More Christmas writing prompts

Christmas writing prompts let kids describe cookie-baking and tree-trimming, make a Christmas acrostic poem, and write a heartwarming tale.

Did you enjoy last week’s holiday writing prompts? If so, we have a new set of engaging Christmas writing prompts for your family! The kids can write about cookie-baking and tree-trimming, create a heartwarming holiday story, build acrostic poems about the first Christmas, and make plans to spread a little joy.

In the midst of the holiday frenzy, set aside a few quiet minutes and invite your children to choose a favorite topic from the list below.

BONUS: To score some major Mom points, serve up some hot cocoa and a plate of cookies alongside these prompts!

1. C is for Christmas Cookie

December 18 is National Bake Cookies Day. If you were invited to invent a new Christmas cookie, what ingredients would you include? How would your cookie look and taste? What texture words would explain how it feels when you take a bite? Write a mouth-watering description of your creation.

2. O Christmas Tree

What’s your family’s Christmas tree tradition? Do you tromp through the forest to chop down a fragrant spruce? Do you visit the tree lot at the hardware store in search of the perfect fir? Or does your dad pull a box down from the attic or garage rafters and assemble the beloved artificial tree?

Describe one of your family’s most memorable experiences choosing, setting up, or decorating the tree. To help bring your story to life, include emotion words as well as sensory words of sight, touch, sound, taste, and smell.

3. The First Noël

The French word Noël and the Spanish word Navidad both mean Christmas. Choose one of these two words, and write an acrostic about the first Christmas. Your composition does not have to rhyme.

Example:

New star in the sky, you have

Opened our eyes.

Every shepherd watches and

Listens to angel songs.

4. A Christmas Story

Write a story that takes place on Christmas Eve. Use as many words from this list as possible: homeless person, bakery, snow, family, street corner, Christmas carols, lost wallet, dog, shoe, brother, memories.

5. Joy to the World

American poet John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) wrote a short poem that begins:

Somehow, not only for Christmas
But all the long year through
The joy that you give to others
Is the joy that comes back to you.

Make a list of 10 or more ways you can spread joy to others in the coming year.

Be sure to check back each week for more Writing Prompt Wednesdays!

Photo: a_b_normal123, courtesy of Creative Commons

50 Christmas Memories journal prompts

Let these Christmas memories journal prompts inspire your family to write about sights, sounds, moments, and traditions that make Christmas special.

When December rolls around, I’m always thankful for the seasonal traditions our family has built and the memories they evoke. While I don’t have an official Christmas memories journal, I try to take time to remember and write about the moments and memories of Christmas—both present and past—that speak to my heart.

Merry Mealtime Memories

I think most of us will agree that many of our holiday traditions involve food! For over 25 years, my neighbors have taken turns hosting our annual cookie exchange, so December always finds me stocking up on baking staples, scouring cookbooks (and now Pinterest!) in search of new recipes, and baking dozens of cookies.

Our big family dinner is on the 24th, with a glorious turkey and all the trimmings. And no matter what else is on the menu for Christmas breakfast, we’ll always bake fragrant cinnamon rolls and pull golden, icy-sweet summer peaches from the freezer—the ones labeled “For Christmas.”

Decking the Halls

Decorating the tree is an event unto itself. It means recounting 40 years of memories as we nestle ornaments, both old and new, among the branches. No one—and I mean NO one—can place a single ornament anywhere till my husband sticks his ancient yarn Santa on the tree, front and center.

Among our treasures are Snoopy and Woodstock ornaments from our first year of marriage in 1975, Battenburg lace angels and bread dough animals handmade by dear friends, a red double-decker bus purchased in the UK during a visit to our son, and ornaments with photos of our kids and grandkids over the years.

My stepmom passed away just over a year ago, and as I cleaned out her apartment, I found boxes of my dad’s glass ornaments—ones I remember from my own childhood. Talk about a rush of memories! Faded and fragile, these treasured globes have found a new home in glass vases on our sideboard.

