Writing prompts from the life of Christ

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

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

1. Consider the Lilies

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

2. Praying Always

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

3. A Servant’s Heart

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

4. Almighty King

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

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

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

Easter writing activities

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

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

Write a Prayer


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

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

High School

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

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

Write a Testimony


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

High School

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

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

Make a “Good Seed” Collage

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

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

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

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

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

WriteShop Blog--In Our Write Minds

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

Photo: Daren, courtesy of Creative Commons

Writing prompts about robots

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

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

1. Meet Harvey & Simon

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

2. Clean Sweep

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

3. Life and Death Lists

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

4. Invisible Friends

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

5. The Workforce of Tomorrow

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

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

Photo: Don DeBold, courtesy of Creative Commons

5 fabulous features of children’s poetry

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

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

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

Discovering Children’s Poetry

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

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

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

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

Introducing Poetry to Children

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

1. Listen for Onomatopoeia

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

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

2. Listen for Repeated Sounds

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

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

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

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

3. Listen for Repeated Words

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

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

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

4. Listen for Rhyme

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Listen for Figurative Language

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

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

The binocular owl
fastened to a limb
like a lantern

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

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

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

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

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

Image: Guy Evans, courtesy of Creative Commons

Free Printable Spring Writing Prompt

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

Spring printable writing prompt from WriteShop

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

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

Missouri homeschool conferences: MPE & SHEM

WriteShop will be attending two homeschool conventions in April. Check out the details!

Midwest Parent Educators Conference (MPE)

The MPE (Midwest Parent Educators) Conference is this coming weekend, April 5-6. This conference will be held at the KCI Expo Center in Kansas City, MO.

WriteShop at Midwest Parent Educators Conference

Our WriteShop representative, April, will help and encourage you at the MPE Conference. She’s looking forward to answering your writing questions, showing you WriteShop products, and helping you choose the best level for your child’s writing needs.She will also be presenting our Inspiring Successful Writers workshop on Saturday.

See the MPE website for more details.

Southwest Home Education Ministry Convention (SHEM)

If you live near Springfield, MO—you’ll want to attend the SHEM Homeschool Convention at the Springfield Expo Center April 10-12, 2014. April will be manning our booth at SHEM as well, ready to help you with your writing questions.

WriteShop at SHEM homeschool convention

Visit the vendor booth

As you begin looking toward the next school year, it’s also the perfect time to stop by the WriteShop booth to ask questions, see what’s new, or browse through WriteShop books in person.

WriteShop Junior Book EAt both conventions you can:

We hope to see you there!

Kids can learn by teaching others!

Make writing lessons more effective by asking your kids to "teach" others what they're learning!

This article contains affiliate links.

I’ve been writing and blogging for a while now. Yet no matter how many times I’ve read the rules for using hyphens between adjectives, I never got the hang of it. Until last Thursday, that is. That was the day I explained hyphens to someone else.

“No matter what you’re studying, when you turn around and teach someone else, and the sooner the better, you deepen your understanding of the subject.” –Deb Peterson, learning and training consultant

Homeschooling moms are often just one step ahead of the kids as we learn new facts and concepts to teach them. Yet don’t you find that when you prepare a lesson and explain it them, the information becomes implanted in your own mind in deeper, more lasting ways?

Just think how much your kids could benefit from similar opportunities to teach someone else what they’ve been learning!

Older Students: Teach Younger Children

When homeschooling multiple ages, it often makes sense to ask your high schooler to tutor a younger sibling in one or two areas. If 16-year-old Greg is a math whiz, why wouldn’t you want him helping 8-year-old Krista? This teaching time can build brother-sister relationships if you as the parent are careful to foster a spirit of mutual kindness and respect.

But what if that math whiz still struggles with writing and grammar concepts (hyphens, for instance)? You can still ask him to teach a grammar concept to his little sister. It will probably benefit him more than it will Krista—but that’s okay! It’s a great way to cement a concept in his mind as he introduces something new to his younger sibling. While you might not assign this “teaching time” every day, you may find huge benefits in scheduling it once or twice a week.


Mom: Krista, as part of your grammar lesson, Greg’s going to explain something new about punctuation. I need you to be a good listener, okay?

Krista: Okay.

Greg: I’m learning how to use this little punctuation line called a hyphen. You use it between two adjectives sometimes. Adjectives are words that describe things.

Krista: I know about adjectives!

