Entries Tagged 'Holiday & Seasonal Ideas' ↓

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

Enough | Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at WriteShop!

Photo: Ajari, 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

Creative writing prompts for autumn

Creative writing prompts for autumn invite kids to write an autumn acrostic, create a fall wish list, or devise a plan to keep winter from coming!
Each season brings the opportunity for fresh new writing experiences. These four creative writing prompts for autumn invite kids to imagine what it would be like to wake up in the future, write an autumn acrostic poem, create a fall wish list, or devise a plan to keep winter from coming!

1. A Long Nap

In the famous story by Washington Irving, Rip Van Winkle escapes to the mountains. While there, he has a strange encounter with a group of ancient, bearded men who are playing a game of ninepins (bowling). Rip falls asleep, but when he wakes up, he finds that 20 years have passed! Write a story in which you wake up in a pile of autumn leaves. How much time has gone by? What is your last memory? How has the world changed?

2. Autumn Wish List

A bucket list is a wish list of things you would like to experience in your lifetime. What parts of the country (or world) would be spectacular at this time of year? Where would you like to visit? What sorts of fall activities would you like to do? Make an autumn bucket list that includes 5-10 things you want to do in the fall at some point in your life.

3. No Winter for Me

Last winter was bitter and harsh across much of the United States, and many people are not at all looking forward to this coming winter. Write a funny story telling about three things your main character will do to try to keep winter from arriving.

4. A is for Autumn

Write an acrostic poem about autumn:

  • Vertically on your paper, write the word “AUTUMN.” (Younger children can write “FALL.”) For an extra challenge, write “FALL SEASON” or “AUTUMN DAYS.”
  • Next to each letter, write a word, phrase, or sentence related to the season. Think about weather, colors, holidays, and family activities. (For example, “A” could be Autumn, Apple picking, or Acorns drop from mighty oak trees.)

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

Photos: Jamie McCaffrey (leaf and sky), Bruce McKay (girl), Michael Gil (leaf angel), courtesy of Creative Commons

Writing Prompts for Grandparents Day

These writing prompts for Grandparents Day help kids celebrate their grandmas and grandpas with cinquain poems, lists, and descriptive paragraphs.

Did you know there’s a national holiday celebrating grandparents? Whether they’re called Grandma and Grandpa, Nana and Papa, Mamaw and Papaw, Moo-Moo and Dabbadoo, or any one of a hundred-plus nicknames kids have come up with for your folks, Grandparents Day is as good an excuse as any to reflect on the special place they hold in your hearts.

Grandparents Day always falls on the first Sunday after Labor Day. Make a point this year of helping your children count their “grandparently” blessings. These writing prompts for Grandparents Day are a great place to start!

1. Remember When

Think of a special memory you share with your grandparents. Take a mental snapshot of that memory so you can remember all the details. Now write a description of that time, making sure to use sensory words (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) and emotion words that tell how you felt.

2. If I Were You

One day, you’ll probably be a grandparent! Make a list of 10 things you would do with your grandchild.

3. In My Heart

Write a letter to a grandparent telling them what you appreciate about them and why they’re special to you. Mail it so it arrives in time for Grandparents Day!

4. Uniquely You

Not all grandparents are the same. Some are active and on the go. They might golf, play Scrabble, go to concerts, or fix old cars. Other grandparents are more relaxed. They like to watch TV, read, or take lots of naps. Write a paragraph describing one of your grandparents and telling what they like to do.

5. Poem for Papa

Use this guide to write a cinquain poem about one or both of your grandparents. Next, make a greeting card for Grandparents Day. Copy your cinquain poem into the card and decorate it with stickers, markers, or glitter.

Did you enjoy these writing ideas? If so, be sure to check back each week for more Writing Prompt Wednesdays!

6 beach-themed writing prompts

These beach themed writing prompts will help kids make up stories, plan a seaside tea party menu, choose a crab's new house, or make three wishes!

Whether you live near the coast or far inland, nothing says “summertime” like the beach! Gather your kids around the table for some summer writing fun, using these beach themed writing prompts as a jumping-off point. They’ll love creating imaginative stories, planning menus for a doll’s tea party, or choosing a new home for a crab.

1. The House that Herb Built

Herb the Hermit Crab has outgrown his shell. In his search for a new place to live, he comes across a plastic cup, a tin can, and a large, empty snail shell. Which one will he choose for his new home? Explain your answer.