Celebrating the Christ Child

On Christmas Eve, we bundle up and head to our pastor’s house. Sleepy children in fuzzy jammies, sweet babies resting in their mamas’ arms, and families dressed in Christmas finery on their way home from a celebration—we all gather to hear the reading of Luke 2, worship together, and welcome the Christ Child at midnight.

Christmas Memories Journal Prompts

Each family has special traditions, from Advent readings to caroling at convalescent homes, from setting up manger scenes to making gingerbread houses. Have you ever written down the different things that make Christmas unique and memorable for your family?

If not, don’t let another year go by without capturing those memories. It’s not too late to start a special Christmas Memories Journal that you can add to every year.

With your children, take time in the next few days, before the last-minute crush, to write about the sights, sounds, aromas, and activities that make the memories swirl every December. One person can do the writing, or you can share the pen and let everyone write something. Optionally, tuck in photos, Christmas cards, ticket stubs from a play or choir performance, or other memorabilia to enhance your journal.

Here are 50 Christmas journal prompts to get you started:

  1. How does your family welcome the holidays? Do you do something special to launch into December?
  2. What are your family’s Advent traditions?
  3. Do you have Nativity set traditions? Where and how do you display the pieces? Describe what your set is made of and how it looks. 
  4. What are your favorite Christmas books?
  5. How many Christmas trees do you decorate each year? Is each one different from the rest? Describe them.
  6. Record your Christmas dinner menu.
  7. Make a list of friends and family who stopped in to visit over the holidays.
  8. Have you ever had a Christmas mishap? Write about what happened! (For example, we can look back and laugh about the year our kids got coal in their stockings as a joke, even though it pretty much backfired at the time!)
  9. Do you get a fresh tree each year? Do you chop it down yourselves or buy it from a tree lot or farm? Write about your experience.
  10. When do you decorate your Christmas tree? Do you have tree-decorating traditions?
  11. Does your family put presents under the tree all month long, or do they all appear on Christmas Eve?
  12. Do you have a special Christmas stocking tradition? Are stocking gifts wrapped or unwrapped?
  13. Who is the first person to wake up on Christmas morning? What time does everyone wake Mom and Dad?
  14. What are you most thankful for this Christmas?
  15. Do you have special gifts from Santa?
  16. Do you leave out milk and cookies?
  17. If you don’t have a fireplace, where do you lay out the stockings?
  18. What are your gift-giving traditions?
  19. What is each family member’s favorite Christmas ornament?
  20. When do you start listening to Christmas music? What is each person’s favorite carol?
  21. Which family traditions will you keep when you are older?
  22. Make a list your favorite holiday cookies or treats.
  23. Write down memories about cooking and baking. Do you bake with others, or do you like to bake alone?
  24. What are your favorite spiritual Christmas traditions?
  25. What homemade gifts have you made for others? Received as gifts? How does it feel to give or receive this kind of gift?
  26. Do you give your pets Christmas presents?
  27. How do you encourage or bless those who are less fortunate than you are?
  28. Do you have a favorite Christmas movie? Do you have movie-watching traditions?
  29. How does your family decorate the outside of your house?
  30. What are your favorite Christmas smells?
  31. What was your most memorable childhood Christmas? Why?
  32. Do you go to church on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or both? Write about your favorite parts of the service.
  33. Is Santa Claus part of your family’s Christmas festivities? Tell about some of your family’s Santa traditions.
  34. Have you ever peeked at presents before Christmas? How did you feel?
  35. Do you host family Christmas celebrations at your house, or do you go somewhere else, such as your grandparents’ house?
  36. How do you spend Christmas day?
  37. What are your Christmas Eve traditions? Are there things you do every year, no matter what?
  38. Do you have a special Christmas breakfast? Is it the same every year? When do you eat breakfast?
  39. Does everyone take turns opening Christmas gifts, or is it a free-for-all around the tree?
  40. Some people get a special kind of ornament every year, such as snowmen, angels, rocking horses, or gingerbread men. Do you have an ornament collection or tradition?
  41. Does your family wear Christmas pajamas?
  42. Do you dress up or go casual for Christmas dinner?
  43. Some families open gifts on Christmas Eve and others wait until Christmas morning. What is your family’s tradition?
  44. Have you traveled a long way to celebrate Christmas in a faraway place?
  45. Have you ever been stuck on the freeway or in an airport on Christmas Eve? What was it like?
  46. Do you have a musical family? Write about the special role instruments and singing play at holiday gatherings.
  47. What are some ways your family remembers Jesus at Christmas?
  48. Write about one of your family’s most meaningful Christmas traditions. Why is it so important to you?
  49. Is there a traditional place you visit or an event you attend every Christmas, such as a tree-lighting ceremony, Christmas pageant, or holiday lights display? Write about it.
  50. Does your family celebrate holiday traditions from other countries? What special foods, decorations, or activities mark the event?

