Gresham is 6, and finishing first grade. His handwriting was so neat when he was learning to form the letters, but now that we are past learning how to write the alphabet and he can spell quite a few words, his writing has gotten faster and messier. He is also less interested in writing. I found this to be true for Aidan at this age too, so maybe it’s a stage?
We are working on doing a good job even if it’s not something you want to do, but at the same time, it helps to find some real-life reasons for writing. It’s motivating to know that someone is going to need to be able to figure out what you wrote!
8 Real-Life Ways to Get Kids Writing:
1. Make a sign for a lemonade stand. We have done this several times over the years! During our neighborhood garage sales, I have often let the boys sell bottled water and sodas. They make signs on posterboard that tell what drink options are for sale and what the prices are. Summer is a fun time to do this. And, you can fit in math practice as well as writing as they count the coins that come in! We subtract the money that we spent on the drinks from the boys’ earnings (usually just the money for the drinks they actually sold if they would come out negative otherwise) so it’s a good lesson in business and finance principles too!
2. Make a menu for a pretend restaurant. Have your child come up with a name for a pretend restaurant and create a menu with food choices and prices, etc. Then set up a table with play food and dishes and have fun playing restaurant! You can provide a pad for writing down orders to encourage more writing.
3. Write letters. In our age of e-mail, letter writing is becoming a lost art! Write and mail letters to family or friends. Making cards with pictures or drawings might make letter writing more fun. In the fall, we made cards with crayon leaf rubbings. Those were fun to make and send!
4. Write a story, and turn it into a book with a cover and illustrations. Gresham recently wrote a story about two dragons. After we edited his story, he carefully re-copied each page and drew pictures. The finished product was really great, and I think that the thought of the end product helped motivate him to do his best work. We made our book with construction paper, but you can also purchase blank hardcover books to write in (Amazon affiliate link). These are so fun, and they make kids feel like real authors!
5. Write a story using photos for the pictures. Use toys to create a story by setting up some scenes and photographing them. Then, print out the photos, and have your child write a story to go with the pictures. For an example, check out the story we did using Aidan’s favorite bear. We have also created a story using toy elephants in our flower beds. We had two adult elephants and three babies, and the story was about the elephant family going on a walk and one of the babies getting lost. So fun, and those kinds of projects are the ones you can save forever!
6. Grocery list. Give your child a clipboard and paper and have them write a grocery list. I have done this both by dictating or by having the child copy the list. Have them write down 8 or so items, and then they can take the list to the store and shop for those items. Bring a pencil so that they can cross things off as they go. This has the added benefit of encouraging better behavior at the grocery store. As I write this, I’m wondering why I don’t do this more often?
7. Write a play to act out. We haven’t done this yet, but it’s on our list for this summer!
8. Make a museum. Before I had kids, I taught science to groups of homeschoolers. We had a blast putting together “museums” made up of all of the children’s projects! They always put extra effort into their projects because they knew that they were going to get to show them off. It would be a lot of fun to do a nature museum with shells and rocks collected from a trip or visits to the park. Kids can research their rocks, etc. to see what type they are and create signs and posters that give information about their specimens.
The boys really enjoy writing letters to each other to send in our family postal service. We don’t have this out all the time, but we get it out from time to time, and it’s really motivating for everyone!
What ideas do you have to getting kids to write?