Greg: Good. Just making sure. So, sometimes you have a sentence with two adjectives in front of a noun, like this: “I wore a warm winter coat.” Do you think we need a hyphen between “warm” and “winter”?

Krista: I don’t know.

Greg: No, because nothing changes when those adjectives work alone. You can either say “warm coat” or “winter coat.”  They’re both right. But, if I changed it to “I wore a button-down shirt,” then you would need a hyphen. That’s because those words can’t work alone to describe my shirt. You wouldn’t say “button shirt” or “down shirt.” That doesn’t even make sense!

Krista: I still don’t get it.

Greg: Okay … the hyphen’s job is to make two words work together as one adjective. Pretend you have a blue striped dress. What are your two adjectives?

Krista: Blue and striped.

Greg: Right! Now, if you want to explain that the stripes—not the dress—are blue, you would use a hyphen and write “blue-striped dress.” The hyphen makes the “blue” and “striped” work together. They become one adjective that describes your dress.

Krista: Hyphens are confusing!

Greg: That’s okay. It just takes practice. How about if we practice with a few more examples? I’ll write down some phrases. I want you to read each phrase, but leave out one of the first two words. If the meaning of the whole phrase changes, we’ll know we need to add a hyphen. Try this one.

Krista: Chocolate covered marshmallow … chocolate marshmallow … wait! The marshmallow isn’t chocolate. It’s white!

Greg: Right! And “covered marshmallow” doesn’t make sense either! That means it needs a hyphen: chocolate-covered marshmallow.

Which of these examples need hyphens?

1. peanut butter cookies   2. three hour flight   3. windy autumn day   4. yellow cotton socks   5. funny looking clown   6. sunny Saturday morning   7. brown haired girl   8. forest green paint

(Answers: 1–yes; 2–yes; 3–no; 4–no; 5–yes; 6–no; 7–yes; 8–yes)

Younger Children: Meet Your Editing Buddy!

WriteShop Primary Book B introduces the idea of using “editing buddies” to encourage young children in the writing and editing process. Choose a small doll, stuffed animal, or action figure that only makes an appearance when it’s time for your first, second, or third-grade child to edit a writing project. Any kid can step into the role of teacher when an editing buddy is there to listen!

Girls are often all too happy to “play school” with their dolls. With a child-sized chalkboard, your daughter will spend hours teaching Saige or Princess Anna how to write reports, poems, or friendly letters. She can also sit side-by-side with her doll as they “work together” to edit a story.

Your boys, however, might resist the idea of playing teacher. You’ll have to think outside the box to make “teaching time” fun! Perhaps your son loves playing army. Ask him to wear camouflage when it’s time for a writing assignment, and surprise him with a G.I. Joe action figure standing at attention on the school table or writing center. Explain that G.I. Joe has been slacking with his writing lately, and the country needs your son to hammer this soldier into shape!


Mom: Can you tell G.I. Joe why I underlined these three words in your writing assignment?

Child (in a tough, military voice): Because those words are BORING!

Mom: What should G.I. Joe do about that?

Child (yelling like a drill commander): Change them to words that aren’t BORING!

Mom: I’ll let you work on that for a few minutes while I’m on KP duty.

Child: Yes, Ma’am!

Have you ever used editing buddies in your writing lessons? Have you asked your kids to learn by teaching? Share your experience in the comments below!

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

Photo: Carissa Rogers, courtesy of Creative Commons

Detective writing prompts

Kids who love a good mystery will dive right into these detective writing prompts.

DO your kids go crazy for mystery stories? Do they dream of becoming world-famous super sleuths? If so, these detective writing prompts are sure to please!

1.Tricks of the Trade

Imagine you are a private investigator who must gather clues for a strange case in a quiet fishing village. Describe how you will you dress, act, and speak to blend in with the local residents.

2. The Art of Deduction

Ask a family member if you can borrow a purse or a pair of shoes. After studying these items, write down everything you can learn about their owner using only your senses of sight, touch, and smell.

3. Secret Weapons

Technology provides modern-day detectives with many tools they simply didn’t have two hundred years ago. Compare and contrast the objects on a detective’s desk in Victorian England with the items in a detective’s office today.

4. The Jury is Out

In your opinion, should a detective be excused for breaking the law if his actions result in punishment for criminals and justice for the innocent? Develop your answer in paragraph form.

