Writing activity centers: Part 4

Writing activity centers are a great way to reinforce the formal composition skills you’re teaching in your curriculum. They’ll give your kids more practice writing in a fun, relaxed setting. In the last of our four-part series, you’ll find just a few more fun ideas to use during writing time.

Mandarin Autumn

Picture Files

Keep file folders of colorful prints, magazine pictures, and calendar photos sorted by topic: animals, people, nature, buildings, and the like. Have each child choose a picture for inspiration and write a short story based upon the picture.

Songwriting Challenge

Provide a selection of index cards with a word written on each card. Each child draws one card at a time, until all the cards are drawn. Now, each child will write a song or jingle using all the words they’ve drawn. Work out melodies and rhythms and entertain one another with a performance!

Now Hiring!

Provide sample résumés for this writing activity center. Allow your children time to study the résumés for ideas and formats. Here’s one to get you started, but you can find many other examples online by doing a Google search.

Have your kids put together a résumé of their lives. What should be included? What jobs might they be interested in, now and in the future? What information would they want their future employers to know? Remind the children to consider those questions as they write their résumés.

Noun Safari

Keep available a selection of magazines, glue sticks or tape, construction paper, and scissors. Ask children to look through the magazines, searching for nouns. Cut out the nouns and glue them to construction paper. Later, select a noun from one of the noun pages, and use that specific noun as the basis for a story.

Related Posts: Writing Activity Centers: Part 1, Writing Activity Centers: Part 2, Writing Activity Centers: Part 3

. . . . .

Janet Wagner is a regular contributor to In Our Write Minds. For over two decades, Janet was an elementary and middle school teacher in two Christian academies, a public district school, and a public charter school. She also had the honor of helping to homeschool her two nieces. Janet and her husband Dean live on the family farm in the Piedmont region of north central North Carolina. Currently, she enjoys a flexible life of homemaking, volunteering, reading, writing, tutoring students and training dogs, and learning how to build websites. You can view her web work-in-progress at www.creative-writing-ideas-and-activities.com.

Creative Commons photo: Art G. courtesy of Flickr. Used with permission.

WriteShop Junior Book D winner

?

Thanks to everyone who entered to win a complete WriteShop Junior Book D curriculum package!

The winner is . . .

Comment #9: Jennifer!

Congratulations, Jennifer! You are the first official owner of WriteShop Junior Book D. How sweet is that? Check your email for info about claiming your prize.

For those who didn’t win, make sure you join our mailing list for WriteShop News, as that is the ONLY way you can get a FREE Time-Saver Pack ($13.95 value) with your purchase of Book D. 

Subscribe to WriteShop News

Sign up right away! The preorder email is going out on Saturday, October 29.

~Kim

Writing activity centers: Part 3

Writing activity centers are a great way to reinforce the formal composition skills you’re teaching in your curriculum. They’ll give your kids more practice writing in a fun, relaxed setting. Today’s post, the third in our series, offers more great ideas for inspiring your young writers.

rainforest

Rain Forest Review

Collect a basket of items related to the world’s rain forests: nonfiction books, magazines, posters, and advocacy materials. Have the children read and browse through these materials, learning more about the importance of rainforests. Ask each child to write a simple paragraph or two about their discoveries, complete with illustrations, and share their knowledge with family members.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Provide small construction paper booklets. On each page, have younger children draw pictures of the very special events in their lives. Ask them to write a few sentences to accompany each picture.

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

Fill a basket or box with recent local and national newspapers. Read through a number of articles together for ideas on the content and format of news stories. Provide newsprint, colored pencils, and colored paper. With your children, create a family newspaper. Mail it to Grandma!

Vocabulary Web Contests

StrawberryIn the middle of a large sheet of paper, write a single noun, accompanied by an illustration. On the paper, each child takes turns writing down words that describe or are associated with the noun. For example, the word in the middle might be strawberry. Children would add words to the poster like tasty, red, squishy, snack, fruit, sweet, soft, or ice cream. The more words, the better!

Reader’s Theater

Provide a number of reader’s theater scripts for your children to read aloud, practicing oral expression and fluency. Choose a favorite script and continue the further adventures of the characters, writing the next act. For free scripts and ideas, start here:

Literary Journals

Encourage regular independent reading of novels and small chapter books. set aside a day each week to write and draw in special journals about the books your kids have chosen for “fun” reading.

