8 Real-Life Ways to Get Kids Writing

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!

8 Real-Life Ways to Get Kids Writing

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.

Real-Life Ways to Get Kids Writing

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?


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  1. C May 19, 2013

    This is horrible advice. I find your blog sexist and one track. This can be just as much fun for girls as it is for boys. I bet you still think blue is just for boys and purple a girl color. I will be removing you from pinterest.

    1. Amy May 19, 2013

      The name of the blog? Some people... Frugal fun for BOYS. My guess is this about what the writer does with her BOYS.

    2. Shannah May 19, 2013

      Haters gonna hate.

    3. Sarah May 20, 2013

      Yes, as the other commenters have said, my blog is called "Frugal Fun for Boys" because I have all boys. This blog is from the perspective of a mom of all boys because that is what I have, but I have not written on any post that the ideas cannot be used for girls also!

      1. aubrey Jun 24, 2014

        never mind them... i like your blog... i have an only child (BOY!) and i learn a lot from you... we cannot please everyone and no one is forced to read your blog, up to everyone if they want to learn something.. its not anyone's job to judge who is roght or wrong, which is deserved or not, but to uplift and help the broken ones... thats from joel osteen fb post... :) keep writing and enlightening us!!!

      2. Marlene Jun 23, 2015

        Love your blog ideas. I figure you have boys by the blog link. As a mother of 2 boys I can totally understand. These are the things you do for your boys and you are sharing. People can be so one sided and so mean. I often start off a project for boys and in the process it ends up for boys and girls. Keep doing what you are doing. Thank you for sharing your fun stuff with the rest of us.

    4. Marnie May 20, 2013

      Yikes! I'm hoping this comment is spam! Sarah's blog is one of my favorites because her ideas are frugal. Love the BOYS part but I don't always associate her blog with that aspect.

    5. Lin May 24, 2013

      There is research out there showing how the typical mind of a boy vs. a girls are different. Even research done on the brain of a developing fetus! The Institute For Excellence In Writing expresses this research to people in some of its presentations and DVD's

    6. tara Mar 19, 2014

      I have 2 girls and one son that I am currently homeschooling and I love this blog. Great info for both, and since my son is the youngest I have less experience teaching him so I really appreciate your gender specific ideas as well as he definitely has a different learning style.

      Sad to see how mean people can be - I appreciate your blog! Please keep up the great work.

    7. valerie cervantes Mar 25, 2014

      This blog is great..what is wrong with you?

    8. steph Jun 12, 2015

      wow. I would not like to be C's children :(( lol!!

  2. Jennifer May 20, 2013

    Hello! I LOVE these great ideas and this is Just what I needed for my oldest son. Thanks! BTW is it sexist that I, too, only have boys? Therefore I only need advice/ideas for BOYS! LOL, some people!

  3. Amy May 20, 2013

    The title of the POST is ways to get KIDS to write. Be kind!

  4. Yvonne Blake May 20, 2013

    Great post! I am featuring you on my writing blog -

    (I'd love to see your boys become Polliwog Kids.)

  5. michele May 20, 2013

    I too only have Boys. This blogs is gret for those of us who have boys, and yes everything on here can be used for Girls too But If I had a blog about my Life with my boys I would cater to the Boy Gender because that is my life, If you feel this blog is being sexist so be it and do not read it get your head out of your bubble and see it as helping all. Good job on what you do I have been following you for over a year, God Bless you and your family for giving us idea's and strength and continu to do you work.

  6. Jennifer B. May 20, 2013

    Great ideas! I have all boys too, but even if I did not I could certainly see girls doing these things too! My boys just did restaurant menus this weekend. One's restaurant is called "The Skipper" and the other is "Racing Raspberry". I get such a kick out of seeing their creativity! And yes, it's amazing how well my 6 year old can write when it is something he is interested in doing. :)

  7. Brook May 20, 2013

    Well, I think these are great ideas for all my kids, 5 girls and 1 boy. Thanks!

  8. mother of 3 May 20, 2013

    I homeschool my 3 boys (ages 5, 7, & 9) and I do find it a challenge to get them to write at all! A few things we've tried that they really seem to enjoy is writing a recipe (we then tried to make and eat them too). 5 minute (or 10 minute writing) were I set a timer and they write anything; lists, the alphabet, sight words, a story for 10 minutes without stopping. They seemed to like knowing it was only for a few set minutes. We bought mini mailboxes for a dollar around valentines day and they can write notes to each other-- short and sweet. I love all these ideas too; I'm always looking for ways to get them to write.

  9. Susan Syddall May 20, 2013

    I was so sorry to read the first comment on this post. Someone surely has misunderstood the purpose of your blog!

    Your posts have been a source of inspiration for our family for sometime. You've written about so many fantastic ideas that can be used by children - boys and girls!

    I sincerely value your time and effort as well as your willingness to share ideas with other families. It takes a lot to write and maintain a blog!!!