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

Photo: Images Money, courtesy of Creative Commons

6 writing strategies for wordy kids

Writing strategies to help highly verbal children create more concise, manageable stories

I often write about reluctant writers and their struggles to produce just a few sentences.

But what do you do with an enthusiastic, highly verbal student who (when left unchecked) scrawls out a 19-page tome? How can you encourage this eager child—and her boatload of ideas—while helping her write a more manageable story?

Today we’ll take a look at some strategies for reining in wordy writers.

The Problem with Long Stories

Teaching children to self-edit is an important goal. Most kids already have a hard time finding their own errors, but it can be completely overwhelming when they’re faced with that stack of 19 pages to edit, polish, and revise.

Not only that, long stories are often filled with tangents that wander away from the main action, so it’s wise to teach kids to narrow their focus and write concisely.

Until your child has developed the skills to plan, organize, and write cohesively, you’ll want to guide her to write stories of a more manageable length. At first, encourage her to stick to a fixed number of paragraphs. If she wants to embellish and expand (or even write a novel), she can do that in her free time.

In most cases, stories that are super long have these common characteristics: 

  • Overly broad topic
  • Many characters
  • A number of different settings
  • Many plots, subplots, and rabbit trails
  • Long, wordy sentences or run-ons

Writing Strategies for Wordy Kids

Rather than try whittling down a long story into a shorter one, it’s usually much cleaner to start over. Challenge your child to keep her new story to five paragraphs or two typed pages by following a few simple guidelines.

1. Narrow the topic.

Instead of tackling a vast subject like the Ohio flood of 1913, it often helps to take a mental snapshot—zeroing in on one moment in the midst of a bigger experience.

2. Use fewer characters.

Perhaps she could write about one main character who must save his sister as the flood waters rise. Or, she could focus on a member of the Akron fire department who helps one family get to safety.

3. Stick with one setting.

Many changes in scene and setting add to a story’s length. Though a verbal child might want to have multiple scenes in her story, suggest that she settle on one or two. 

4. Limit the passage of time.

Writing about an event that spans days or weeks pretty much guarantees that the story will be long and involved. But if she sticks to a time frame of several hours, she’ll more easily manage the story details. 

5. Choose details wisely.

Details are important! They add color and interest, and they engage the reader. By all means, encourage her to describe characters, emotions, settings, and events. At the same time, caution her that trying to fit in all of her great ideas can bog down the writing or steer her off course. 

6. Be precise and concise.

Enthusiastic writers enjoy words, don’t they? But often, their stories are tangled with awkward sentences and long strings of adjectives.

Without discouraging your student from developing a more mature writing style, explain that long sentences and big words don’t always produce good writing. Guide her to use simple language and choose more precise words.

A helpful strategy is to first invite her to write a skeleton of each sentence that includes a subject and predicate. Once she has the basic story structure in place, she can carefully choose modifiers, sentence variations, figurative language, or other details to expand each sentence and make it more colorful.

Even if their prose is a bit over the top, we’re thrilled when one of our children finds joy in writing. In what ways do you guide your wordy young author to write more concisely?

Image courtesy of bugphai / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Spring photo writing prompts

Excite a child's imagination with these photo-inspired spring writing prompts!

CHILDREN seem to burst with imagination this time of year. Don’t let them keep their ideas and stories locked inside! Inspire them to create wonderful worlds of fancy with these delightful spring picture writing prompts.

Mysterious Meadows

Many years ago, a delivery boy disappeared in this quiet field of flowers. The only thing he left behind was his faithful bicycle. What clues will you discover when you look deeper in this meadow? Where did the boy really go? Why did he leave his bicycle behind?

Excite a child's imagination with these photo-inspired spring writing prompts!

Locked in Stone

When the winter snows melted, the townspeople discovered a girl who had turned to stone. Write a story about this girl, using at least four of these words: spell, message, sunrise, water pitcher, shoes, twin sister, royal stables.

Excite a child's imagination with these photo-inspired spring writing prompts!

A Garden Guest

You wake up in a strange cottage and hear voices in the garden. Who will you meet along the garden path? What instructions will they give you, and what will happen if you don’t obey?

Excite a child's imagination with these photo-inspired spring writing prompts!

If you enjoy writing and journal prompts like these, be sure to check back each week for more Writing Prompt Wednesdays!

Photos: bm.iphone, Elliott Brown, and MAClarke21, courtesy of Creative Commons.
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