Sell the Sequel!

Plan, draft, and write a sequel to a favorite novel. Which characters will appear in the sequel? What’s the new plot?

Related Posts: Writing Activity Centers: Part 1, Writing Activity Centers, Part 2

. . . . .

Janet Wagner is a regular contributor to In Our Write Minds. For over two decades, Janet was an elementary and middle school teacher in two Christian academies, a public district school, and a public charter school. She also had the honor of helping to homeschool her two nieces. Janet and her husband Dean live on the family farm in the Piedmont region of north central North Carolina. Currently, she enjoys a flexible life of homemaking, volunteering, reading, writing, tutoring students and training dogs, and learning how to build websites. You can view her web work-in-progress at www.creative-writing-ideas-and-activities.com.

WriteShop Junior Book D giveaway!

The long, long, L-O-N-G wait is almost over. Yes! WriteShop Junior Book D is at the printer, and we’ll begin taking preorders in just a few days. But before that happens, we want to do a fun giveaway and give you a chance to share the excitement.

A Peek at WriteShop Junior

Author Nancy I. Sanders has done it again! After creating the amazing WriteShop Primary series, Nancy has now written WriteShop Junior for upper-elementary students.

First in the series, Book D eases your 3rd-5th graders into writing. It exposes children to genre, fiction and nonfiction writing, and journal writing, and introduces exciting new brainstorming and editing tools that truly motivate young writers!

“To say that my sons were reluctant writers would be an understatement… [but] they progressed from ‘once upon a time, the end,’ to completing stories with a beginning, middle, and end.” –Rolayne, IN

“Book D was so easy to teach, I couldn’t possibly fail! The lessons were concise and fun, which made my reluctant writer start to come out of his shell. His writing skills have come a long way—and so have mine.” –Kelley, SD

Start with Book D if your child has not yet grasped punctuation or grammar skills and still needs help planning, organizing, and adding details to a story. (More reluctant 3rd graders should probably start with WriteShop Primary Book C.)

WriteShop Junior Components

1. Book D Teacher’s Guide (Required)

Easy-to-use lesson plans help you lead and guide your kiddos through the steps of the writing process.

2. Book D Activity Pack (Required)

This clever and convenient 2-pack* contains both the Student Worksheet Pack and the Level 1 Fold-N-Go™ Grammar Pack.

*Student Worksheet Pack: Activity pages your child will need to complete portions of each lesson. These worksheets introduce your child to writing skills such as brainstorming and self-editing.

“My son is enjoying the process, having fun, and looking forward to doing the activities each day. That’s a giant step for him!” – Teresa, WA

*Fold-N-Go™ Grammar Pack: Fun reference tools with simple exercises that introduce or review grammar rules and essential writing skills. Printed on brightly colored paper, pages are assembled inside a file folder to form 10 large flipbooks, one for each lesson in each WriteShop Junior book.

“Fold-N-Gos have been a wonderful opportunity to review and learn grammar concepts. If that weren’t enough, they’re fun and something my daughter looks forward to. I love that!” –Heidi, NY

3. Time-Saver Pack (Optional)

For parents and teachers who appreciate shortcuts, the Time-Saver Pack includes a number of sturdy, ready-made props for activities featured throughout Book D, such as game cards and spinners. If you prefer to make your own, you’ll find instructions for each activity in the Teacher’s Guide.

“Thank you so much for designing the cards and spinners. The less time I have to spend in prep, the more time we have for learning!” –Sandy, Texas

Enter the Giveaway!

We want to give one lucky winner a complete WriteShop Junior Book D curriculum package. Simply leave a comment below telling why you (or your children!) need Book D.

Details

  • The giveaway will be open until midnight EST Thursday October 27, 2011. Winner will be announced Friday October 28.
  • Share the love! You can get up to 3 extra entries by posting on Facebook, blogging, or tweeting a link to the giveaway. You must leave a separate comment for EACH entry (4 entries max per person). Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.
  • This giveaway is offered to US & Canada residents only.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
  • IMPORTANT: In order to enter the drawing, you must leave a comment on THIS post. To leave a comment, scroll to the bottom of the post. (If you are reading this via RSS, you will need to visit the actual blog to post a comment.)

