Entries from April 2014 ↓

Shakespeare journal prompts

High School students can bring literary characters to life with creative Shakespeare journal prompts.

GREAT actors use many techniques to get inside the minds of their characters. With these Shakespeare journal prompts, high schoolers can learn firsthand how writing helps actors bring characters to life!

1. Fairy Antics

You are the mischievous fairy Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. You just learned that you applied a love potion to the wrong young man, and now two men are pursuing the same woman! Journal about your reactions to your mistake. Are you a little bit sorry? Are you looking forward to a day of entertaining mix-ups? Are you confident you can fix your mistake?

2. Midnight Meeting

In the first scene of Hamlet, two night guards convince Horatio to watch for a ghost who resembles the dead king. When the ghost appears, Horatio commands it to speak. You are Horatio. Write about your thoughts when you first call to the ghost. Are you truly afraid or simply curious? Do you believe in ghosts, or do you suspect the guards are playing tricks on you?

3. Word Games

When the English King Henry courts the French princess Katherine in King Henry V, he speaks very little French and she speaks very little English. You are Katherine. Journal about your thoughts during your conversation with your future husband. Are you shy, hopeful, or confused? Do you use all your language skills, or do you pretend to know less English than you really do?

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

Photo: Brian Wright, courtesy of Creative Commons

Letters of encouragement

Help kids write cheerful, encouraging letters!

By Daniella Dautrich

BEFORE April flies away, we want to highlight National Card and Letter Writing Month! It’s a great time to remind your kids how to format a letter (heading, greeting, body, and closing) with the friendly letter boogie. And, if you’re out shopping, grab a few art and stationery supplies so your kids can design and write homemade birthday cards or creative pen-pal letters.

If you and your family sit down to write a few cards and notes this week, take some time to think about people who could especially use a letter of encouragement. We all know someone in a challenging season of life. You can teach your children to write uplifting, cheerful messages to friends and relatives with these easy tips!

Thinking of You

Ask your child to think of someone who might need an extra ray of sunshine in their day. Maybe you know a:

  • High school student worried about exams.
  • Friend who recently moved to a new town.
  • Widow who can no longer drive to visit her children and grandchildren.

When your child picks a recipient for her “thinking of you” letter, offer her a choice of brightly colored stationery and note cards. Now, it’s time to brainstorm for ideas, such as:

  • A funny story about something that recently happened in your family.
  • An interesting book you enjoyed and your thoughts / recommendation.
  • A recipe you tried and how the dish turned out.

Decorate the finished letter or envelope with stickers, drawings, or funny cartoons. These are always sure to bring a smile!

Get Well Soon

It shouldn’t be hard to think of someone under the weather who would perk up when a letter arrives in the mail. Do you know:

  • An athletic child or teen who is home on crutches?
  • Someone recovering from surgery?
  • A friend who missed a weekly activity (church, sports practice, club meeting, etc.) because they were sick?
  • An elderly friend who doesn’t feel well?

Handwritten notes don’t have to be long to boost a friend’s spirits. Besides the obvious “I’m sorry you’re sick” and “get well soon” lines, your child can be creative and include other encouraging tidbits, such as:

  • A Bible verse or short poem.
  • A recommendation for a song or movie you think they might enjoy.
  • Ideas for activities you can do together when they get well.

After the note is signed, include a tea bag, a pressed flower, or a favorite photograph. Your friend will appreciate these little gifts while they recover from injury or illness.

I’m Sorry

Sometimes, we realize too late that we’ve hurt someone else’s feelings. Has your child ever embarrassed a friend accidentally? Forgotten to include another child in a group game or activity? Help her understand which kind of situations are best forgotten or left alone, and which call for a phone call or letter of apology.

If you decide that a letter is appropriate, help your daughter or son write a sincere, heartfelt note:

  • Begin by explaining why you’re sorry.
  • Tell how much you love / value / respect them, and what their friendship means to you.
  • Express your hope for the relationship (forgiveness, continued friendship, etc.).

Letters of encouragement come in all shapes and sizes, for many seasons and situations in life. Model good letter-writing habits for your children, and soon they’ll look forward to expressing themselves in creative, memorable ways.

Photo: Pete, courtesy of Creative Commons

Minecraft writing prompts

Minecraft writing prompts that will inspire kids to describe, make lists, compare and contrast, and write diary entries {via WriteShop}

Put an educational spin on your kids’ favorite sandbox game with a creative writing activity. I’m willing to bet these Minecraft writing prompts will spark enthusiasm in the most reluctant writer!