For some of us, it’s been a hard year, and Christmas may be bittersweet. As we celebrate the birth of the King, may your family times be meaningful and warm—no matter the circumstances. And may 2015 be filled with hope and promise for each of you.

What prompts about Christmas memories and traditions would you add to this list?

Happy journaling!

Kim-signature

Photo credits: John Morgan (Homemade Tree), Nathan Reed, Tennessee, USA (Journaling), LadyDragonflyCC (Christmas Flare)

Holiday writing prompts

These holiday writing prompts invite children to write vivid descriptions, make a party-planning list, and write a story about generosity.

As Christmas draws near, why not swap out some of your everyday writing for one or two holiday writing prompts? These four topics will encourage your children to write vivid descriptions, make a party-planning list, and write a story about generosity.

1. Up on the Rooftop

Imagine that your neighborhood is holding a Christmas lights competition, and you are in charge of decorating your house or rooftop with Christmas lights. What picture or design will you create? Will you use white lights, colored lights, or both? Describe the scene you will create, using as many adjectives as possible.

2. One Magic Christmas

What is your favorite winter or Christmas memory? What word best expresses your main feeling or emotion? Focusing on that emotion, write a paragraph or two describing this memory.

3. Party Planning

Your mom has offered to let you invite three friends to a holiday party. Brainstorm by making a list of ideas for activities, games, crafts, treats, and decorations your guests might enjoy.

4. Better to Give

Generosity is the character quality that imitates the Lord Jesus, who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” In a paragraph or two, write a story about a generous person. Try to include as many of these words as you can: Christmas Eve, duct tape, knock, silver candlesticks, secret, mice, kitten, limousine, and apple cider.

5. The Trouble with Cookies

Apparently, Santa has been nibbling a few too many cookies. His little round belly shakes when he laughs, like a bowlful of jelly, and his elves are worried about whether he can slide down chimneys in his current state. Imagine that you are one of the elves. Write a letter to Santa in which you try to convince him to drop a few pounds. Support your persuasive letter with three reasons.

If your children have enjoyed these holiday writing prompts, be sure to check back each week for more Writing Prompt Wednesdays!

Photo: Cliff, courtesy of Creative Commons

Free printable Christmas story starter

Jingle is not your ordinary Christmas bell!

This little bell has spent the last five Christmases in a forgotten, dust-covered box. But this year, Jingle experiences something very different!

Keep kids writing over the holidays with a free printable Christmas story starter about a jingle bell that has been trapped for in a box for 5 years!

Click the image above to download the Christmas Bell writing prompt. If you would like to share this free printable Christmas story starter with others, please link to this post. Do not link directly to the PDF file.

Keep Your Students Writing This Christmas

 

Break up your routine or add punch and variety to holiday-season writing lessons by occasionally offering Christmas Mini-Builders. Use them in addition to or instead of a daily writing activity.

Looking for more ways to get your kids writing over the holidays? Come back next week for some great Christmas prompts. Meanwhile, browse our huge collection of writing prompts here!

Enough | Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at WriteShop!

Photo: Ajari, courtesy of Creative Commons

Reflective essay prompts for high school students

Reflective essay prompts for high school students invite teens to think about role models, challenges, growth, and missed opportunities.

A reflective essay calls on the writer to express his or her own views of an experience.

Sometimes, reflective writing will ask students to think more deeply about a book, movie, musical work, or piece of art. Other times, the topics will invite them to reflect on a personal encounter or other experience.