Pre-order Book D and Get a FREE Gift!

Later this week, we will send a newsletter announcing pre-orders for Book D. WriteShop News subscribers who pre-order through the link in the email will receive a valuable BONUS item: the Book D Time-Saver Pack ($13.95 value)! Not a subscriber yet? Sign up for our newsletter here.

Learn more about Book D

Writing activity centers: Part 2

Writing activity centers are a great way to reinforce the formal composition skills you’re teaching in your curriculum. They’ll give your kids more practice writing in a fun, relaxed setting. Here’s the second post in our four-part series.

with her own two hands

Clay Creatures

Mold and sculpt figurines from modeling clay or dough. When they’re finished, write five words or phrases describing the figures.

Family Poetry Jam

Place books of poetry in a basket for examples and inspiration. Supply paper, pencils, and colored markers for your children to write poems about family members, topics of study, or any subject they wish. Use other poems as a guide or invent new formats. When finished, dim the lights, spread out comfortable pillows on the floor, and host a poetry reading. Serve milk and cookies!

[Kim says: Looking for a great poetry resource? The Random House Book of Poetry for Children has been our family’s favorite. Compiled by Jack Prelutsky, this anthology is a delightful collection of both classic and contemporary poems children love. My own well loved copy has literally fallen apart!]

The Further Adventures of…

Collect a set of picture books with interesting, appealing characters. Read a book aloud, and then continue the story on paper, with additional adventures of a favorite character. Create imaginary illustrations and colorful covers for these new tales.

Order, Order, Please!

Provide envelopes of pre-written sentence strips, each envelope containing the lines of a familiar poem. Have the kids work together to read the sentences and figure out the correct sequence of each poem. Provide copies of the poems for the kids to check their efforts.

Pasta Punctuation

Each child writes sentences on construction paper. Using a variety of pasta shapes such as elbow macaroni, orzo, and linguini, have the kids glue on the “punctuation” where necessary. The children should incorporate all the punctuation marks they’ve been taught to this point: periods, question marks, commas, quotation marks, exclamation marks, and/or apostrophes.

How Do You Do It?

Ask your children to think of experiences they’ve had in which they’ve learned to do something all by themselves. Perhaps it was the first time they rode a bike without training wheels, learned to tie their shoes, or did the laundry on their own. Ask them to write a set of directions teaching someone else how to do this specific action. Illustrate the directions to provide more details. Then, have each child “teach” another child using his or her instructional page.

“I’m Thinking of…”

Each child writes a very specific description of an object nearby, whether in the living room, kitchen, etc., without actually naming the object itself. When finished, read the descriptions aloud and see who can identify the items described.

Related Post: Writing Activity Centers: Part 1, Writing Activity Centers: Part 3

. . . . .

Janet Wagner is a regular contributor to In Our Write Minds. For over two decades, Janet was an elementary and middle school teacher in two Christian academies, a public district school, and a public charter school. She also had the honor of helping to homeschool her two nieces. Janet and her husband Dean live on the family farm in the Piedmont region of north central North Carolina. Currently, she enjoys a flexible life of homemaking, volunteering, reading, writing, tutoring students and training dogs, and learning how to build websites. You can view her web work-in-progress at www.creative-writing-ideas-and-activities.com.

Literacy fail

Apparently, someone at the Associated Press didn’t get the message?

. . . . .

Stop by every 1st, 3rd, and 5th Wednesday for a peek into the world of spelling, punctuation, or grammar gone wrong! (Well, most of those Wednesdays. I’ve been quite absent from the blog for a while, in case you hadn’t noticed! ~Kim)

Writing activity centers: Part 1

Baskets of Books

Writing activity centers are a great way to reinforce the formal composition skills you’re teaching in your curriculum. They’ll give your kids more practice writing in a fun, relaxed setting. Whether you create a basket of materials by the sofa or a stand alone writing desk in the family room, try these different learning center ideas.

Picture Book Mail

Place a collection of favorite picture books in a basket. Ask your child to read one or more of the books and then write a letter to one of the characters. What could she say in the letter? When finished, have your child place her letter in a decorated envelope, with a sticker for a stamp. Later, you can respond to the letter as the character your child wrote to!

