Entries Tagged 'Writing Games & Activities' ↓

Synonym bingo

GAMES ARE such a great way of teaching or practicing skills. When an activity is fun and engaging, learning happens more naturally. The best part? The kids don’t even realize they’re doing “schoolwork”!

To give your children practice with synonyms and help them better understand the subtlety of word meanings, play Synonym Bingo!

Supplies

Printable bingo cards (blank or customizable)

Synonym word lists such as:

Bingo markers such as pennies or dried beans

Directions

  1. Choose 24 synonym pairs from one of your word lists. Circle one word from each pair. This will become your call list.
  2. If printing out blank bingo cards: Write the other word from each pair in a different square on the bingo cards. If several children are playing, scramble the order of the words so the cards are different from one another. Words on the card should not be synonyms of other words on the card. For example, write “large” or “big,” but not both.
  3. If using customizable cards: Type the words as directed by the website. It will generate the customized bingo cards and create a PDF for you to print.
  4. To play the game, call out one of the circled words on your list. Players then place a marker on the corresponding synonym. Play continues until a child covers five squares in a row either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally.

Variations

  • Give a list of 24 words to your child (but not their synonyms). Let her think of a synonym for each word and write it in a square. Use the list as your call list.
  • Play the game using homophones or antonyms.

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.

Paint chip stories

palate

MOMS LOVE summertime writing activities that are creative, stress-free, and fun. Here’s one idea you can try today.

Paint Chip Stories

Paint chip samples often have interesting names. Some of these names are so descriptive, they could become elements in a story! Take a quick trip to the hardware store and pick up a handful of paint chips. Then, using the paint chips as inspiration, invite your kids to write some clever stories.

The list below also contains actual names of paint colors. If you can’t make it to the paint department, simply have each child choose five paint chip names from the list and write a descriptive story using all five. Alternatively, visit My Perfect Color to browse through the amazing selection of paint chip names and pick five favorites as a story springboard.

Example: Copper Mountain, Tent, Campground, Moon, Happy Camper

Painted Sky
Tropical Holiday
Wheat Field
Gentle Rain
Baked Scone
Pebble Path
Garden Wall
Tent
Icicle
Calm Air
Scotland Road
Moon
Cloudy Day
Cup of Cocoa
Puddle
Early Morning
Vibrant
Rain-washed
Ballerina Gown
Candlelight
Happy Camper
Secret Garden
Copper Mountain
Heirloom Lace
Scroll
Parakeet
Campground
Sandstorm
Cozy Cottage
Koala Bear
Pool
Treasures
Sunlight
Splashing

Your Turn

Share five paint color names you would use in a story. For added fun, tell your story’s main idea!

Photo credit: Bob Mical, courtesy of Creative Commons. Used by permission.

5 ways to use narration with pre-writers

5 Narration Activities for Pre-writers: When age, immaturity, or lack of pencil skills prevent little ones from writing independently

MANY OF YOU have children who are pre-writers. Their busy young minds are bursting with ideas, and their often-hilarious stories and ideas pour forth to the amazement—and amusement—of friends and family.

But since they can’t write yet, what happens to these little tales? We think we’ll always remember them, but before we know it, our children’s words have floated away on the breeze.

What do you do when young age, immaturity, or lack of skill with a pencil prevents your littles from recording their own brilliant thoughts? Simple! Act as their scribe as they narrate to you.

Here are five fun narration activities to get you started:

1. Illustrating a Story

As your child dictates a sentence or a short story to you, write it at the bottom of a large sheet of paper. Next, have him draw or paint a picture at the top of the page to illustrate it.

Alternatively, have him create his picture first, and then ask him to tell you a story about his work of art. Write it beneath the illustration.

2. Retelling

A young or reluctant writer may feel more comfortable retelling a familiar story than trying to plan an original story of her own.

Laughing
Read a paragraph or short book or excerpt to your child. Have her orally tell the story back to you in her own words. Help her by asking questions (Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?).

As she narrates her story, write it down word-for-word. Sometimes she will give such a mature-sounding narrative that the only thing to remind you of her young age will be words like “catched” or “brang.” Not only will you have recorded her story, you will have a treasured memory of her early speech habits!

