Six ways to encourage young writers
Follow these suggestions to encourage your child's budding writing skills.
1. Poetry Puzzler
Both you and your child should write down five fun words in a list. Exchange lists and write poems (both of you) containing the listed words. If this is too easy, make a longer list of words! If it's too hard, limit the word selection to one topic, like things on a farm or favorite foods.
2. Quick Trip down Memory Lane
Have your child start a story with this sentence: "I remember the first time I ___________. I was…" Once she's chosen the subject, have her write without stopping for three minutes. Tell her she can't re-read or edit until time's up. If she can't remember any more and there's still time left, encourage her to start writing a new memory with the same beginning sentence. It's a great way to "warm up" her writing mind and will free up a child who's scared of "messing up" a story or the blank page.
3. If I Were...
If your child complains he has nothing interesting to write about, ask him to imagine that he could step into the shoes of a favorite character or celebrity. Then have him write a list of things starting with "I would…" that details the things he would do, what it would be like, and how it would be different than his life now. For example, if he chooses Superman, he might write, "I would fly to school faster than the bus and never be late. Even if I overslept!" This is also great to do with "regular" people, too.
4. Pass It Along
(requires 3 or more people) In this writing game, each person writes a sentence in the story, and then passes it on to the next person to continue. Sounds easy - but there's a trick! Before passing the story, each writer folds the paper so that only the sentence she just wrote is visible to the next writer, who has to continue the story knowing only that last sentence and not any of the previous ones. Decide on how many rounds the paper will make, then read aloud the hilarious results.
5. Day in the Life
Have your child pick an object that he uses/carries/sees everyday and write a story from the perspective of that pencil/backpack/TV remote. How does it feel about its job? About the people who use it? Have him write down observations and details about what happens to his chosen object over the course of a day to make the story rich and real.
6. Make a Book
To really help your young author feel a sense of accomplishment, collect some of her best writings and bind them up. You can easily do this with cardboard covers, or by putting contact paper over a specially created cover illustration on heavy paper. Have her make a table of contents, a title page, and a bio about herself to include between the covers.