1. Reap What You Sow

As a Minecraft crop farmer, you’re getting tired of beets, potatoes, and carrots. If you could sow three brand-new crops, what would you choose to grow? Explain what you will have to do to harvest your new crops.

2. The Choice is “Mine”

Do you prefer playing Minecraft in Survival mode or Creative mode? Write one or two paragraphs explaining your reasons. Before you start writing, make a Venn diagram that compares and contrasts these two modes.

3. Toolbelt Tactics

Would you rather build a castle, a tree house, or a bridge? Describe the Minecraft tools, materials, and supplies you will need to accomplish your goal.

4. Dear Diary

A website is sponsoring a Minecraft writing contest and awarding a prize of 2000 gold nuggets to the winner.

  1. Write a diary or journal entry describing your most exciting Minecraft adventure.
  2. Record your entry using Minecraft’s Book and Quill.
  3. You may include up to three entries in your diary.

5. Making a House a Home

It’s time to decorate your Minecraft house! Make a list of 10 structural features you want to include, such as wood floors or a glass roof. Then make a list of 10 decorating ideas, such as lighting and furniture.

More Minecraft Writing Prompts to tempt even the most reluctant writer!If your kids have enjoyed these Minecraft activities, follow the link to another fun set of Minecraft writing prompts. Also, be sure to check back each week for more Writing Prompt Wednesdays!

Image: Linus Bohman, courtesy of Creative Commons

Kids’ poetry activities from Pinterest

Delightful poetry activities from Pinterest appeal to all ages! Ideas include art projects, poetry notebooks, and poetry resources,

Pinterest is filled with resources, tips, and ideas to use in your homeschool. Since April is National Poetry Month, what better time to share a few favorite poetry activities from our Pinterest Poetry Board? While reading and listening to poems, creating poetry notebooks, and learning about poetic devices, your kids’ interest in poetry will surely grow!

Most of these can be used with all ages, from elementary through high school.

1. Paint Chip Poetry

Start by gluing words from magazines onto paint chip pieces (or just writing the words on the chips). Then set your kids loose making poems from the word chips. They can arrange and rearrange to their hearts’ delight until they’ve created the perfect paint chip poem.

Delightful poetry activities from Pinterest appeal to all ages! Ideas include art projects, poetry notebooks, and poetry resources,

Paint Chip Poetry

2. Poetic Devices Mini Book

Teaching poetic devices? You’ll love these free Figures of Speech mini posters to download and print.

Delightful poetry activities from Pinterest appeal to all ages! Ideas include art projects, poetry notebooks, and poetry resources,

Poetic Devices Minibook

3. RhymeZone

RhymeZone, an online rhyming dictionary, helps kids find rhyming words, “near” rhymes, and rhymes by number of syllables. It’s a great resource when they’re trying to find just the right word for their verse!

Delightful poetry activities from Pinterest appeal to all ages! Ideas include art projects, poetry notebooks, and poetry resources,

4. Five Fabulous Features of Children’s Poetry

Explore poetry with fun listening activities that help your children identify five exciting features of poetry:

  • onomatopoeia
  • rhyme
  • repetition
  • alliteration
  • poetic devices such as metaphors and personification

It’s an entertaining way for newbies to dip their toes into the unfamiliar waters of poetry.

Delightful poetry activities from Pinterest appeal to all ages! Ideas include art projects, poetry notebooks, and poetry resources,

5 Features of Children’s Poetry

5. Popcorn Poetry! Repetition and Onomatopoeia

Pop! Bang! Zing! Work on poetic elements of repetition and onomatopoeia using popcorn as the springboard. This activity is especially fun for your youngest poets!

Delightful poetry activities from Pinterest appeal to all ages! Ideas include art projects, poetry notebooks, and poetry resources,

Popcorn Poetry

6. How to Keep a Poetry Notebook

Creating and maintaining a poetry notebook is a wonderful way to help children and teens appreciate poetry. Their notebooks can contain poems they write themselves, verses they copy onto specialty papers, poets’ biographies, and more.

Delightful poetry activities from Pinterest appeal to all ages! Ideas include art projects, poetry notebooks, and poetry resources,

Keeping a Poetry Notebook

7. “I Am” Poems

Art and poetry meet in these colorful, eye-catching pieces—a beautiful way for kids to identify their best character qualities. 