2. On the Morning Tide

On a morning beach stroll, you stumble upon an unusual item that has washed ashore. Write a paragraph telling what is it, where it came from, and whether you will keep it or throw it back into the ocean.

3. Ocean Overtures

Describe the ocean using all five senses. What color is the water? How does it move? What sounds do you hear? How does ocean spray feel and taste? If you have never been to the ocean, use your imagination! Or, with a parent, you can watch some of these short ocean video clips:

Waves Crashing on Rocky Beach

Birds Flying Over the Ocean

Thailand Sea

Sunny Oregon Coast

Turquoise Waves on a California Beach

4. Digging Deeper

Write a short story beginning with this line: My jaw dropped when a tiny voice at the edge of my shovel said, “Don’t hurt me!”

5. Genie of the Shell

At a beachside souvenir shop, you buy a beautiful golden shell. As you polish the shell to remove some crusted sand, a genie suddenly pops out to grant you three wishes! His only condition is that each wish must bless someone other than you. Who will benefit from your wishes? Explain what you will wish for, and why.

6. I’ll Have a Sand-wich

You are a restaurant owner who has been hired to cater a doll’s tea party. Create a beach-themed summer menu for the party guests using only items you might find at the seashore. Give each dish a descriptive name, such as “Mixed Seaweed Salad in Clam Shells.” Include each of the following on your menu: Appetizer, Soup, Salad, Main Course, Dessert, and Beverage.

Did you enjoy these writing ideas? If so, be sure to check back each week for more Writing Prompt Wednesdays!

Photo Credit: Bill Sutton, courtesy of Creative Commons.

4 Independence Day activities for middle school kids

Independence Day activities for middle school kids include focusing on our freedoms, writing an adventure, making family flags and planning a party

July 4th is just around the corner! For holiday fun, here are four simple Independence Day activities for middle school kids. (There’s a good chance your other children will enjoy them too!) This week, why not try one or two on for size?

1. Make a “Freedoms” Chain

In many countries, people don’t enjoy the same liberties as most Americans. This activity will help you reflect on the many freedoms and choices you have as a citizen of the United States.

  1. Cut red, white, and blue construction paper into strips approximately 1” x 8”. On each strip, write one freedom you’re thankful for, such as: I’m free to read books of my choice.
  2. Roll one strip of paper into a circle and tape or staple the ends together.
  3. Loop the next strip of paper through the circle to form the next link in your chain.
  4. Keep going until your chain is as long as you want. (If you want a longer chain, but you’ve run out of word strips, you may add plain paper strips to your chain.)
  5. Hang up your chain. Each day, read one of your freedoms—and be thankful!

2. Write Your Own Adventure

Write a story about an unexpected 4th of July adventure. Use at least six of the following words:

baseball, home run, disappeared, fireworks, hot dog, foul ball, surprise, famous, explosion, stadium, mistake, sister

3. Design a Family Flag

Did you know that flag colors have special meanings?

Red can mean courage, change, strength, or heroism
Yellow can represent honor, loyalty, or humility
Green can be symbolic of hope, growth, or fruitfulness
Blue can mean freedom, justice, wisdom, good fortune, or patriotism
Black can mean determination, grief, or sorrow
White often represents peace, purity, harmony, or faith
Purple isn’t often found in national flags, but it is known as the color of royalty or sacrifice

Take some time to learn about the meaning of the colors and symbols in the American flag, and then make a flag of your own!

  1. On a sheet of white paper, design and color a flag that represents your family.
  2. Include shapes and images that have special meaning. You can use traditional shapes such as a cross, stars, or stripes; objects from nature such as leaves, trees, or mountains; animals; vehicles; outline of your state; or other symbols.
  3. Using separate lined paper, explain what each symbol and color says about your family.

4. Plan a Celebration!

For many families, July 4th means celebrating our nation’s independence at backyard barbecues, patriotic parades, or picnics at the lake. Some gather on front lawns at dusk to eat homemade ice cream and twirl sparklers, while others take in baseball games and fireworks shows.

If it were up to you to plan this year’s Independence Day festivities, where would you have your party? Whom would you invite? What foods would you eat? Would you plan activities?

Either jot your ideas in list form or write a one-page sensory description of your holiday celebration. This Independence Day word bank will help!

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