“And Now, a Word From Our Sponsors”

Gather a variety of household items and place them in a box or basket. Ask each child to write out advertising copy and create a poster for a product. Why would folks want to buy this item? Remember to keep colored markers and construction paper close at hand, and encourage your kids to do rough drafts and sketches before they begin.

Character Diaries

At this center, have your children create the imaginary diaries of favorite characters from books or novels they’re reading. Design your own diaries or buy inexpensive ones from the store.

Round Robin Stories

Make available a timer and plenty of paper and pencils. Have each child begin to write a story based upon the same pre-selected prompt. (Visit Creative Writing Prompts for ideas, or use WriteShop StoryBuilders.) Set the timer for three minutes.

When finished, have the children exchange stories. Set the timer again for three minutes, and have each child begin adding to the story he or she just received. Write until the timer ends, and exchange papers again. Continue in this manner for several rounds of exchanging papers and adding content to everyone’s stories.

Let the original owner of each story read the resulting tale aloud, and enjoy the hilarity!

Silly Sentences

Ask each child to write a set number of sentences, some factual and some outright ridiculous.

  • A factual sentence might be: Cheetahs are the fastest land mammals.
  • A silly sentence might be: Cheetahs drive sports cars.

Remind kids to use correct capitalization and punctuation. When finished, have kids share their sentences with each other. Which are true? Which are false?

Self Portraits in Words

Using mirrors as guides, have your children draw pictures of themselves. Then ask your children how they would define themselves in words. What describing words would they use? Write those words on the paper, surrounding the self-portrait.

Family Portraits

Draw or paint portraits of each family member, including all the pets! Bind the pages together with a hole punch and yarn. Under the portrait, write a short one-paragraph description about each family member. Include information about characteristics, talents and interests, favorite activities, and more.

Related Post: Writing Activity Centers: Part 2

. . . . .

Janet Wagner is a regular contributor to In Our Write Minds. For over two decades, Janet was an elementary and middle school teacher in two Christian academies, a public district school, and a public charter school. She also had the honor of helping to homeschool her two nieces. Janet and her husband Dean live on the family farm in the Piedmont region of north central North Carolina. Currently, she enjoys a flexible life of homemaking, volunteering, reading, writing, tutoring students and training dogs, and learning how to build websites. You can view her web work-in-progress at www.creative-writing-ideas-and-activities.com.

Modeling the brainstorming process

Working together during writing trains children in good brainstorming habits and teaches them to THINK before they WRITE.

You may think of writing as a hands-off subject: just give a child a piece of paper and a writing prompt and let him at it, right?

Well, not always.

You see, writing is a subject that must be taught in order for most children to learn and improve. A schoolteacher stands at the chalkboard, demonstrates writing methods, and explains new concepts. As homeschoolers, we may not actually stand in front of the “class” to teach a lesson, but our kids still need us to model for them at each point along the way—including the brainstorming process.

MODELING

When you teach a child to make his bed or do his own laundry, first you show him, and then you do it together, before you expect him to complete the task on his own.

Working together like this during writing also trains children in good brainstorming habits. If you just hand them the worksheet and skip the part where you model various techniques on a larger writing surface, you’re missing a golden opportunity to teach them how to think before they write. Eventually, you can let the reins out a bit as they demonstrate their ability to follow instructions and brainstorm properly, but for now, make sure you’re working together.

THE PURPOSE OF BRAINSTORMING

Most children are simply not used to brainstorming. Unless they’ve been trained in the art of story planning, they’re much more likely to do one of two things when it’s time to write:

  • Freeze at the sight of the blank page and barely scrawl out a couple of weak sentences. The end result is little more than a mess of smudges and teardrops.
  • Try to move a massive swirl of ideas from head to paper but wind up losing their focus. They’re left with a rambling, disjointed story that has too many characters, irrelevant bits of storyline, and lots of rabbit trails.

(Yes? You have one of these children? I see you nodding your head!)

The goal of a brainstorming worksheet is simply to help jumpstart the writing. Graphic organizers aren’t meant for writing full sentences, but for writing lists of words and short phrases. As you discuss story ideas together and jot details on your larger example, your student can copy the ones he likes onto his own worksheet.