Delightful poetry activities from Pinterest appeal to all ages! Ideas include art projects, poetry notebooks, and poetry resources,

“I Am” Poems

You might also enjoy 8 writing ideas from Pinterest (mostly for elementary grades) and 7 Pinterest ideas for high school writing. Be sure to follow all of our great Pinterest boards for loads of writing, teaching, and homeschooling ideas!

Photos used by permission from the original source.

Poem in Your Pocket | Free Printable

April 24th  is Poem in Your Pocket Day! What a great reason to throw a poetry party, plan a poetry craft, commit a favorite poem to memory, or write your own piece of prose! To help celebrate this literary holiday, we have created a Poem in Your Pocket free printable, which includes some our very favorite poems.

Free Printable Poems

This poetry printable contains 9 public domain poems for you to print out and use. You can roll up one poem like a scroll and place in your pocket, cut out all the pages and staple them together to create a poem booklet, or glue a poem or two onto a craft project. And because these poems are short, any one of them would also be perfect to memorize.

Free printable with 9 delightful, kid-friendly poems to clip or memorize. Perfect for Poem in Your Pocket Day!

Click the image above to download the “Poem in Your Pocket” printable. If you would like to share this poetry printable with others, link to this post. Do not link directly to the PDF file. Feel free to print this PDF file for your own personal use. Please do not sell or host these files anywhere else.

Additional Poem in Your Pocket Resources

How will you be celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day? 

Writing prompts from the life of Christ

Writing prompts from the life of Christ can help kids dig deeper in their faith!

As we prepare our hearts for Easter, we read the Gospels and remember the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Help your kids dig deeper in their faith with these writing prompts from the life of Christ.

1. Consider the Lilies

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that our Heavenly Father does not want us to spend our lives worrying. Write a paragraph about how worrying never solves problems.

2. Praying Always

Even when He was tired or busy, Jesus always made prayer His highest priority. Write a poem about different times and places you can pray. Your poem should be four to eight lines and each line must begin with a preposition (such as “around,” “before,” “between,” “under,” and “until”). Your preposition poem does not need to rhyme.

3. A Servant’s Heart

Jesus demonstrated humility when He left heaven to be born in a stable, when He shared a meal with unpopular tax collectors, and when He washed the disciples’ feet.  Make a list of ways you can show humility this week. Remember, humility is the character quality that helps us see other people as more important than ourselves.

4. Almighty King

When Jesus Christ rose to life after three days in the grave, He proved that He was no ordinary man–He is the King who rules over all. Make a word bank of nouns, adjectives, and verbs that remind of you of this King. (If you need a few ideas, read Isaiah 9:6-7.)

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

Photos: Liz West (lily), Image Editor (hands), Trevor Leyenhorst (feet), and Jason Train (crown), courtesy of Creative Commons

Easter writing activities

Kids (and teens) can write testimonies and prayers or make a Scripture collage with these Easter writing activities

EACH YEAR, Easter brings wonderful reminders of God’s love and redemption, and the promise of new life and hope. Take some time this week to help your kids reflect on these themes with our list of Easter writing activities.

Write a Prayer


Help your child start a prayer journal. Perhaps the two of you can pick out a new notebook from the office supply store. Maybe your crafty kid would rather make her own journal from paper, cardstock, and cloth she finds lying around the house. When the little book is ready, ask her to write her name and a favorite Bible verse on the first page.

Encourage your child to write an entry in her prayer journal every day. (Quiet times first thing in the morning or in the afternoon may work best.) These prayers can include specific requests or short lists of things she’s thankful for. During Holy Week, you might ask her to write different prayers that begin, “Dear Jesus, I love you because….”

High School

Ask your teen to write a heartfelt prayer that follows the model of the Lord’s Prayer. Begin with praise and adoration; continue with humble requests for physical or spiritual needs. Move into confession of sins, and thank the Lord for His forgiveness, strength, and guidance. End with a final expression of praise (“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen”).

Reassure your older child that no one else will read this prayer unless he wants to share it. If he feels comfortable, allow him to read or paraphrase his special prayer at the family table on Easter Sunday.

