As a published author and homeschooling mom I understand that writing for an assignment is one of the hardest things to do for many homeschoolers and their parent/teachers. Every age in your class can benefit from these activities and resources and help them find enjoyment in writing.
Just Write No Rules
As an author I know that my finished product has to be as perfect as possible. My spelling, grammar and punctuation are all properly done and so on. But in the very beginning of writing a book or story that is far from the case.
This is a first draft, think of it as a lump of coal in the earth. That lump is slowly changed into a diamond. Then that raw diamond is cut and hewn into a fine gem. Writing story, book report or essay is the same process.
When I begin to write without the worry of having to follow rules there is a sense of freedom. Children feel the same way. Unbound they can enjoy using their imagination to create. There is always time to go back and fix things later. For a few assignments overlook the errors. Yes, that means turn of the editor completely. Just have fun putting words to paper.
Our house has a notebook in the dinning room, on the cover is the word Cliffhanger. During the day we each take turns writing in the story. There’s one catch you have to leave your entry with a cliffhanger for the next person.
For example, Timmy ran though the house looking for the lost key to Davey Jones chest. When suddenly there was a loud boom behind him, turning Timmy saw….
The next person would tell about what Timmy saw and add something for the next person to write out of. Anything and everything will end up in these stories. Making them fun to read and even more fun to write.
Kids love stories about them. Rose Wade mom of two says, “During vacations or special days out I get my kids to write down a few memorable lines, a memento of their experience.”
Keeping a journal is a wonderful way to remember special times in our lives. It gives kids a chance to write about the world though their eyes. Journals should be one of those no rules places. The freedom to write how they feel or what they see.
Word List Challenge
Ana Maria Seaton, artist, author and homeschooling mom uses this to challenge her eight year old daughter. “I started challenging her to come up with five words each month for my writers group that we would all have to use in a story. Simple words weren’t enough so she started to look for bigger words that she could find by reading.”
Get the whole family involved. Ask each person to give you three to five words. Once you have your list of words give everyone a copy and write a story including that list.
To make it more challenging for older students you can put a letter limit on the length of the words. All the words on their list must be at least five letters long. You’re also building on vocabulary with this exercise.
As a writer there are moments I’ll see a photograph, magazine ad or pass by an object that inspires a story. Teaching a creative writing class at a private school I asked my students to bring in a muse. A young man named Joey brought in a Lego soldier, with no head.
That headless toy inspired a three page tale about what caused the loss. And where the toy hoped to find his little plastic head. On the first day of class I was told by this boy that, “writing stories is stupid.” A week later he writes one of the best toy tales I’ve ever read and was excited about it. All because of a little headless Lego.
Paula Smiley, homeschooling mom to five, plans to inspire one of her sons with his love for sharks and the ocean. A muse can be found almost anywhere. In your pockets, your cabinet, looking out the window, a museum the possibilities are truly endless.
Writing with a known character is fan fiction. There are writers of all ages that write about their favorite characters. Even the most stubborn writer will perk at a new story about their favorite television, book, or movie character.
My son has a terrible time trying to decide on a subject, but he loves Indiana Jones. He enjoys writing a new adventure for Indy and even adds himself in the story. It’s great fun and gives an uncertain writer more confidence because they know the subject so well.
There are many writing groups that welcome young writers. Get on the internet and search for local writing groups. Seeing how much someone else likes to write outside your home/classroom can be inspiring. Groups often provide mentors and materials to add to your curriculum as well.
A favorite event of my family is National Novel Writing Month also known as NaNoWriMo. Taking place the month of November the goal of the event is to write an entire novel in thirty days.
Adult participants are required to pound out at least 50,000 words. The Young Writers Program allows kids 17 and younger to make their own challenging but reasonable goals. There are usually local events to provide motivation and encouragement.
There are dozens of websites that are geared for writers. The ones I’ve found students enjoy most are OneWord.com and Write or Die.com
One Word is a great way to warm up. Once you get to the homepage at http://oneword.com you simply click on the big purple go button. This goes to a screen with a text box and a word in purple at the top.
You have sixty seconds to write something about that word. Anything thoughts, a beginning of a story, describe the word. Whatever that word fills your mind with. After your minute is up you type in your name and hit submit to see other peoples responses listed with your own.
This is great for students not only does it give them that boost to write. They get to see their name and what they’ve written displayed. They can use this as their writing prompt.
Write or Die is my favorite writing tool. Not only do I use it in my son’s studies I use it to prod myself. You choose a word and time goal, mode and grace period. Once you click write you are taken to a text screen where you begin. If you stop typing for too long something happens to prod you back to work.
In normal mode an annoying sound that will only stop when your fingers start tapping keys is the prod. If you choose Kamikaze mode and idle too long your words begin to disappear.
Basically get out of that box, get out and have some fun writing in the park, at Burger King, in a museum. After all rules are made to be broken…or at least bent for the sake of making writing fun.