Writing at Home
· Interviews: Encourage children to ask family members about life experiences, take notes and write short articles or stories based on what they learn. This can be especially fun if they ask a grandparent about a historical anniversary or an activity that is no longer common, like listening to radio shows.
- Journals: Buy your child a special notebook to write in. Encourage him to write about daily activities, important life events, feelings and other personal topics.
- Television: Turn watching television into an educational activity by asking children to write about a program they've seen. They can retell the show's story, or better yet, explore the values and meanings it expressed.
- Reading: Read aloud to your children. This will improve their writing by exposing them to well-written sentences and well-expressed ideas.
- Proud displays: Have a place in your home where you display your children's writing. This will build their confidence and encourage them to write more often.
- Dictation: Encouraging very young children to generate ideas and think in complete sentences. This will help prepare them to write alone when they get older. Encourage children to dictate stories and ideas to you, and keep them so they can read them later.
- Pen Pals: Finding a pen pal for your child would make writing "real." Helping children make the connection between writing and the "real" world will increase an interest in writing.
- Vocabulary Notebook: Teach your child new words each week and encourage her to use them. Make it into a game and give points for using the new words. Your child can keep a vocabulary notebook and get rewarded for the number of new words learned. The words will begin to appear like magic in her oral language and writing.
- What’s Going on?: Take a picture from a magazine and write a story about what the people or animals in the picture appear to be doing. The image could prompt an entire story or it could end up being just a small part of a larger story.
- First Sentence Story: Go through a bunch of novels and write down the first sentence – each one on a separate index card. Don’t reveal the source of the sentences. Shuffle the deck and select a card. Use this line as the first sentence of an original story.
- Tall Tale: Kids list five common things that happen every day that they never give much thought. Explain why cats “meow,” ants visit picnics, kites get caught in trees, etc. Select one of those occurrences and explain how or why it happens. The tone of the story can be serious or it can be wildly exaggerative. Kids can read or listen to a legend that explains how something came to be so they have a sense for how a story like this can be told.