3. Narrating a Wordless Book

When age, immaturity, or lack of pencil skills prevents little ones from writing independently, you can act as their scribe as they narrate to you.Using a wordless picture book, your child can make up a story either orally or in writing to accompany the illustrations. Consider some of these:

4. Narrating into a Recording Device

Let your child narrate his account into a tape recorder or digital recording device. When his writing skills have developed sufficiently (perhaps by 2nd-4th grade), you may want to have him write his story from dictation. He can stop and start the recording as he writes his own words on paper.

5. Narrating Letters

Your child can dictate letters to friends or relatives, greetings to missionaries, thank-you notes, etc. If she is old enough, correct grammar and spelling with her and let her recopy the letter in her own writing. To apply this to your schooling, she may write a letter about a field trip she took, a book she read (or you read to her), or an exciting science experiment you did together.

What are the benefits of these simple exercises?

  • They teach young children important skills such as retelling a story, observing their world, and organizing their ideas.
  • They boost confidence and pave the way for later writing.
  • Early writers can share the pencil with you, dictating what they cannot write by themselves.
  • Reluctant writers experience the freedom to put together ideas without the limitations and fear of having to write them down.
  • Often, a child’s speaking vocabulary is more advanced than his ability to write. You may find that even your older children’s stories are more colorful and descriptive when they dictate them to you from time to time.

Why not try a narration activity today? You might just open up a whole new world of words for your pre-writer!

Your Turn

What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate narration activities into your schooling?

 Photo: Misko, courtesy of Creative Commons

Build skills with puzzles and word games

R

TODAY IS National Scrabble Day, and my mind has turned to word games. That’s right! Scrabble, the granddaddy of all word games, has its very own designated holiday, celebrated each year on April 13.

Celebrate National Scrabble Day

In honor of National Scrabble Day, why not join the fun by engaging your family in one of these Scrabble-themed activities or projects?

  • Scrabble – Play the official crossword puzzle board game.
  • Scrabble – Play this free online version!
  • Boardless Scrabble – Speed Scrabble played with just the tiles
  • Anagrams – Test your skills! An anagram is a word or phrase made by transposing the letters to create another word or phrase. For instance, MARCH is an anagram of CHARM. Scrabble players must rearrange tiles to create words, so anagrams make great practice!
  • Word and Letter Games – Find letter-matching games, Scrabble activities, Scattergories-type worksheets, and other skill-building games. Activities and printables. (This is an ESL site, but the activities translate well to native English speakers.)
  • Printable Scrabble Game – print your own board and pieces. Or, download and print these realistic “wood” tiles for FREE!
  • Printable Word Scramble and Cryptogram Worksheets – Similar to anagrams, cryptograms provide practice with rearranging letters. These are arranged by both theme and grade.
  • Handmade Gifts for Scrabble Lovers – Even if you can’t actually make these crafts today, you can begin planning some serious Scrabble-themed Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and birthday gifts.

  • Pinterest Scrabble Craft Ideas – Find all sorts of great ideas for converting Scrabble elements into photo frames, wall art, Christmas ornaments, magnets, and more!

Tap into the Benefits of Word Games

Whether you play online—or with pencil, paper, cubes, tiles, or game boards—word games are great for building vocabulary and thinking skills. Besides Scrabble, there are other favorites too! Challenge your children with some of these stimulating activities.

Popular letter-arrangement games include:

Benefits: Vocabulary development; improved spelling skills; cognitive and social benefits; mental stimulation

Paper and pencil puzzles offer more options for word lovers:

Benefits: Boredom busters; mental stimulation; improved brain function; better concentration; vocabulary development; improved spelling skills

Structured games that focus more on word meanings include:

Benefits: Improved language skills; social benefits

Your children will think they’re getting a break from school to play games, but you’ll know differently. Using word games and exercises that are stimulating, educational, and fun, you’ll be helping your kids give their brains a workout!

Your Turn

What are your family’s favorite word games?

 

Teaching the Friendly Letter Boogie

For added fun, try teaching the Friendly Letter Boogie! Kids enjoy this movement activity to remember the parts of a friendly letter.

“The kids loved the Friendly Letter Boogie—that was a fun entertaining way to make the lesson stick. I still catch them doing it.” –Jennifer, NC

The early elementary years are the perfect time to introduce children to writing a friendly letter.

Part of writing a letter includes learning to format it properly. With all those headings and greetings and signatures, this can prove complicated for young children, who are still just learning about writing sentences and paragraphs.

That’s why mnemonics, songs, fingerplays, and motion activities are so valuable at this age—they reinforce trickier concepts, aid children in learning new skills, and help with recall.

