Entries Tagged 'Holiday & Seasonal Ideas' ↓

Christmas writing prompt…with a compassionate twist

Unique Christmas writing prompt gets kids thinking about what it would be like to receive a gift when you have nothing of your own

AT THIS time of year, my husband and I always look forward to poring through the gift catalogs that come in the mail.

Not the “gimmee” catalogs from Macy’s or Target or Pottery Barn, but the catalogs that come from such worthy organizations as World Vision, Compassion, and Samaritan’s Purse, offering us a chance to buy a really special, greatly appreciated gift for a child or family in need.

In the past, we’ve given chickens and ducks, a goat, and even the gift of clean drinking water for life.

Compassionate Giving

As a family, look through one of these online catalogs, and prayerfully consider giving a unique Christmas gift:

  • Domestic animals not only provide a steady stream of eggs or milk, but also bring a bit of income from selling the extras.
  • 5 fruit trees can give a poverty-stricken family a fresh start in fruit-tree farming.
  • A new soccer ball can replace the rounded wad of trash used as a makeshift ball by barefoot boys.
  • Just $35 can buy 10 times that amount in life-saving medicines.
  • Garden seeds will grow into a harvest that can sustain a family.

Compassionate Writing

As you look for ways to stir compassion in your children’s hearts, here’s a related writing activity to try. Whether or not you’re able to participate in compassionate giving, this Christmas writing prompt will get your kids thinking about what it would be like to receive a gift when you have little or nothing of your own.

  1. Visit the Compassion or World Vision website and read about several children who need sponsors. Choose one as the basis for your story.
  2. Browse through one of their online catalogs and choose a gift you think this child’s family would like to receive.
  3. Write two paragraphs. In the first paragraph, describe what daily life is like for this child in your own words. You may write in first person (imagining yourself to be the child) or in third person (as an outside observer or narrator).
  4. In the second paragraph, describe the child’s reaction to receiving their special gift.

The very best gift of all would be to actually sponsor one of these sweet children as a family! We’ve sponsored children both through Compassion and World Vision, and it has been a tremendous experience for us. Once you’ve become sponsors, you and your children can develop and foster a warm relationship with your sponsored child (and build important writing skills!) through regular letter-writing.

Do you already sponsor a child? Share your experience in the comments!

Photo: Erik Hersman, courtesy of Creative Commons.

5 {fun} Thanksgiving writing prompts

5 Fun Thanksgiving Writing Prompts

IT CAN get pretty hectic around the house in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Instead of assigning your children their normal writing schoolwork, why not take a little break and let them choose one of these clever creative writing prompts? For added fun, have them read their stories after Thanksgiving dinner!

1. Gobble! Gobble! Tweet!

Imagine you are the Thanksgiving turkey. It is your good fortune to discover that the Farmer accidentally left the door to the house ajar. You sneak in unnoticed. Quickly, you find the computer and login to Twitter.

You have just enough time to type five tweets. What will you say to your followers in no more than 140 characters per tweet?

2. Invitation to Dinner

5 {fun} Thanksgiving writing prompts for kidsSuppose you can invite one special person, living or dead, to share your family’s Thanksgiving dinner this year. Would you choose a favorite relative who lives far away? A famous explorer you have studied in school? The Queen of England? Your best friend who moved away?

Think about who you would invite, and then write down 10 questions you would like to ask this person.

3. Thanksgiving Traditions

5 {fun} Thanksgiving writing prompts for kidsWhat does your family do for Thanksgiving? Do you host a big gathering at your house? Do you travel to another state to visit grandparents? Is Thanksgiving a small get-together, or is the house packed with friends and family? Who does the cooking? Does your family have traditions, such as playing games, watching football, or putting puzzles together?

Write about how you spend Thanksgiving, describing the sights, sounds, flavors, and aromas of the day. Use this Thanksgiving Word Bank if you need help thinking of strong, descriptive words.

4. Leaf Pile Adventure

5 {fun} Thanksgiving writing prompts for kidsAfter Thanksgiving dinner, you and your cousin decide to explore the neighborhood. At the end of the street, you notice a giant pile of leaves.

