Seven Sneaky Ways to Give Your Kids Writing Practice

by Jimmie Lanley on March 17, 2011

Seven Sneaky Ways to Give Your Kids Writing Practice

Writing is one of those things that improves only through practice. Direct instruction is helpful but only as it is applied to yet another writing assignment. Here are some ways to sneak more writing into your child’s routine without his even realizing it’s school.

1.  Emailing

Set up an email account and let your child correspond with friends and relatives. An email account is also good for requesting catalogs or other printed freebies like these posters from the EPA.

ZooBuh! or Kid’s Email are two companies that provide protected email service to children and their parents.

2.  Blogging

Blogging is a fantastic way to give your child a real audience for his writing. Visit Blogging2Learn for direction in helping your child set up a blog.

I’m especially impressed by Eight Thumbs Up, a blog of book, game, and movie reviews written by four siblings.

3.  Penpals

bird stampsThis classic pastime is still alive! Although some people prefer e-pals, my daughter always liked the wait time between letters and sending physical objects through the postal system. Collecting stamps was an added perk.

4.  Postcard Collecting

For younger children, mom will need to do most of the planning for this writing activity while the child merely writes a sentence or two on the postcard. Tweens and teens can arrange their own trades and compose their own messages. I recommend Postcard Kids for this kind of hobby.

5.  Flat Traveler Trading

More of a commitment than postcard trading, flat travelers can be a fantastic way to take a “field trip in an envelope.” Keeping a journal for the flat involves quite a bit of writing.

6.  Keeping a Diary or Journal

Compiling thoughts and dreams in your own blank book is not only writing practice; it can also promote both healing and creativity.

7. Writing Thank You Notes or Notes of Encouragement

Besides writing thank yous for their own birthday or holiday presents, your child could serve as the family’s correspondence secretary and write notes on behalf of the entire family. Recently someone gifted us with four tickets to an expensive performance. I let Sprite compose and write the thank you note for us. The responsibility I gave her caused her to take extra care in the task.

If there haven’t been any gifts recently, ask your church secretary for a list of shut-ins or American soldiers that would enjoy an encouraging note.

Although some of these forms of writing may not directly relate to writing that perfect five paragraph essay, any chance to practice writing in an enjoyable, practical context should be taken. Writing, like math, is a tool we need for real, everyday living. These types of writing tasks demonstrate that truth.

What do you do to sneak in more writing?

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

See Jamie blog March 17, 2011 at 7:59 am

We do all those, except for the Flat Travelers. They are all great ways to sneak in writing! :)

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Melissa March 17, 2011 at 1:32 pm

We’ve done 4. We do 6 and 7 regularly! My boys are getting old enough to do the others!
Glad you shared these!

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Melissa Telling March 17, 2011 at 2:11 pm

zilladog is another good email site for kids. There is a one time $9.95 fee per account. My boys have accounts through this site, and there are lots of good filters in place.

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se7en March 17, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Shopping lists!!! My kids love to write out the weekly list… and often it is just a quick: milk and bread and toothpaste… but depending on who is writing and who needs some extra practice our shopping list can have the most amazing things on it. I expect my husband to show discernment when faced with a weird and wonderful list!!!

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Joyce March 17, 2011 at 2:56 pm

I recently encouraged my 14 year old to start a blog. Due to his love of gaming this is the topic he chose to blog on. I mentioned to him the 8 Tumbs Up which I added to my favorites. You might also want to take a look at this blog for book reviews by kids geared towards tweens, there is also one for teens.
http://readingtween.blogspot.com/

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Stef @ Layton Family Joy March 17, 2011 at 10:13 pm

we do thank you cards and have a pen pal! I also make him write the grocery list (when I’m not rushing for time)!!

love the new header.

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Mindful Drawing March 18, 2011 at 12:19 am

An erasable magic ‘whiteboard’ for in the car for writing games during long travel trips.

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Brian March 18, 2011 at 8:45 am

Found your blog through Heart of the Matter. Great stuff-I’ll be subscribing and passing it on to my wife. I’m a writing teacher-former public high school teacher, but still teaching online and through local coops.

Couldn’t agree more that writing proficiency develops only with practice. These are all great ideas. I wish I could think of another to add!

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marcia at Child in Harmony March 19, 2011 at 8:29 am

My daughter copies song lyrics and my son writes songs. My son has also made it his personal challenge…to use correct grammar, punctuation and full sentences while texting,instant messaging and using FB.
My daughter is starting a blog, posting a picture a day that she takes, and then writing about it.

happy day!

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Nikki March 20, 2011 at 7:02 pm

I appreciate this post very much. It was a great reminder last week when my children needed to get some thank you notes written! My children both have blogs, but I FORGET to set aside time to let them write and add things to their space. My struggle is I have a lot of ideas, but I am weak on the follow through.

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Rebecca March 21, 2011 at 11:09 pm

After finishing a kid’s typing course, I let my son play a few interactive fiction games (text adventures) I knew were suitable. To play, he had to type short imperative sentences such as “take key.” Once he was hooked I knew he would want to create his own. Now he begs to be allowed to work on his text adventure, which involves typing complete descriptive sentences, and getting all the punctuation and spacing correct for the computer to understand.

This isn’t a project for everyone, but if you are interested, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interactive_fiction gives a lot of information. “Lost Pig” and “Snack Time” are two kid-friendly games (many games are not appropriate for children). Writing your own adventure is on par with writing a computer program, but the Inform compiler by Graham Nelson has a natural language interface that makes it easier to get started creating.

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Melissa Taylor March 28, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Just looking for some ideas about kids and blogging and found your site – I love these ideas and just tweeted this post. (@imaginationsoup) I’ll be back!

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Sheila Gregoire May 6, 2011 at 11:56 am

Our girls have blogged, too! My teenager is really getting into it. She posts devotional type stuff for other teens at Throwing Pebbles. And it really does work! It hones their writing skills (and helps them with typing, too!). And she’s learned HTML.

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Jenilee January 7, 2014 at 7:11 pm

great ideas!!

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Meryl van der Merwe July 17, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Going to pin this to my “Writing Fun” Pinterest board and tweet it. I completely agree that giving kids “real” writing is a great way for them to practice. Writing articles for your local paper is another idea. All mine at some point did that as a way to promote their 4-H activities but it had the added benefit of getting them to do a bit of extra writing.
And writing contests – Patriot’s Pen (for middle school) is a great one as there are winners all the way from the local level up to National level. My daughter won a lot of money with that and she isn’t a great writer. After her first year of winning at local level she worked harder each year.
And all mine blogged – and I let them use my Amazon affiliate account so they earned money at the same time.

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