“Write a paragraph about celebrating Christmas.”
Seems easy enough, right? But to struggling writers, this kind of assignment is not only unhelpful, it’s also fear-inducing—for the simple reason that it’s just too vague.
The 5 Ws
All children—but especially reluctant writers—benefit from a blueprint that lets them know what’s expected and how to achieve their goal. Using the 5 Ws—who, what, when, where, why (and also how)—helps children organize their thoughts before writing. It’s a great brainstorming tool that alleviates the insecurity of writer’s block and encourages more fluent writing.
A Blueprint for Writing
Create a simple graphic organizer to help a young or reluctant child brainstorm, plan, and organize a paragraph about celebrating Christmas.
- Who celebrates Christmas with me?
- What things do we do? How do we celebrate? In what ways?
- When do we celebrate?
- Where do we celebrate?
- Why do I celebrate Christmas?
Make It Unique
Older, motivated, or more articulate children can also follow this plan, but instead of writing one paragraph, they can write a longer story by developing a new paragraph to answer each question.
And all children should know that it’s okay to rearrange the questions in the order they like best (for example, they might want to start out explaining why).
Use Word Banks
Your children will probably find it helpful to use word banks so they have a pool of vocabulary words available to them. A list of words about celebrating Jesus’ birth can be found at Christmas word banks, part 1: Jesus is born. Also see Christmas word banks, part 2: Ho, ho, ho! for a different assortment of holiday-themed words.