Together, you make a running start and leap right into the middle of the pile! Suddenly, the ground opens up beneath you, and you find yourselves sliding down a steep slide.

Write a story about what happens when you land at the bottom of the slide. Where are you? Include three different things that happen on your adventure, and conclude your story by telling how you and your cousin get back home.

5. A Feast of Favorites

5 {fun} Thanksgiving writing prompts for kids
At the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims and Indians ate foods such as wild turkey, venison, berries, squash, corn, roasted eels, and shellfish.

If you could go back in time to that historic event, what would you bring to share with your new friends? Make a list of 3-5 of your personal favorite Thanksgiving foods, and describe each one.

. . . . .

If you enjoyed these fun Thanksgiving writing prompts, be sure to check back each week for more Writing Prompt Wednesdays!

Photos: Mark DumontCliff, Kevin K, OakleyOriginals, and Steve Johnson courtesy of Creative Commons.

12 back-to-school writing prompts

back to school writing prompts

LOOKING FOR some fresh ways to ease your kids back into writing? These fun end-of-summer writing prompts will help them reflect on their summer without resorting to that tired, overused “How did you spend your summer vacation?”

  1. August is the only month that has no major holiday. Invent a new August holiday. How will people celebrate?
  2. Did you visit a new place for the first time this summer? Describe this place and tell how you felt about it.
  3. Think about your favorite activity from this past summer? What made it so much fun?
  4. Describe something you did this summer that involved water.
  5. Summer is a time for vacations, family reunions, and backyard parties. Write about something you did with a large group of people this summer.
  6. byke_boySummer is a great time to explore the out-of-doors. Did you spend time in nature this summer? Describe where you went and some things you did there.
  7. There’s one word that reminds almost everyone of summer: hot! Was your summer hot? What did you do to keep cool?
  8. Kids often get summer jobs. Did you? What were some things you did this summer to earn money?
  9. Write about something you did this summer that you have never done before.
  10. Write five words that describe your summer. Then tell why you chose each word.
  11. Describe something you did this summer to help someone in need.
  12. Write about a book you read this summer.
Photos: Vicki Watkins and Marius B, courtesy of Creative Commons.

July 4th writing prompts in a jar

July 4th writing prompts in a jar! Kids will write lists, letters, poems, and stories to celebrate fun, food, family, and freedom!

IT’S SUMMER. Your kids would rather ride bikes, toss a baseball, and run through the sprinklers than sit indoors “doing school.” Make writing time fun by taking clipboards, pencils, and papers outdoors, and inspire your kids with writing prompts that center on Independence Day.

  1. Copy, paste, and print out (or handwrite) the following prompts on red, white, and blue paper strips. Place them in a jar.
  2. Have each child draw two slips of paper from the jar.
  3. Ask them to choose their favorite of the two. If you have a reluctant child, set the timer for 15 minutes.

Voila! A patriotic, short-and-sweet summer writing activity!

July 4th Writing Prompts

My Freedoms

What does freedom mean to you? List five ways you can exercise your freedom.

Parade Float

You have been invited to design a float for the 4th of July parade. In one word, what will be the theme of your float? Explain how you will express this theme through decorations, costumes, and music.

Word Bank Story

Write a story using words from this Independence Day word bank.

Message in the Sky

Imagine watching a fireworks show with your family. In a burst of red, white, and blue, an urgent message suddenly appears in the night sky. What does it say? What will you do?

Story Fun

Write a story using these words: watermelon, fireworks, parade, thunderstorm, splash, race, tunnel, cousins, bicycle, dog. (Let younger children choose just 3-5 of these words for their story.)

Mouthwatering Menu

Plan the perfect 4th of July barbecue or picnic. Make a list of foods you would serve. Then, choose one or two and describe them in detail to make them sound as tempting and mouth-watering as possible.

It’s Been One of Those Days

Imagine a 4th of July celebration that is filled with mishaps. Write a story that tells about three things that go wrong.