Write a Testimony


Ask your child to interview an older Christian, perhaps a sibling, parent, or neighbor. The child should ask to hear this person’s testimony—the story of how they gave their life to Christ. When, where, and why did this person become a Christian? When your child is finished listening and taking notes, he should neatly and concisely write the story down.

High School

Ask your teen to write his own testimony. Beside the basic facts such as when and where he gave his life to Christ, he should include other details that express the heart of his faith.

  • How my life has changed because of my relationship with Jesus Christ
  • Ways my life is set apart from the world and devoted to my Savior
  • How God has helped me endure ridicule or persecution for my faith

Make a “Good Seed” Collage

After a long, cheerless winter, the fresh buds and greenery of spring remind us how the Lord Jesus died and was buried and came back to life. Bursting with color, spring reminds us that a heart touched by grace can always be reborn.

Ask your kids to gather verses and stories from the Bible about seeds and plants. After they work on their lists individually, they can work together to create a poster collage of verses and pictures. This would make a beautiful decoration for Easter, and a wonderful surprise to send home with grandparents, aunts, or uncles!

The Bible abounds with verses and parables about things that grow! Here are a few to get you started:

  • David’s song about the man who is like a tree by rivers of water (Psalm 1)
  • The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13)
  • Jesus’ teaching about the vine and the branches (John 15)

From our families to yours, may you have a blessed, joyful Easter!

WriteShop Blog--In Our Write Minds

Daniella Dautrich is a WriteShop alumna and a graduate of Hillsdale College. She and her husband fill their home with books on writing, literature, and computer science. Daniella also blogs at www.waterlilywriter.com.

Photo: Daren, courtesy of Creative Commons

Writing prompts about robots

Robots that clean your house? Medical nanobots that swim through the body? Get kids excited about science with these robot-themed writing prompts!

WE’RE CELEBRATING the spirit of innovation in honor of National Robotics Week! Get your kids excited about science with these writing prompts about robots.

1. Meet Harvey & Simon

Choose one of the real-world robots from this set of free trading cards. Write a story about this amazing machine, using at least three of the following phrases: slippery slope, wild stampede, medal of honor, heat wave, orphan boy, computer hacker, and user manual.

2. Clean Sweep

A ladies’ magazine has announced a contest for the best original robot to help with a household chore. Describe your entry and the ways it will make housekeeping easier.

3. Life and Death Lists

In science fiction, The Three Laws of Robotics begin with this rule: A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. Make a list of books, movies, and comic strips that follow this rule. Make a second list of stories that break the rule. Which are your favorites?

4. Invisible Friends

Today’s medical engineers are developing nanobots small enough to travel through the human bloodstream. These tiny robots can carry medicines to hard-to-reach areas of the body such as brain tissues. Imagine you are a medical nanobot, and write a journal entry about a day in your life.

5. The Workforce of Tomorrow

In your opinion, should we develop robots to replace human jobs in factories, warehouses, and fast food restaurants? Why or why not?

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

Photo: Don DeBold, courtesy of Creative Commons

5 fabulous features of children’s poetry

Teach kids to listen for these features of children's poetry: onomatopoeia, repeated sounds, repeated words, rhyme, and figurative language.

This article contains affiliate links for books I’m confident your family will love!

In honor of National Poetry Month, I invite you to open up the world of poetry to your children by exploring a favorite anthology and listening for elements that make poetry come to life! Today we’re going to take a peek at onomatopoeia, repetition of sounds, repetition of words, rhyme, and figurative language.

Discovering Children’s Poetry

I practically cut my teeth on Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses. Our bookshelves at home were well-stocked with volumes of poetry, both classical and modern. I knew Longfellow, Dickinson, and Chaucer, but somehow, except for that dear Stevenson book (and a hefty dose of Dr. Seuss!), I never really discovered children’s poetry.

Random House Book of PoetryA children’s literature class in college changed all that, exposing me to this delightful genre through the works of Christina Rossetti, Walter de la Mare, Rachel Field, and others.

Years later, I stumbled across The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (now dog-eared and tattered from loving use). Compiled by Jack Prelutsky, this anthology is filled with classic and contemporary poems children love.

Many nights, the girls would snuggle in bed as I introduced them to Myra Livingston Cohn, Eve Merriam, and other poets who wove tiny tapestries from vibrant words and figurative language. They loved the whimsical, fanciful, and often-humorous poems we would read together at bedtime!

