Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fast and Fun Writing with Kids

Perhaps you've picked up that I'm keen on encouraging kids to read and write every day? In fact, I wrote an article about it recently, Help Kids Become Readers and Writers, where I suggested we have read o'clock and write o'clock each day - in other words, we make daily family reading and writing a habit.

When write o'clock rolls around, sometimes all we need is an idea for writing that won't take too long, will motivate kids, and remind them that writing is fun. Here are a couple of Book Chook ideas, and some online resources that allow us to do just that.


1. Ban Talking. Yes, you heard it here first, folks. This is a great way to encourage writing. We take advantage of the human's desperate need to communicate and ensure that pencil and paper are used instead! A network of computers means you can go digital with the idea too.

I would suggest a short period of time, because we're not aiming for torture, just fun. If your kids have friends over, you could impose a ban on them talking to you, and insist on hand written and delivered requests for refreshment. If it's afternoon snack time, everyone gets a snack AND a pad and pencil, and that's how everyone communicates. It also cuts down on talking with a mouth full!

2. Write Lists. A list can be as short or long as we like. Brainstorm a few list topics you think your kids will have no trouble with, and choose one for write o'clock. Some that have worked well for me: What I would wish for, Things that would make great birthday presents, My friends, Great names for a puppy, My favourite toys (or books, movies, characters, songs etc.)

3. Play a word game like Hink Pink, but write the guesses and clues instead of speaking.

4. Play Poem Swap. You write one line of a poem, and your child writes the next, with the same rhyme and rhythm. So if you write, "I can see a little dog", your child might write, "He is sitting on a log."

Online Resources:

Make a poster at Automotivator. I told you about this one on Cow Appreciation Day. It seriously only takes minutes and gives a great result.

Make a poster at Keep Calm and Carry On. Very simple, only five short lines of text, or five words.

I enjoyed making comics at Write Comics, Strip Creator, and MakeBeliefsComix.

But the cartoon creator I use most is ToonDoo. Speech bubble and caption text count as writing too!

Create an avatar and use it to write a short character description or profile. You'll find some via my articles Writing with Avatars 1 and Writing with Avatars 2

Use Babymail. Write a message for someone and have the site's voice deliver it.

Blabberize also allows kids to make a picture speak the message they have written.

At Bookr, kids can make their own very simple caption book, using images from Flickr. You can read about it in my article, Have Fun and Develop Literacy Skills with Bookr.

At Bubblr, they can add speech bubble and text to images that are fetched from Flickr.

At imagegenerator.net, children can add text to speech bubbles in pictures of Dumbledore, Napoleon etc.

At hetemeel.com, they can add words to images of Einstein, an Uncle Sam Poster etc. I told you about both these in my recent article, Quick Writing Online

If you're interested in other online editors that allow kids to create stories online, you might like my article, Sharing Stories Using Online Editors. And I wrote about a simple yet powerful technique for encouraging young readers and writers in Nurturing Readers and Writers.

(Photo courtesy Photos8.com)


  1. one of my favourites was a family journal where the kids wrote a line each day- and a holiday journal is great- getting dad to write in it was important also- I'm very passionate in getting kids to write- handwriting is so organic...and now I have some journals to look through for writing material...

  2. Those journals must be treasured family keepsakes too I suspect, Lorraine. A line a day isn't onerous, yet it all adds up to a whole-family perspective on daily life, or a holiday.

    Thanks for adding value to my article. Great idea!

  3. My cherubs are too little to read and write independently (3.5 yrs and 14 months) but I'd like to know if I can still ban talking? :-D

  4. I think people call that "sleep"!

  5. Now you're just being cruel

  6. That's the trouble with cyber communication, you can't pick up the fellow-feeling, empathy, and complete lack of cruelty. (Of course, the good thing is you also can't pick up the "Oh boy, am I ever glad I don't have young kids living with me!")

  7. These are fantastic ideas. My mom always made us write our requests if she was on the telephone. I think this had more to do with giving her time to finish her phone conversation than us writing but it accomplished both!

  8. Your mom sounds like my kind of wonderful!


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