These four reflective essay prompts for high school students are more personal in nature. For this activity, encourage your teens to choose the topic that speaks to them the most.

1. The Wind Beneath My Wings

A role model is a person you look up to—someone you respect or admire more than anyone else. Who is your role model? Your grandpa? Youth pastor? Coach? What have you learned from this person? Which of their character qualities or traits do you hope to one day have yourself? Write an essay explaining how this individual has influenced who you are today.

2. Can I Get a Do-Over?

By the time you reach high school, you have already experienced some of life’s ups and downs. You’ve seized some great opportunities and turned your back on others. Though you’ve made good choices, you have also made poor ones. You’ve both rejected and heeded good advice. Looking back, surely there are things you wish you had done differently. Write an essay sharing your most important piece of advice with a younger sibling or friend.

3. The Time of My Life

Have you lived or traveled overseas? Held an interesting or unusual job? Participated in a sport that challenged you physically and mentally? Think about an unusual experience or incident from your life. Write a reflective essay explaining how that experience has impacted you and caused you to grow as a person.

4. Picking Yourself Up

No one is immune to failure—scientists, authors, athletes, surgeons, and great leaders can all recount times of falling flat on their faces. Describe a time when you failed at something, and write a short essay explaining what you learned from this experience.

If you enjoyed these reflective essay topics for high school, be sure to check back each week for more Writing Prompt Wednesdays! Once a month, we feature topics especially suited for teens, such as:

Compare and Contrast Essay Prompts

Persuasive Essay Prompts

Expository Essay Topics

Photo: George TenEyck, courtesy of Creative Commons

38 creative gifts for book lovers and writers

Creative holiday gifts for book lovers and writers, including books and beverages, journals and jewelry, and games, gadgets, and puzzles.

This post contains affiliate links for products we think you’ll love. 

It’s true. Most people don’t need another sweater. So this year, instead of rushing out at the last minute and grabbing who-knows-what off the rack, why not make gift-giving more meaningful by shopping ahead of time with interests and hobbies in mind?

I’m sure you can think of several friends and family members who are especially fond of the written word. By choosing some of these creative gifts for book lovers and writers, you’ll soon be able to check a few names off your list—all from the comfort of your armchair.

I’ve rounded up 38 ideas that include books, beverages, journals, jewelry, games, gadgets, and puzzles for everyone, young and old. Poke around to discover some fresh, unique possibilities to make someone’s day merrier!

{1-8} Totally Toteable

Out of Print is a company that features classy-looking accessories for writers and bibliophiles, such as this conversation-starting canvas book-themed pouch (also available in other literary styles) and this stylish composition book tote bag!

You can even make a gift package for your favorite writer by filling one of these bookish totes with a beautiful journal, a pack of multicolor gel pens, and a book of creative writing prompts. Add a Panera Bread gift card and tuck in a sweet gift of chocolate. Then, encourage her to slip away for a couple of hours where she can write to her heart’s content!

{9-12} Out of the Box

Creative holiday gifts for book lovers and writers, including books and beverages, journals and jewelry, and games, gadgets, and puzzles.These four highly rated games will delight word lovers young and old. There’s something for everyone on your list!

For starters, Learning Resource’s Go to Press reinforces grammar skills as players join a newspaper staff to fix errors in the headlines.

The Storymatic Classic is a ton of fun! Prompt cards can be combined in thousands of ways to spark the imagination. When played alone, the ideas can kickstart writing sessions, but it’s also a lively group game. Available in both a grownup/family version and a kids’ version (ages 5 and up).

For family game nights, play fast-paced Wordical! Players combine cards and dice in a race to build the longest words.

A pocket-sized creative story generator, Rory’s Story Cubes is a favorite with my own grandkids. I love that even non-readers can participate!

{13-15} Calendar Capers

Creative holiday gifts for book lovers and writers, including books and beverages, journals and jewelry, and games, gadgets, and puzzles.

Consider a themed calendar to help avid readers and word lovers track their days.

For a desktop, Book Lover’s Calendar and 365 New Words A Year offer wit and wisdom in daily tear-off format.

