Writing is such an important part of your child’s development and education. Of course, you probably already remember how important essay writing was during testing time when you were in school. That hasn’t changed. When you also consider all the poorly written work emails you get in a day, it makes it even easier to understand how dire it is for kids to learn to communicate effectively when they write. There’s more to writing than just school work and business communication, though. Journaling is an excellent way to teach kids to explore their feelings. Creative writing is also wildly important for kiddos as it nurtures their imagination.
How do you encourage a child to write? It’s not always easy, but making it fun can certainly help.
1. Telephone Pictionary
There’s actually a board game, called Scribblish, that follows this same concept. However, you can play the game without shelling out money. Start by having your child write down a secret sentence. Maybe it’s a short quote from a Disney movie or just something they’re feeling. Next, they’ll pass it to a friend or sibling and that player will try to draw what the sentence says. They’ll fold over or tear off the original sentence. When it gets to the next person, they’ll try to translate the drawing into a sentence. This can follow as many steps as you want. In the end, it’s just like playing telephone and super fun to see how convoluted things got from the original message.
2. Personalized Card Messages
Getting ready to send that Amazon gift card to your brother in another state? Set down your child and ask them to write a letter to their uncle. If they’re stuck, make gentle suggestions by asking them about their favorite memory with their uncle or reminding them of the last present he sent.
3. Start a Journal
The traditional way of doing this is to just buy your sweetie a fun new journal and some cool pens. Then let them decide what to write inside. You could also make it a journal you share — a safe place for them to tell you their feelings and secrets or ask you questions they might be embarrassed to ask out loud. You could even write shared stories by taking turns filling a page each night.
4. Popcorn Storytelling
Remember popcorn reading in class? Think of this like that. You can start a story with a sentence or two, then pass it on to one of your children. Whether they take two minutes to write out the next part of the story or just tell you what happens next, they’re still “writing” and creating something new. After two minutes, it’s someone else’s turn.
5. Secret Storytime
Similar to popcorn writing, but with a bit more structure. Start with a piece of paper and have the first kiddo write down the name of a person or character, then fold it over and pass it along. The next kid will name another person, fold it, again, and pass it on. Keep passing until each of the following questions are answered:
Where did they go?
What did they do?
What did they say?
How did it end?
The last player unfolds the paper and uses the answers to tell the story.
6. Mad Libs
Mad Libs have been around for decades and are still pretty popular. Now only is it a fun storytelling adventure, it’s also a chance to each your kids grammar and sentence structure. Start by working your way through a couple books. Next, make up your own Mad Lib for your children to fill in and, eventually, encourage them to make one for you.
7. Vocab Challenge
You can use your children’s vocabulary words from school or have your own set of words at home. Help them learn a fun new word each morning and then ask them to come up with a sentence that uses that word. For older kids, ask them to take all their sentences from the week and use them (and new sentences) to create a story.
8. Screen time, School time
It’s summer. You don’t want everything they learned to go to waste. But, you also don’t have a brain full of activities to fill the two months’ worth of days they’re off. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of screen time. However, if you’re feeling guilty, making it a “learning opportunity.” “You can watch Moana, but then you have to write five sentences about it.” As they get older, challenge them with more specific questions to answer. “What did she learn?” “Why was her grandma so important to her journey?” You get the idea.
9. Grocery Time
This isn’t exactly a game but, with enough enthusiasm from you, it might seem like one. Ask your kiddo to help write out the grocery list. This could be as imaginative as asking them what they’d like to buy or as useful as helping them write out and spell the things you actually need to get. Bonus: Including them in your meal planning and grocery buying might actually mean less dinner table stubbornness. Maybe.
10. Caption Contest
Make copies of funny family pictures and put them in a scrapbook. Let your kids have fun writing the captions for each picture.
11. Guess Who!
Remember the game of Guess Who where you had to use descriptors to eliminate people until you accurately guessed who the other person was? A simple twist on this game is to show your kids different pictures of people or characters they know, then ask them to write out five sentences that describe their person. Afterwards, they’ll take turn reading their descriptions to one another and guessing who they got.
12. Dialogue Writing
This can go multiple directions. You could print off a comic strip with no dialogue and ask your children to decide what happens and what is said. You could even print out completely blank comic strips and let them write or draw their own comics. Another option, though, is to simply say, “What do you think so and so would talk about while out to dinner?” This could be something like Mickey and Minnie or even Grandma and Dad. Start simple, but mix things up as they get better about it. “What would you talk about while stuck in traffic with your music teacher?” “What do you think I would say to the President?”
13. Invest In Story Cubes
There are so many iterations of story cubes and so many ways to play! The basic concept is simple, though: Little cubes that you roll like dice and help get your brain working.