    So please ignore the negative comment and continue to write! I know our family for one LOVES what you're doing!!!

  10. Phillippa May 20, 2013

    I'm curious to know what might be so 'horrible' about the advice, as the offended poster states.
    The content includes GREAT advice. As to the bit about sexist and one track. Get real. There is a real education crisis - amongst other crises in our culture. This educational and fun blog, written by a mother of boys, with a focus on teaching children in their element, simply shines.

  11. Joyce @Childhood Beckons May 20, 2013

    Thank you for such a fantastic post with really fun tips. I love number four because it is such a great keepsake as well!

    I'm sorry you've had a rude comment, but I'm so happy to see so many more people feel the same as I do. We love your blog and appreciate all the ideas you share.

  12. jackie May 20, 2013

    You know what warms my heart, Sarah? How supportive your followers are, and how quick they were to express their support and love for you and your blog. That rocks.

  13. Denisse May 21, 2013

    You bless me, I read from Chile South America, I have 3 children and your blog is fantastic, thanks!

  14. Kristi Stephens May 21, 2013

    Great list! I especially love the museum idea.

    My 5 year old son has been rather resistant to writing and his fine motor skills are rough. He is a huge NASCAR fan, so recently I started having him write letters to his favorite drivers. So far he's gotten one letter back including pictures that he hung on his wall! Now he's hooked and begs to do handwriting (aka: letter writing to the driver of the day)! :)

    1. Amanda Bush May 23, 2013

      Wow! That is just AMAZING! My son is the same age with a disdain for writing and lacking fine motor skills as well. I'm still looking for that perfect thing to draw him in. Kudos to you for finding it!!

  15. Stephanie May 21, 2013

    My daughter hates to write. I really love this idea. I have been looking for ways to inspire her. I would like to invite you to link up this post to my Money Saving Monday Link Up so others can find this great idea as well. I hope to see you there.

    Thank You,


  16. Tanya May 26, 2013

    Yikes! I have one of each and I read this post with my daughter in mind. I'm not seeing the sexist part since all throughout you said "your child" and not "your son". Oh well, can't please everyone. I loved this post and am already planning how to write a book and a play to act out with my kids! Thanks for the inspiration!

  17. Juanita May 27, 2013

    o my dear !! Some people's worlds are so small and need everything catered specifically to them on a silver platter! ... these suggestions are fantastic and have encouraged me to think of ways I can introduce a love of writing for my grandchildren ... I think we may begin with making a couple of post boxes (one for their home and one for mine) ... please keep sharing your ideas .. they're great :)

  18. Yvonne May 29, 2013

    Thanks for the ideas. My son is 6 years old. He doesn't want to write. So I am looking forward to trying some of these to get him to write. Please keep sharing your ideas.

  19. Lorette Jun 1, 2013

    I only discovered your blog today but loved it within minutes. I had such a laugh at the first comment. I'm also grateful for your advice and ideas like the rest of the women above (oh sorry, I should not say women, that might be sexist). I have 3 small kids (live in South Africa) and will be homeschooling, so I need people like you. Will keep following your blog.

  20. Hannah Jun 7, 2013

    I'm a nanny of two boys (ages 4 and 7), and there are some awesome ideas on this website for our summer fun. Thanks!

    1. Sarah Jun 7, 2013

      Thanks for your comment, Hannah! I was a nanny for 3 years during college, and a lot of my ideas got their beginnings back then - I had to find ways to keep the kids busy!

  21. Kasien Jun 8, 2013

    For those of you with young sons (5,6,7,8) who are resistant to writing, don't panic. It definitely improves with their own natural maturation. Just keep all efforts positive, and separate the act of writing, which is physically hard for them, from the process of thinking, creating a story, and organizing those thoughts into words. For example, I had my son draw racecourses for his cars, and scenes for his dinosaurs (I'd say "Does he have a house?" And he would add a house to his scene.). However, when it came time for writing a story etc, I would have him dictate the story to me. I have found dictation to be wonderful for helping my kids to write stories. It frees the child's brain to create and organize words...but it also lets the child see the benefit of being able to write proficiently. Another plus is that my kids loved that I was working together with them on a project.

  22. Allison Carlson Sep 2, 2013

    Get Vimala Rodgers book Character Building Through Handwriting......and teach your child to write and build your child's character and self-image at the same time!

  23. Tammy Sep 3, 2013

    One way my kids got encouraged to write was through SCAVENGER HUNTS. We would use post-it notes with clues written on them. Even if it was just one word, such as "LAMP". Not only does it require writing, but it also helps for reading. After the hunt, the next person creates a new hunt. They can be indoors or outdoors.
    Another method is through journal writing. They can create their own journals, or you can do a fill in the blank journal. My boys loved this because they were keen on the "secret spy" feeling they got with the privacy of a journal. (...and of course, girls can do it too!) :)

  24. Janet Sep 17, 2013

    I think your blog is just fine. I take it as it is Frugal Fun For Boys because you have all boys. I didn't think the ideas were just for boys only. They can easily be used for girls as well. We had five boys & five girls & raised two granddaughters & now have one great granddaughter & two great grandsons in our care & just became great-great grandparents to a new grandson. Although much older than most of you young parents I am always looking for new ideas. I love your site. Keep on posting.