Later, when he refers to the worksheet during writing time, the list of concrete words and other details will jog his memory and keep his writing from taking tangents. Brainstorming keeps him on track.

HOW TO BRAINSTORM TOGETHER

Draw a large 9-grid on a whiteboard or other writing surface. Discuss ideas for the beginning of the story. On your large example, write down three details that could happen, one in each box. Talk about:

  • What could happen first to introduce the story;
  • What happens second; and
  • What happens next.

Have your child draw a quick stick-figure sketch in each box on his own worksheet that represents each of these details. He does not need to add words at this time, but if he does, he should just copy the simple details (again, not complete sentences) you’ve written on your chart.

Do the same for the middle of the story, jotting down very simple words/phrases that could happen first, second and third in the middle of the story.

For the ending, jot down what could happen first, next, and last to bring the story to a satisfying end.

If your student prefers not to draw pictures, that’s okay; he can write words. Just encourage him to write LISTS of words rather than complete sentences. (Brevity is key during brainstorming.) Then, he can flesh out his ideas when it’s time to write his story.

. . . . .

WriteShop Junior is a partnership between parent/teacher and student, because that’s how writing is best taught. Book D is the first in the series. You’ll love all the hands-on activities and tools, including a brainstorming worksheet and detailed instructions for each and every writing lesson.

Speak it, describe it, write it!

We’ve all experienced it. The blank page seems more foe than friend, whether we’re the ones facing that expanse of white or whether we’re encouraging our children to blast through writer’s block.

Sometimes oral descriptions can pave the way to written descriptions, gently opening kids to their own creativity. Try the following thinking game the next time your young ones protest, “But I don’t know what to say!”

See how many answers each child can think of for each item below. Keep an informal score for a friendly competition.

1.) Describe one thing you might see in a…

  • refrigerator
  • living room
  • closet
  • car

book shelf

2.) Describe two things you might find…

  • at the library
  • in a craft-supply store
  • on the playground
  • at an amusement park

park bench in autumn glow

3.) Describe something you see…

  • in the autumn
  • in the winter
  • at the beach
  • in a restaurant

Future - what will you bring me?

4.) Describe something you might wear…

  • in a rainstorm
  • to a costume party
  • on a snowy day
  • to play a sport

Now, have your children choose one of their oral responses and elaborate upon it in written words.

“Writer’s block? What writer’s block?” you’ll be mumbling to yourself, as the kids scribble away!

. . . . .

Janet Wagner is a regular contributor to In Our Write Minds. For over two decades, Janet was an elementary and middle school teacher in two Christian academies, a public district school, and a public charter school. She also had the honor of helping to homeschool her two nieces. Janet and her husband Dean live on the family farm in the Piedmont region of north central North Carolina. Currently, she enjoys a flexible life of homemaking, volunteering, reading, writing, tutoring students and training dogs, and learning how to build websites. You can view her web work-in-progress at www.creative-writing-ideas-and-activities.com.

Valley Home Educators Convention 2011 – Modesto, CA

We’re getting ready to wrap up this year’s convention schedule with our last conference of the summer, July 29-30 in Modesto, California.

Homeschooling families who live in California’s Central Valley will love the friendly, comfortable atmosphere of the Valley Home Educators Convention (VHE) at the Modesto Centre Plaza. Come be inspired and encouraged by some wonderful speakers, explore the curriculum hall, and enjoy the company of other homeschoolers.

Workshop

I hope you’ll join me (Kim ) for my exhibitor workshop: Inspiring Successful Writers

Vendor Booth

You’ll find our vendor booth in the main lobby again this year, so as you begin looking toward fall, it’s also the perfect time to stop by, ask questions, see what’s new, browse through WriteShop books in person, or pick up your free gift (while supplies last).

At the convention you can:

  • See our full line of WriteShop products
  • Purchase the newest WriteShop Primary books.
  • Take a peek at the soon-to-be-released WriteShop Junior Book D!
  • Learn how you can teach a WriteShop co-op class in your area.
  • Receive much-needed encouragement about teaching writing.

Visit the VHE website for workshop schedule, exhibit hall hours, and directions to the convention. See you there!

Related Posts with Thumbnails