Dear Pen Pal

Write a letter to an imaginary friend who lives in another country. Explain why we celebrate Independence Day, and describe five things you like about living in America.

It’s a Tradition!

Write about your family’s 4th of July traditions. Where do you go? What activities do you do? What foods do you enjoy?

Acrostic

  • Create an acrostic:
  • Vertically on your paper, write either “INDEPENDENCE DAY” or “FOURTH OF JULY.”
  • Next to each letter, write a word, phrase, or sentence related to the holiday’s history or your family traditions. (For example, “J” could be Jefferson, Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, or Juicy watermelon.)

Bonus!

Visit BusyTeacher.org for a collection of Independence Day printables and worksheets including 4th of July finger puppets, Old Glory worksheet, and a color-and-cut 4th of July visor!

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

Photo: breakmake, courtesy of Creative Commons.

5 summer writing activities from Pinterest

LOOKING FOR ways to keep your children {productively} occupied this summer without actually assigning schoolwork? Look no further! You can find tons of great summer writing activities from Pinterest.

Here are five fun Pinterest projects you can suggest to help stave off boredom.

1. Make Your Own Comic Book

Got boys? They’ll love these 10 tips for making their own comic books!

writing activities from pinterest, make comic book

2. Create Your Own Word Art

Using Microsoft Word, your kids can create word art in the shape of their choice. Encourage them to choose words that fit a theme, such as jungle words, summer words, or family words.

For added writing fun, invite them instead to use the text of a poem or short story they’ve written, highlighting key words in bright colors and interesting fonts.

writing activities from pinterest, word art

3. Write Eraser Stories

Collectible Japanese erasers come in loads of fun shapes, but you can also find budget-friendly $1 packs of cute mini erasers at places like Michael’s. Pick up an assortment and set your kids to writing eraser stories!

This engaging activity helps your child choose characters and situations as story starters so they can create a simple yet fun story. If you have a pre-writer (or a reluctant one!), make this an oral activity in which you write the story as your child spins his yarn.

eraser stories, summer writing activities, pinterest

4. Make an Inchie Book

Who doesn’t love miniature things? Combine arts and crafts with writing and encourge your kids to turn their tiny stories into tiny books!

writing activities from pinterest, make inchie book, tiny books, make a book

5. Make a Step Book

Step books are especially fun for younger children, as they lend themselves beautifully to counting books. Work together with a preschooler to create a step book just for him. Even better, suggest that your older kids make a step book for a younger sibling!

pinterest, writing activities from pinterest, step books, summer writing fun, summer writing activities, making books

Follow my Pinterest boards and explore my blog for even more writing ideas!

Your Turn!

What are some of your favorite Pinterest writing activities for kids? Feel free to share links in the comments!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy.

Mother’s Day writing activities

Mothers Day Writing Activities - Gift-giving from the heart!

MOTHER’S DAY is right around the corner. Time for breakfast in bed, roses, homemade cards, and extra snuggles!

There’s just one teeny-weeny problem: unless your children are self-motivated (or Dad’s on the ball), you may find yourself pouring your own orange juice, quietly weeping into the pancake batter, and emailing yourself a sappy e-card to mark the occasion!

Instead, be proactive and ask your children to write or create something special for you for Mother’s Day. Whether it’s a letter, essay, card, poem, or simple crafty gift, it will bring you joy to bask in your children’s sentiments on your special day!

Mother’s Day Writing Prompts

Journaling about Mother’s Day can help your kids focus on the important role of motherhood. Whether they write about special times you’ve shared together or ways you show love to your family, your kids may gain a better appreciation of what it means to be a mom.

Type up, print, and cut out the following prompts. Tell your children how much you love getting special notes and letters from them, and invite them to choose the prompt(s) they want to write about. Make craft supplies and fancy paper available in case they also want to create a card.

