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Writing can be tricky business for kids. Early on, many children have no hesitation as writers. Once they get comfortable with writing (around the end of Kindergarten), they realize there are a number of unspoken rules they've never learned about, and they begin to shut down their creative thinking because they don't want to be wrong.
There are many ways we can foster childrens' writing. For starters, we as parents and teachers need to be a receptive audience.
Before we look with a critical editing eye, we need to point out the positive aspects of their writing. Especially the ideas they're sharing.
Secondly, we need to foster confidence by helping them expand a little at a time. If we want them to grow, they need to build their skill set bit by bit.
The following images are based on a strategy I learned from Anita Archer called
List, Cross-Out, Connect, and Number
It's a series of pre-writing steps that gets kids ideas down immediately. Once the ideas are down, it's a matter of transcribing them into paragraphs.
Before you begin your summary, have paper ready, discuss the book with your child, and be sure the main idea (the theme/lesson/moral) of the story is clear.
Have your child list the items in blue on the page above (main idea, characters, problem, solution, setting (time & place), and any specific details they think should be included.
The next step is for the writer to transcribe their list into a rough draft. This can be the more challenging part. Here's a student example (click on the image for a larger view):
is a Thesaurus/Blog that has various settings and emotional states with word sets from which to choose.
This site could be useful in many ways. It could be used simply as a thesaurus, or it you could use it to begin a piece of writing.
For example, if you wanted to write about someone who is in a dangerous situation, you could go to this site, click on DANGER under the symbolism Thesaurus and you would see:
things like this listed:
Claw marks on tree bark
Broken trees, uprooted trees
The sound of footfalls out of sight
The edge of a cliff
Waves crashing into the reef
There's also an Emotion thesaurus, and a Setting thesaurus.
One way to spark some creativity in your child is to begin by choosing a setting.
Click on the setting, and the words offered up will open up some ideas for them to explore further.
Here are a handful of words from the setting Dragon's Lair:
Dragon, a massive wide cavern, high ceiling, smooth walls from the dragon body scraping the sides, coins, jewels, precious metals, weaponry and other riches scattered on the floor and piled up in adjoining chambers, heat vents, fissures, stalactites and stalagmites, nesting area made from branches
Add some emotion to the scene with Fear :
eyes staring but not seeing
hands gripping something, white knuckles
hands twisting together
leg muscles tightening, ready to run
stiff legs, stiff walking, knees locking
beads of sweat on lip, forehead, trickling down face and back
being frozen; paralyzed
Now the trick is to pick the words you most wish to use as a jumping off point. Perhaps, printing out a couple of these lists and highlighting the most interesting words is a good start. Just add some characters, a problem & a solution and you've got a narrative.
Interactive Writing Websites
These websites offer some creative writing opportunities online. Remember that they're no substitute time with paper and pencil, or a word processor, an audience, and an editor.
is another website similar to Storybird which enables you to choose characters, add them to pages, then write dialog or text to tell a story about the art.
Create a Newspaper Clipping
This site lets you name your newspaper, create a headline, and write a short story. It quickly uses your words to create a jpeg picture that looks like a clipping from a newspaper. Have fun, and be creative.
Make Beliefs Comix - a website where you become the comic strip author. It's free, and lots of fun! There's nothing like making a comic to get the creative juices flowing
Magnetic Poetry - If you've ever played with magnetic poetry before, you know how fun this is. Here's an online version we use in the computer lab.
Writing Fix - Six Traits writing website with numerous strategies and writing prompts to try in class, or at home.
Tikatok - a place where kids can publishtheir own writing.
If you're looking for some resources, there are many places to find them.I'll attach the images on this page in pdf format when I've completed this page.