a previous generation would have done them. Eat a typical meal. Play a game, read a book written from that time period. For this activity, you might want to reflect on your own childhood when you were in third grade. You can also go back to Grandma and Grandpa's generation. Or, if you are willing to do the research, Civil War days, the turn of the century. Invite your child to write the story of your time-traveling adventure.
Find a favorite storybook and re-write it into a play. Take turns playing your favorite characters, and remember to tell the story through the characters' dialogue. Perform this for neighbors or family.
Think of two words that rhyme, like green and machine. Come up for a meaning of each word, like "grass colored- engine" Give the two definitions to the people who are playing with you, and they must guess the rhyming answer!
Vocabulary Workouts.....Reading and Writing New Words
Add new words that you encounter each day to a family vocabulary list. Put the list where you will see it each day. Encourage one another to use the new words until they become a part of your speaking and writing vocabularies. Visit Daily Goodies for the word of the day!
Tune In.....Learning to Listen
Make a point of asking your child questions about things that you hear. It can be as simple as, "Do you hear that bird cooing or that robin singing?" Help your child focus and listen for specific sounds, and then find words to describe the sounds. Share stories about sounds, music, or news that you heard during the day. Ask your child to describe what he or she heard that day.
Write Around Story Swap.....Continuing a Story
Sit at the table with your family. Have a timer nearby. Set the timer for three minutes. Each of you will start your own stories. You can either decide on a common starting sentence, or just create your own individual story starter. When the timer rings, you pass your paper to the person next to you. Everyone will now have someone else's paper. They must read the story, and then continue it until the timer rings again. Then, they switch again. This continues for a few times, and then you can call "Conclusion Time". This is the last timed segment, and you must now conclude the story. Share your stories at the end!
Writing ideas by Great Source (Write On Track)