Prompt Ideas

  • Tell why you love your mom.
  • Explain how you know your mom loves you.
  • Tell how you know your mother loves being a mom.
  • Write about some important things you have learned from your mom.
  • What are some things you can do to make your mom’s life easier?
  • What do you think is the hardest part about being a mom?
  • If you could give your mom anything in the world for Mother’s Day, what would it be?
  • Describe something that made your mom really happy.
  • Write about five things a good mom must do.
  • How can you tell when your mom is proud of you?
  • Write a list of 10 things you appreciate about your mom.
  • What are three of your favorite things about your mom? Write about them.
  • Why is it important to celebrate your mom with her own special day?
  • Write a prayer thanking God for the things that make your mother special.

Mother’s Day Poems

  • Write a cinquain or haiku poem about mothers (or about your mom).
  • Write an acrostic poem about your mom using the letters in the word “MOTHER.” Older kids might enjoy the challenge of using all the letters in “HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY,” while younger ones can write a simpler acrostic using “MOM” or “LOVE.”
  • Ask a young child to think of words that describe you (soft, huggable, kind, loving, beautiful, warm, friendly). Then have her compare some of those traits to familiar things. For example, she might say, “Mommy is as soft as a marshmallow.” Help her create a simile poem like this one:

Mommy is as sweet as _______.
Mommy is as gentle as _______.
Mommy is as huggable as _______.
My mommy is ________.

Mother’s Day Cards and Crafts

Mother's Day Card [front]I realize it may be hard to actually ask your kids to make you a Mother’s Day card or gift, but maybe you can hint to your husband or teen to organize younger children to make one of these fun crafts!

No matter how your family celebrates you, I pray each of my mom friends enjoys a special Mother’s Day surrounded by those you love the most.

. . . . .

Your Turn

What was your most memorable Mother’s Day? OR, what is the most special Mother’s Day gift you’ve received?

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy.

StoryBuilders Christmas writing prompts

StoryBuilders Christmas Writing Prompts - Fun, printable card decks from WriteShop

Write Christmas Stories with a Twist!

What’s this? A ragged fir tree helps a stranger on a cold night? A weary homeless man discovers a wallet full of money outside a bakery? A bad-tempered candy maker finds a magic candy cane and disappears into a snow globe?

What kid wouldn’t love to write a holiday story filled with such hope, whimsy, or intrigue?

Award-winning WriteShop StoryBuilders card decks help to jumpstart a creative writing project by providing children with the basic elements of a story—character, character trait, setting, and plot—laying a foundation for a joyful writing experience with some clever surprises thrown in along the way.

During the holidays, use the Christmas Mini-Builder to occupy bored or antsy kids and teens with these fun Christmas writing prompts. For only $3.95, you get 96 cards to download and print, along with lots of suggestions for writing games and activities.

A Mom’s Story

Don’t just take it from me! Here’s a snippet from an email I got just this morning!

I just wanted to write a quick thank-you note for the Christmas Mini-Builder! My daughter, who is 11, is dyslexic and she tends to write as little as she can get away with when assigned a task. I printed out the story cards today and let her loose and she has written three short stories so far — and it’s only 8:20 a.m.! ~Erin

So what are you waiting for? Enjoy some stress-free holiday writing! Gather the family around, pass out the Christmas StoryBuilders cards, and let the writing fun begin!

 

Writing a holiday “how-to” paragraph

Holiday how-to paragraphs are a great December writing activity! Describe a familiar process such as wrapping gifts or setting the table.

As holiday decorations come out and the tree or menorah takes center stage, children can become increasingly distracted, sidetracked, and fidgety in anticipation of upcoming seasonal celebrations.

Homeschooling doesn’t need to fall by the wayside during December! The holidays can be a great time to assign writing activities that focus on the festivities, allowing children to immerse themselves in the fun while encouraging productivity. This month, have your kids write a paragraph describing a holiday-themed process where they explain, in a step-by-step manner, how something is done.

Process Paragraph: Choosing a Topic

Help them pick a process that isn’t too involved or complicated. With younger or reluctant writers, it’s especially important to keep the number of steps to a minimum. Also, the more familiar children are with the process, the easier it will be to write about it.

