By Shannon Anderson, author of Mindset Power: A Kid’s Guide to Growing Better Every Day
This is a picture of my daughter, Maddie, from about ten summers ago. It was a beautiful summer day, and Maddie was spending some time outside writing. But this is not homework on her lap. She’s writing for fun!
Her favorite thing to write was plays. She would create a script, with her dolls and stuffed animals as the characters. Then, she would set them all up, gather props, and use her iPad to create a little video based on the play she wrote. We loved watching the finished product!
This is just one way to get creative with writing; there are lots of others. The sky’s the limit. You can encourage kids to write by letting them see you do it yourself, by writing together, or by signing them up for summer writing camps and workshops. You can also try some of the following ideas to get kids writing for fun.
1. Write to an Author
What books do kids enjoy reading? Make a list of the authors and visit their websites. There is usually a “Contact Me” page. Have kids compose letters to the author and send the email. You may be surprised by how many authors write back to answer kids’ questions.
2. Compose a Story with a Friend
Have kids choose a friend or cousin to write a story with. It’s even more fun if this person lives far away. They can use Google Docs to see what each person is writing in real time, or they can write different parts of the story and mail them back and forth. The pair can plan together and take turns writing until they come up with a complete story.
3. Write a Poem
Poetry is a fun way to play around with words. You can show this video of me teaching how to write a shape poem to get kids going:
Here’s another video about how to write a cinquain poem:
You can also have kids try writing a haiku or an acrostic poem.
4. Start a Diary or Journal
Let kids pick out a special diary or journal, and encourage them to write in it each day. They can record what they did, how they felt, what they are looking forward to, or something new they are learning. There is no wrong way to write in a journal. This will be fun to read at the end of the summer as a reminder of all their adventures.
5. Write a Letter and Mail It
Yes, it is easier and more convenient to send a text or email, but it can be more personal and special when you write a good old-fashioned letter and send it through the mail. You’d be surprised how many kids do not know how to write a greeting and closing for a letter or how to properly address an envelope. If possible, encourage a pen-pal connection to keep the letter-writing going.
6. Connect with Elders
Have kids interview an older family member, neighbor, or family friend. What did they do as a child? What were their favorite subjects in school? What was their first job? What wisdom or life lessons can they share? Kids can record the stories as a special keepsake.
7. Write a Review
Kids will likely read some great books over the summer, so have them write a review of a book they enjoyed. If it is a favorable review, you can share it online or with the book’s author. It means the world to an author to see kids talk about their books and share why they connected with them. You could record kids reading their reviews and post them on social media. Tag the author if you are able. You may get a response!
8. Write an Autobiography
Kids can record their lives in chronological order, starting with birth. You can share memories, photos, or other items from when they were a baby and fill in what they don’t remember. Then kids can take it from there. They can add to their autobiography every summer with highlights from the year. For ideas about what to include, visit your local library and check out other autobiographies.
9. Use a Story Kit
There are several companies that offer story kits for kids. (One company is Studentreasures.) Kids write in the kit and send it off to be made into a hardcover book. This is an empowering activity that allows kids to become “published” young authors. They will take more pride in their stories if they know they can share them with others in book form.
10. Create a Pass-It-Around Story
If you have several people in your family or group, this is a lot of fun to do together. Sit around a table and give each person a piece of paper. Everyone needs to write the beginning of a story that introduces a character and a setting. After a few minutes, pass the papers to the left. Each person reads the paper that was handed to them and adds to the story. Set a timer for a few minutes and continue. If you have five or six people, you can stop when your original story returns to you. If you only have two or three, let the stories go around the table twice. Let the final person write an ending to go with the story. Take turns reading the stories aloud.
One final tip for keeping kids writing this summer is to allow them to create a special writing space. It might have a desk or table, a comfy chair, and a variety of writing pens and markers. Giving them the tools and the encouragement to write is the most important part. Of course, being a raving fan of their work helps too. Happy writing!
Shannon Anderson has taught for 25 years, from first grade through college level. Her career highlight was being named one of the Top 10 Teachers who inspired the Today Show. Shannon is also the author of many children’s books and a national speaker. She was named the JC Runyon Person of the Year for her work helping kids with social and emotional issues through her writing and speaking. To find out more, you can visit: shannoisteaching.com.
Free Spirit books by Shannon Anderson:
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