Doin’ the “Friendly Letter Boogie”

For a memorable kinesthetic activity, try teaching the Friendly Letter Boogie! Children enjoy this movement activity that helps them remember the parts of a friendly letter.

Heading. At the very top of a friendly letter is the heading. The date goes here. Ask your child to pat her head to remember that the heading comes first.

Greeting. Second comes the greeting, such as “Dear Grandma.” Extend and shake hands to “greet” each other.

Body. Third is the body of the letter. Invite your child to wiggle her body to remember that the body of the letter comes next.

Closing. At the bottom of the letter is the closing, where she’ll write: “Love,” “Your friend,” or “Sincerely.” Tell your child to close her feet together for the closing.

Signature. To help your child remember to include her signature at the bottom of the letter, have her sign her name on the floor with her foot.

Isn’t this a fun way to practice and remember? Each day that you work on writing letters together, have your children do the Friendly Letter Boogie. In no time, they’ll have mastered the steps of formatting a basic letter!

. . . . .

WriteShop Primary uses engaging activities such as the Friendly Letter Boogie to teach writing concepts to young children.

WriteShop Primary, an early-elementary writing curriculum for homeschoolers, is filled with games and activities such as the Friendly Letter Boogie—fun ways to help you introduce important skills to your youngest writers. The Friendly Letter Boogie appears in WriteShop Primary Book B.

Copyright 2012 © by Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Photo credits: Karah Fredricks. Used by permission.

8 writing ideas from Pinterest

8 Writing Ideas from Pinterest | In Our Write Minds

My name is Kim, and I’m a Pinterestaholic . . .

Well, maybe it’s not THAT serious, but I do love Pinterest. It’s simply the best way to keep online recipes, photos, tips, and craft ideas categorized—even the ones I think I’ll never actually get around to using!

In addition to pinning salad recipes, organizational tips, and ideas for a future kitchen remodel, I’ve been collecting scads of writing ideas, too. Here’s a toe-dip in the water of great writing ideas from Pinterest:

1. Paint Chip Contractions

Who knew you could have so much fun with paint chips? This Paint Chip Contractions activity will help your kids practice forming contractions.

Paint Chip Contractions

2. Boggle

Isn’t this the most fun? It’s a Printable Boggle Board! Boggle makes an outstanding pre-writing game for all ages, from elementary through high school. It’s a great way to dust off the cobwebs and get ready for writing time.

Printable Boggle Board

3. Paint Chip Synonym Garden

Use colorful paint chips in graduated hues to make a Paint Chip Synonym Garden. It’s a hands-on vocabulary-building tool that keeps dull or repeated words at a minimum. This is ideal for middle-schoolers, but you can certainly use it with younger students as well.

Synonym Paint Chip Flower

4. Traffic Light Transitions

Make a Traffic Light Transitions poster. This terrific visual will remind children to use transition words to connect sentences and paragraphs.

Traffic Light Transitions

5. Journal Jar

Journaling is another way to loosen stuck thoughts and ideas. Make this cute Journal Jar, which includes a link to colorful, printable topics you can cut out and add to the jar. Children will have fun picking out topics, whether you do daily, bi-weekly, or weekly journaling. For added fun, let them give input about what they’d like to write about!

Journal Jar

6. Venn Diagrams

When teaching children to compare and contrast, a Venn diagram is a useful tool. And when you add a kinesthetic dimension for your hands-on learners, it’s even better! Here’s a Paper Plate Venn Diagram that’s been used to compare and contrast two different versions of “The Princess and the Pea.” You can really run with this idea in so many ways!

Paper Plate Venn Diagram

7. Writing a Strong Lead

Students of all ages can struggle with how to introduce a topic or start a story. I love this free printable poster I found through Pinterest: What Makes an Effective Lead?

What Makes an Effective Lead?

8. Lists

I’ve long been an advocate of list-making, so I especially love this link to a great resource for printable lists, including book lists, lists of descriptive adjectives, and this list of strong verbs. Watch your children’s vocabulary soar!

List of Strong Verbs

Be sure to follow WriteShop’s Pinterest boards for more creative grammar and writing activities like these!

Pinterest

Have you been bitten by the Pinterest bug? Leave your link in the comments and I’ll be happy to follow you, too!

Freewriting exercise: The Writing Well

When students have a deep “well” of words and ideas from which to draw, their compositions becomes more vivid and concrete.

Although it’s is one of the most necessary and helpful steps of the writing process, brainstorming can stump a reluctant writer—even if she’s using a worksheet, graphic organizer, or parent prompting.