Here are some ideas to get them started. They can explain how to:

  • Wrap a present
  • Make latkes
  • Decorate the tree
  • Bake gingerbread cookies
  • Build a snowman
  • Be a “Secret Santa”
  • Set the table for dinner
  • Create a handmade greeting card
  • Make a holiday craft project
  • Play the dreidel game
  • String popcorn
  • Make a paper “countdown” chain

Process Paragraph: Writing the Rough Draft

Once your kids have chosen a topic (and narrowed it down to a specific task, if necessary), walk them through a few simple steps to guide and direct them.

  1. If possible, have them go through the process themselves before beginning to write. Take digital photos of them as they complete each step.
  2. Provide a graphic organizer to help them break down the steps of the process and plan the composition. Here’s a simple one that’s especially good for elementary ages. Here’s one can be filled in on the computer. Or download a free lesson sample from WriteShop I (grades 6+) that includes a Process Planning Worksheet.
  3. Next, have them begin to write the rough draft, explaining the most important steps first.
  4. Teach them to use transition words such as first, second, third, next, then, finally, or last.
  5. If the paper isn’t too long, or if the steps are too vague, they can expand each step by adding sub-steps, more detail, or colorful description.

Process Paragraph: Making an Instruction Manual

Edit the rough draft together to ensure the steps are logical and easy to follow, and check for spelling and punctuation errors.

To publish their how-to composition in a fun way, have your children create an instruction manual. Here’s how:

  1. Invite them to choose the photos they want to use to illustrate the process. They will need to print out 4-6 pictures. Let them tape or glue each picture to the top half of a sheet of notebook paper, using a separate sheet for each photo.
  2. Next, have them copy their corrected composition onto the sheets of notebook paper, writing the sentence or sentences that each photo illustrates.
  3. Finally, encourage them to design and decorate a colorful cover, including a catchy title. Assemble the instruction manual and share with family members.

Activities like this will keep your children happily writing, even during the busiest time of year!

Copyright © 2010 Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr.

Encourage thankfulness: Part 2

Cultivating gratitude in children and encouraging thankful hearts will teach them to be "others focused"

Yesterday, I gave some suggestions for cultivating gratitude in children’s hearts in Encourage Thankfulness: Part 1. Here are a few more ideas to try.

Dear God

A joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful. ~Book of Common Prayer (1892)

Give your child a small spiral notebook or special journal in which to write prayers. Encourage her to express gratitude and thanksgiving as part of each prayer she writes. She can thank God for:

  • Creation. I’m thankful for crisp snow, pink sunsets, autumn colors, grass and flowers, giraffes and snapping turtles.
  • Provision. Thank You for our house, food, clothing, toys, books, pets, family and friends; for Daddy’s job; that Mom can stay home and teach us; for hot water, warm blankets, and comfortable beds.
  • Gifts and talents. Thank You that I’m musical, athletic, smart. I’m a talented photographer. I’m good at building Legos, mowing the grass, baking. I know how to raise goats and plant a garden. I’m kind, loyal, faithful. I’m a hard worker. I can dance. I excel at computers, math, science. I love reading, writing, drawing, building with my hands.

Every day, help her look for ways to be thankful for big and little things. Find more ideas for keeping a Gratitude Journal.

Do Unto Others

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~William Arthur Ward

Invite your children to make a list of things they can do to express gratitude to someone who has been kind to them or to show kindness to someone who needs it. Once the list is complete, have them act on at least one of them. Their list can include things like:

  • Bake cookies.
  • Make a handmade card.
  • Mow the neighbor’s lawn.
  • Obey the first time Mom or Dad asks me to do something.
  • Do a favor without being asked.
  • Do one of my brother’s chores just because.
  • Invite Grandma over and make breakfast for her.
  • Write a poem for my auntie because she’s so kind to me.
  • Sponsor a child because I’m thankful I have a family.
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or food bank because I’m thankful I have food and a roof over my head.
  • Fill a Christmas shoebox for a child who doesn’t have toys and treats, because I’m blessed to have so much.
  • Be kind to someone who doesn’t deserve it because God does that for me.