The full-color Literary Classics wall calendar highlights a darker classic novel each month, including Macbeth, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and War of the Worlds.

{16-19} Leather Luxuries

Creative holiday gifts for book lovers and writers, including books and beverages, journals and jewelry, and games, gadgets, and puzzles.

Spoil the readers and writers on your gift list with little leather luxuries.

Who wouldn’t love to pour out one’s heart onto the pages of a vintage leather-bound notebook? Available in several colors, this old-fashioned, unlined journal wraps up neatly with a leather cord.

Leather doesn’t have to be expensive! Kindle Paperwhite users will appreciate this padded genuine leather MoKo case, which comes in 10 colors including eye-popping orange. This is the cover I have on my own Kindle, and I love it! (P.S. If your favorite bibliophile doesn’t have an e-reader yet, this is a great time to give one as a gift—tucked into a cheerful case, of course!)

Need a handsome gift for Dad or Grandpa? A pencil cup in rich mocha leather will grace his desk for years to come.

{20} Tea Time

Creative holiday gifts for book lovers and writers, including books and beverages, journals and jewelry, and games, gadgets, and puzzles.

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ~C. S. Lewis

Novel Teas will make a perfect stocking stuffer for someone who finds no greater pleasure than to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea. The package contains 25 individually tagged English Breakfast tea bags with literary quotes from the world over.

{21-23} Read It, Write It

Creative holiday gifts for book lovers and writers, including books and beverages, journals and jewelry, and games, gadgets, and puzzles.

The Book Lover’s Journal is a slim, comprehensive notebook for recording the reader’s book-reading history and keeping a wishlist of books to read.

Books I’ve Read: A Reader’s Journal offers a place to jot down details about the plot, favorite quotes, and more.

Bookworm Journal, a reading log for kids, will delight young readers who love keeping track of the books they’ve read.

{24-25} Creative Writing for Creative Kids

Creative holiday gifts for book lovers and writers, including books and beverages, journals and jewelry, and games, gadgets, and puzzles.

For tweens and teens, coming up with ideas is often the hardest part of writing. Leap Write In! is loaded with prompts and writing activities that inspire fanciful poems and stories to help their words take flight.

Also by Karen Benke, Rip the Page! uses fun writing exercises that encourage curiosity and awaken the imagination.

{26-28} Book Bling!

Creative holiday gifts for book lovers and writers, including books and beverages, journals and jewelry, and games, gadgets, and puzzles.

Delight your favorite literary lady with a unique piece of jewelry that reflects her love of reading or writing. From the unusual library book necklace to an assortment of literary jewelry to these conversation-starting “Chapter One-The End” earrings, you’re sure to find something clever to suit her personality and reading tastes!

{29} Librarian Envy

Creative holiday gifts for book lovers and writers, including books and beverages, journals and jewelry, and games, gadgets, and puzzles.

Bring back happy library memories by giving this Personal Library Kit to a book-loving friend. It would also make a great gift for a child who loves to play pretend!

Each of my grandma’s books bore a bookplate that read, “I enjoy sharing my books as I do my friends, asking only that you treat them well and see them safely home.” Most avid readers I know love to share their books. The hard part is remembering where each book went!

That’s why I’m smitten by this creative gift. Hearkening back to the days of old-fashioned library circulation, the set includes a date stamp and ink pad, real library cards, book pockets, and more.

{30-31} Words for Wordsmiths

Creative holiday gifts for book lovers and writers, including books and beverages, journals and jewelry, and games, gadgets, and puzzles. Word lovers are always excited to discover new resources to help them craft more descriptive passages. A welcome addition to any writer’s toolkit, The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes will help writers flesh out their stories’ characters. Delight your favorite author by tucking this gift of words into a stocking or tote.

Characters and settings will spring to life under the writer’s pen when The Describer’s Dictionary is pulled from the bookshelf! This gem contains lists of descriptive words and illustrative passages from notable novels and nonfiction works.

{32} It’s Puzzling

Creative holiday gifts for book lovers and writers, including books and beverages, journals and jewelry, and games, gadgets, and puzzles.