You:    What comes to mind when you think of the beach?
Child: Sand and water.
You:   
Great! What else?
Child: That’s all I can think of.

And that’s on a good day!

Prime the Pump

When students have a deep “well” of words and ideas from which to draw, their compositions becomes more vivid and concrete. That’s why WriteShop repeatedly emphasizes the need for adequate brainstorming as a routine part of the writing process. But if their well is dry and they can’t come up with enough words or ideas, their compositions will fall flat.

To keep ideas fresh and flowing, students need to prime their writing pumps on a regular basis. By practicing frequent brainstorming—especially when there’s no added pressure to write a composition—they’ll discover that they can think of words more quickly and abundantly. An freewriting exercise like the Writing Well is a perfect training tool!

The Writing Well

The “Writing Well” is a freewriting exercise designed to stimulate vocabulary, ideas, and impressions on a particular topic. It makes a good pre-writing activity, but it’s really brainstorming practice in disguise!

Kept in a small notebook, these brainstorming results can also become a “seed book”—a resource, word bank, or collection of ideas—when writing future compositions.

Student Directions

  1. You will find it helpful to keep your “Writing Well” in a spiral notebook for easy reference.
  2. Use a separate page for each topic. You may use both front and back if you wish.
  3. Before beginning, choose a topic and write it at the top of the page. Then set the timer to write for five full minutes.
  4. The purpose of this exercise is to write down all the words, phrases, or sentences that come to mind about your chosen topic within the five minutes allotted.

If you get stuck, try some of these ideas:

  • Picture the topic in your mind. Use your five sensessight, sound, touch, taste, and smell—to describe details.
  • Ask yourself questions about the subject matter—who? what? when? where? why? how?
  • Use a photograph or magazine picture to jog your thoughts.

At first this activity may seem difficult. You may wonder: How can I write about one thing for five whole minutes? Relax! Over time you’ll find that it has become more natural to transfer ideas from your head to your paper.

Some of these exercises will lend themselves to becoming compositions. Put a colorful star at the top of the page if you might like to develop this into a paragraph or story in the future.

Parent Tips

In the beginning, your child may have trouble writing for five full minutes. Perhaps you could set the timer for three minutes, then increase it to four, and finally to five over the course of several weeks.

If your student brainstorms very generally about a topic, you might suggest next time that she narrow her topic even further. For example, if she writes on the topic of animals, she’ll probably include a list of many kinds of animals. Next time, have her select just one of those animals (such as dogs, monkeys, or whales) and make a “Writing Well” for that subtopic, including as many details as she can.

Should your student repeatedly make lists of words only, challenge her to begin writing descriptive phrases, too. Sometimes these will be factual and sometimes experiential. For example:

If she’s writing about “red,” words and phrases might include:

  • ketchup
  • stop signs
  • making Valentines for my family
  • embers glowing in the fireplace
  • fire engines
  • Dorothy’s ruby slippers
  • the crimson sunset on our vacation in California

If she’s writing about Grandma, phrases might include:

  • baking chocolate cookies together
  • lives in an apartment in Miami
  • smells sweet like roses
  • takes a ceramics class in her clubhouse
  • silver hair
  • favorite color is pink

The random list of “red” words and phrases probably won’t ever be developed into a paragraph. On the other hand, the “Grandma” list definitely has potential to become a great descriptive composition at some point.

Writing Well Topics

Are you ready? Dip your ladle deep into the Writing Well and pull up a full, soaking draught of words and ideas. Then spill them over a fresh page—and let the writing begin. Here are some topics to get you started!

  • a famous place I would like to visit
  • my dream car
  • gardens
  • books
  • animals (farm animals, jungle creatures, pets, birds, insects)
  • birthdays
  • the beach
  • fishing
  • obeying
  • snow
  • sounds that make me happy (nervous, afraid)
  • my childhood toys
  • my favorite meal
  • my grandpa (or other family member)
  • our pantry
  • Saturdays
  • things I like about myself
  • heaven
  • the color blue (orange, yellow, gray, green)
  • things that make me feel cozy
  • new uses for duct tape
  • If cars could fly…
  • If I had to live underwater…

Copyright © 2012 Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

. . . . .

“The Writing Well” is one of the supplemental writing activities tucked into the appendix of the Teacher’s Manual for WriteShop I and II.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr. Other photos courtesy of stock.xchg. Used with permission.

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.

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.

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