  25. Leslie Sep 29, 2013

    I'm 62..never saw your site before. I now have my 6 yr old grandaughter and 4 yr. old grandson left with me so I can raise them..my home is filled with more love now..and I constantly do things with my g.kids...be it cooking, painting, creating a project, chalk,nature walk and projects, swimming.Been unemployed, trying to make ends meet.whatever I love to find new ideas. We hardly even have time to fit in a tv show..we are active...and I have 10 metal bars in my back, spacers in my side, plate in my neck, arthritic fingers that hardly close.
    You are refreshing..boys girls..geez..lets have fun. What an immature remark...
    ps I also teach pre school and love new innovative , fun ideas.

  26. Beth Dec 22, 2013

    Just wanted to chime in that I'm also in love with this blog, and the first commenter will undoubtedly never realize how much she limits herself with her mindset. I have a 6yo girl and a 4yo boy. 6yo is the kind that school was made for..likes worksheets, coloring, sitting still and working on things. 4yo is....well, a boy! So I can't put a work sheet in front of him and expect him to get the same satisfaction out of completing it. (besides, he's **4**). So just like every other parent here, I have to find ways to engage *him*. And yes, it's not surprising that 6yo feels the need to 'assist' whenever we get started.

    For the record, I used your candy corn trebuchet idea when the whole family was gathered for Thanksgiving (although we modified with mini marshmallows as we did not want random passers by winding up with candy corn shaped bruises). ALL the cousins, and most of the aunties and uncles got in on that action. To me, "Frugalfun4boys" is all in how you read it. "C" apparently read it as "Frugalfun4(ONLY)boys". Seems like everyone else reads it as "Frugalfun4boys(ANDWHOEVERALLELSE). Cheers, and thanks for all the great ideas!

  27. Stephanie L. Robertson Apr 15, 2014

    Great ideas! I'm trying to come up with ideas for working with my dd's 4th grade class. I do freelance writing/editing, and I decided to volunteer so that the kids would have an enrichment class. (We're private school, so we can pretty much do this kind of stuff all the time without silly gov't restrictions.)

    Thanks for sharing, and I hope that you'll come and visit me at www.thewritesteph.com! :-)

  28. charlene May 2, 2014

    Hey, love your blog, and just for the record, I find it pretty obvious it's not JUST for boys, and that you love your boys. Thanks for sharing your experience and successful trials. All the best.

  29. Mama H. Aug 21, 2014

    Oh my gosh!just ignore that post!I have 6 children and a little one on the way,2 boys and soon to be 5 girls.we All use ur ideas and have ever since I found ur blog.surely it was spam or something,that's the most ridiculous thing iv ever heard!Keep doing what ur doing,mama.Your awesome!!!

  30. Gloria McClure May 29, 2015

    Wonderful ideas.... I will be implementing some this weekend. Love the museum idea - I will also invite family over for opening night at the museum and maybe even serve a fruit and cheese platter! (Pairing with lemonade to drink - instead of wine)

  31. Gloria M May 29, 2015

    .Wonderful ideas.... I will be implementing some this weekend. Love the museum idea - I will also invite family over for opening night at the museum and maybe even serve a fruit and cheese platter! (Pairing with lemonade to drink - instead of wine).

  32. Charlie Jul 9, 2015

    So funny that first comment about this blog being sexist! lol
    You can customize it for your specific children and their gender/interests. And you did that for your boys. The blogs name is after all Frugal fun for BOYS, but i guess she didn't notice the name of the blog or she is just stupid. But she is probably just one of those people that like to make trouble. Even if i felt the way she does i would just have taken the ideas on this post and customized it for my girls. (but i only have boys and that's why I'm following this blog :-). If I had all girls I would probably be following another girly blog and if I had both I'd look for both kinds of blogs. But like I said you only need a little imagination to customize these ideas to suit your own children. Ugh some people...

  33. Teresa Young Aug 16, 2015

    I didn't even consider your blog title when I was reading ideas for my granddaughters. I can see that they are great ideas for when I help with life skills in their home schooling. I loved the museum idea that I could work on and bring their parents in to see after a few months. Obviously, you have 4 boys of your own and have a great idea what works for boys! Thank you!

  34. Lukas Apr 2, 2017

    Awesome blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers?
    I'm hoping to start my own website soon but I'm a little lost on everything.
    Would yyou propose startng with a free platform like Wordpress or goo ffor a
    paid option? There are so many choices oout there
    that I'm completely overwhelmed .. Any ideas?


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