Book lovers and writers on your gift list will look forward to putting together this fabulous Bizarre Bookshop jigsaw puzzle. The artwork detail is incredible, with lots of subtle book humor in the reworked titles. Surprises await at every turn!

{33-36} Stocking-Stuffer Surprises

Creative holiday gifts for book lovers and writers, including books and beverages, journals and jewelry, and games, gadgets, and puzzles.

Check out these smaller treasures, each one perfect for sneaking into a stocking on Christmas Eve!

Introduce a touch of romance with a beautiful boxed soy candle from Paddywax’s Library Collection, such as this tuberose and gardenia-scented candle that’s embellished with a Jane Austen quote.

At just $1.95 apiece, these funky bookmarks from Literary Luminaries make an inexpensive treat for a book lover! Each one is uniquely illustrated with the caricature of a famous author or artist.

What wordie doesn’t love all things Scrabble? Someone on your list will go wild for this set of 56 pub-style cardboard Scrabble coasters.

And these tiny books make up a special edition Banned Books Matchbook Set from Out of Print. What a fun little goodie to nestle into a stocking!

{37-38} Too Cool For School

Creative holiday gifts for book lovers and writers, including books and beverages, journals and jewelry, and games, gadgets, and puzzles.

Last but not least, teachers, students, and writers will step out in a pair of snazzy school-supply-themed canvas shoes such as slip-on Classic Yellow No. 2 Pencil Shoes or Notebook Paper Graphic Shoes from Etsy. Perfect conversation starters, don’t you think?

The holidays are right around the corner. With so many great ideas just a mouse-click away, there’s no excuse for putting it off. Make a list, check it twice, and choose the perfect presents for your literary loved ones!

This post contains affiliate links for products we think you’ll love. 

Writing prompts about gratitude

These writing prompts about gratitude help children and teens focus on the gifts of family, friends, and creation.

As Thanksgiving draws near, it’s natural to turn our thoughts toward gratitude and acts of kindness. These five writing prompts about gratitude will help children and teens focus on contentment as they celebrate the gifts of family, friends, and creation.

1. Because of You

Invent a holiday to celebrate a person you love, such as “Aunt Laura Day” or “Papa Appreciation Day.” Write a paragraph expressing three reasons why you’re thankful for this special person.

2. Count Your Blessings

In what ways are you fortunate? Make a list of 10 things you are grateful for. Include people and things, events and experiences, both past and present. Each day, for the rest of the week, add 10 more items to your list. At the end of the week, you will have written down 70 reasons to be thankful!

3. For the Beauty of the Earth

God’s incredible creation causes gratitude to well up in many a heart. Think of something from nature that makes you feel close to God, and write a haiku poem about it.

4. Thankful Heart

Think about a time when a friend, relative, or total stranger did something incredibly special for you. Write a letter to thank them for that act of kindness. If possible, mail your letter of appreciation to this person.

5. The Secret of Contentment

It’s easy to feel happy when everything is going our way. But what happens when you don’t get everything you want? In Philippians 4:12, the Apostle Paul says:

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

Write a paragraph explaining how godly contentment compares to the world’s view of contentment. Use at least five of these words: grateful, selfish, jealous, possessions, loss, attitude, character, faith, friends, family.

Enjoy even more gratitude-themed writing activities!

Also, be sure to check back each week for more Writing Prompt Wednesdays!

Photo: Trocaire, courtesy of Creative Commons

140 Characters writing prompt | Free printable

It has been debated that social media leaves little room to express deep or complex ideas. How much can you really say in 140 characters? November’s free writing prompt will challenge your kids and teens to craft a tweet in which they describe themselves.

In the first space, have them brainstorm an assortment of words that describe their physical appearance, character, personality traits, and hobbies or interests. Once they’ve brainstormed, they can write their “tweet” in the blank rectangle that follows. Remember: the 140-character limit includes spaces and punctuation!

If they would like to practice first, they can do so on a sheet of blank notebook paper. The final result should be a description of themselves that’s as full and accurate as possible.

Would you leave the results in the comments? We’d love to see what your kids come up with!