Operation Beautiful

All that we behold is full of blessings. ~William Wordsworth

A love note...Gratitude doesn’t always mean saying “thank you.” Simply stepping out of self-centeredness and considering others’ needs and feelings is a form of gratitude, too.

Your child can make people smile or feel better about themselves by placing a sticky note somewhere random. Write uplifting thoughts, kind words, and encouraging quotes. I love Operation Beautiful for this!

Finally, don’t just save gratitude for Thanksgiving. Help your children look for ways throughout the year to express thanks, turning the focus outward. By cultivating gratitude in your children, everyone will be the better for it.

30 Days of Gratitude

I Am Thankful (Acrostic Poem Activity)

 Photo: Matthew Cua, courtesy of Creative Commons.

Encourage thankfulness: Part 1

Ways to encourage children to express thankfulness and appreciation

It’s almost Thanksgiving. Around the country, we’ll soon be picking up our turkeys, baking pies, chopping aromatic vegetables for stuffing, and setting our prettiest table.

Even still, it’s hard to forget that we’re about to careen around the corner and crash right into December—that most commercial wonderful time of the year.

Do you feel like you’re walking on the edge of a knife, trying to maintain a thankful spirit in your home during the season of the “gimmees”?

You can cultivate an attitude of gratitude in your children, and the days or weeks preceding Thanksgiving are a great time to start. When the kids begin squabbling, acting selfish, or expressing entitlement, encourage thankfulness! Help them do a 180 and refocus, using one of these activities as a springboard.

Thank You For…

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~Marcel Proust

Writing a note of appreciation for a gift received seems obvious, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Who has made an impact on your children’s lives? Provide stationery and writing tools and have your kids think of deeper reasons they can express their thanks.

  • Dad. Thank him for making you feel safe and loved, for working hard for your family, for playing football in the yard, for showing you how to fix a flat on your bike, for teaching you about God, for playing Monopoly with you.
  • Mom. Thank her for being your teacher, for driving you to all your activities, for cooking tasty meals for your family, for showing you how to bake a chocolate cake, for helping you become kind and compassionate, for setting a good example.
  • Grandparents. Thank them for things you often take for granted, such as coming to your soccer games or school performances. Thank them for holding a special place in your life, for encouraging, supporting, and loving you.
  • Sunday school teacher. Thank her for caring about you, for teaching you about Jesus, for bringing donuts each week.
  • Newspaper deliverer or postman. Thank him for delivering your mail or paper every day, no matter how hot or cold or rainy or snowy. Thank him for being a dependable worker.
  • Pet. Thank your dog or cat for being faithful, friendly, loyal; for being a playmate; for providing companionship, entertainment, and smiles.

Encourage Thankfulness in Children

It’s Been Said

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Encourage your children to copy favorite quotes about gratitude and thanksgiving and pin them to a wall or bulletin board in their room. For starters, find gratitude quotes here and here. Then, have your kids try one of these ideas:

  • Copy each saying using neatest penmanship.
  • Write the quote on fancy paper using calligraphy or italic handwriting.
  • Type it on the computer, choose an appropriate font, enlarge the text to fill the page, and print it on pretty paper.

Count Your Blessings

Who does not thank for little will not thank for much. ~Estonian Proverb

Mount a large sheet of posterboard on the wall of your kitchen or family room, and keep a jar of colored markers nearby. Encourage your children to write things they’re thankful for, no matter how small. Pre-writers can simply draw pictures on the posterboard.

Alternatively, make a stack of sticky notes available on which they can record their words of gratitude. Provide a centralized spot for these thankful thoughts, or simply let the kids pepper the house with notes.

. . . . .

Gratitude is an amazing thing. It’s good for our health and well-being; it helps us choose contentment over want, self-centeredness, and entitlement; and it makes us easier to please. We can indeed be purposeful about helping our kids ditch their “me” mentality and become more others-focused.

You can find more ideas at 30 Days of Gratitude. And check back tomorrow for Encourage Thankfulness: Part 2.

Kim_signature_short

Photos: Eren {sea + prairie) and Fern R, courtesy of Creative Commons.
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