Introducing Poetry to Children

Children’s poems excite the senses and imagination with literary devices, vivid vocabulary, and the pure joy of words. A good poem usually features several poetic devices. As you read aloud to your kids, help them listen for these fabulous features.

1. Listen for Onomatopoeia

Onomatopoeia is a word that imitates a sound. Invite your kids to listen for words like buzz, gulp, swish, oink, clink, and bang. “Fishes’ Evening Song” by Dahlov Ipcar is filled with examples of onomatopoea, making the poem especially fun to read aloud.

Water falls
Drop by drop,
Plip plop,
Drip drop,
Plink plunk,
Splash splish…

2. Listen for Repeated Sounds

Alliteration results when words that appear close together share the same beginning sound. Your kids will enjoy listening for examples of alliteration, such as Christmas cake for a clatter of kids or Brighter than a blossom / Thinner than a thread.

A form of alliteration known as consonance focuses on the same consonant sound in the middle or end of a word, as in Jasmine’s bees went crazy / When the mower cut the flower.

“Sing Me a Song” by N. M. Bodecker is not only loaded with examples of alliteration and consonance, it’s just pure fun to recite!

Sing me a song
of teapots and trumpets:
Trumpots and teapets
And tippets and taps,
trippers and trappers
and jelly bean wrappers
and pigs in pajamas
with zippers and snaps…

3. Listen for Repeated Words

Repetition in poetry is pleasant to the ear, making it a common occurrence in children’s poems. Not only can poems contain repeated sounds, they also can contain repeated words. Here’s a fun example: Whether the weather be fine / Or whether the weather be not Whether the weather be cold / Or whether the weather be hot …

Along with alliteration and consonance, Karla Kuskin uses word repetition in her poem “Spring.”

I’m shouting
I’m singing
I’m swinging through trees
I’m winging sky-high
With the buzzing black bees.
I’m the sun
I’m the moon
I’m the dew on the rose.
I’m a rabbit
Whose habit
Is twitching his nose…

4. Listen for Rhyme

Poetry doesn’t have to rhyme, but many poems do. Train your kids’ ears to listen for lines that end in the same sound.

Couplets feature two rhyming lines in a row, as in “Eletelephony” by Laura E. Richards. This rhyming pattern is called AABB.

Once there was an elephant,
Who tried to use the telephant
No! No! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone

Sometimes, every other line in a poem will rhyme, as in James Stephens’s “The White Window.” This rhyming pattern is called ABAB.

The Moon comes every night to peep
Through the window where I lie:
But I pretend to be asleep;
And watch the Moon go slowly by

In other poems, only the second and fourth lines might rhyme, as in “The Morns Are Meeker Than They Were” by Emily Dickinson. This rhyming pattern is called ABCB.

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown,
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town

5. Listen for Figurative Language

Poetry leaves no room for dull, boring words. Through a poet’s use of descriptive language, your children will be able to picture a poem’s colors, sounds, and textures. Similes, metaphors, and personification are examples of figurative language. Figurative language contains images that compare one thing to something else.

Similes compare two things that are basically different but have strong similarities. Similes compare by saying “this is like that.” They use LIKE or AS to make the comparison. May Swenson uses a simile in “The Woods at Night.”

The binocular owl
fastened to a limb
like a lantern

Like similes, metaphors also compare two unlike things, but without the words LIKE or AS. Metaphors simply say “this is that.” In “All Kinds of Time,” Harry Behn writes metaphorically about time.

Seconds are bugs
minutes are children
hours are people
days are postmen

And in this example of personification, James Stephens’s poem “Check” makes Night seem like a mysterious woman.

The Night was creeping on the ground!
She crept, and did not make a sound
Until she reached the tree: And then
She covered it, and stole again.
Along the grass beside the wall!
—I heard the rustling of her shawl
As she threw blackness everywhere
Along the sky, the ground, the air…

Children’s poetry is a delight to the senses. I hope you jump right in—a wonderful world of words awaits!

Image: Guy Evans, courtesy of Creative Commons

Free Printable Spring Writing Prompt

Sharpen your storytelling skills with this month’s free printable writing prompt! How many words from the list can you include in your springtime tale?

Spring printable writing prompt from WriteShop

Click the image above to download the “Spring Storytelling” writing prompt. If you would like to share this spring writing prompt with others, link to this post. Do not link directly to the PDF file. Feel free to print this PDF file for your own personal use. Please do not sell or host these files anywhere else.

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

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