How much can you really say in 140 characters? This writing prompt challenges kids to describe themselves in a single tweet. Download the free printable!

 

Click the image above to download the 140 Characters writing prompt. If you would like to share this free writing printable with others, please link to this post. Do not link directly to the PDF file.

Looking for more writing prompts? Browse our huge collection!

How to make word banks about nature

Make topical word banks about nature, science, or geography that kids can use again and again when describing a place or writing reports and poems.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links for products we recommend.

word bank is a list of words related to a topic or theme. Kids collect subject-specific vocabulary, organize it in a word bank, and then use it to enhance their writing.

This activity will help students create any number of nature-themed portable word banks they can use again and again when describing a place or writing nature-centered reports and poems. Encourage them to make word banks about nature topics that interest them or that you’re studying about in science or geography.

Make a Portable Word Bank

For each word bank your child wants to make, you’ll need a manila file folder. On the folder tab, write the theme of that word bank, such as “Seasons.”

Some children will enjoy gluing related magazine pictures to the front of the folder (showing sun, clouds, snow, etc.). On the front of the file folder, write “Seasons” (or “Words about Seasons”) as the title.

  • Younger children’s word banks can be pretty general, such as Seasons, Plants, Animals, or Ocean.
  • Older kids may enjoy creating more specific word banks that go along with their studies, such as Land Forms, Weather, Trees, Mammals, or Tide Pools.
  • Teens’ word banks should be the most specific, as they zero in on even more focused topics, such as Storms, Conifers, Woodland Mammals, or Mollusks.

As they discover or think of related vocabulary, they can write the words on the inside of the file folder. Some students find it helpful to make columns by category and add specific terms under each appropriate heading.

For instance, a word bank about seasons could have columns for Spring, Summer, Fall (or Autumn), and Winter, while a word bank about mammals might be categorized by Carnivore, Herbivore, and Omnivore. 

Expand Your Word Bank

Word banks are cumulative, so encourage your kids to build them over time. They can grow their nature word banks in several ways.

1. Be General or Specific

Either make a fairly broad word bank (about biomes, for example), or create specific word banks about individual biomes such as Tundra or Desert.

A basic word list featuring bodies of water might expand into several separate word banks (like oceanspond habitats, or the Amazon). It’s always more meaningful to do this in conjunction with subjects you’re currently studying.

2. Commune with Nature

Visit a natural setting and collect nature words. Include plants, animals, and objects you can see. Listen for and jot down sounds of birds, water, and weather. Notice odors and fragrances that waft to your noses. Run your hands over surfaces and write down their textures.

3. Read about It

Collect brochures and pamphlets from nature centers, botanical gardens, visitor centers, aviary, or even your local nursery. Later, you can scour these resources for new words and add them to the word banks.

4. Forage Through Field Guides

Explore a field guide, nonfiction book, or nature website to find topical vocabulary words and terms about the subject.

5. Get Descriptive

Use a thesaurus to find interesting synonyms for common descriptive words like green, rough, or hot.

Write with Word Banks

Word banks make a great resource for students to draw from when they’re writing about a specific topic. Most students (younger and more reluctant writers in particular) can find it challenging to include specific details in their writing. Their new word banks will help them use precise and vivid vocabulary. And as a parent, you’ll be thrilled to see your kids using less-familiar words without constantly asking you how to spell them! This helps promote independent writing, especially in younger children.

Whether you store the word banks in an expandable file folder or punch holes and insert them in a binder, keep them handy so they’re accessible and, therefore, more likely to get used.

Pull out the word games for activities such as these:

  • Preparing a science or nature report
  • Describing a geological feature or phenomenon of nature
  • Summarizing a field trip experience
  • Writing stories that include descriptions of outdoor spaces, scenery, or weather
  • Creating poetry (It’s fun, for example, to introduce onomatopoeia when discussing nature sounds like  the “boom!” of thunder or the “crackle” of leaves. Invite your children to write their own individual poems, using their word bank as a resource.
  • Writing vocabulary-rich sentences about a science or nature topic you’re learning about (perfect for younger learners)

How else do you use word banks?

Photo: GerryT, courtesy of Creative Commons
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