With the help of the internet and a little creativity, the options for helping your kids keep their writing skills sharp over the Summer can be limitless. Take a little inspiration from the people and sights around you and try a few of these ideas before school rolls back around.
1.) Take a Page from Real Life
Write a biography or historical fiction story based on the life of a grandparent or another relative. This can enhance writing skills while also introducing the student to techniques in interviewing and gathering information. As a bonus, it’s a great way for kids to get to know another relative in a new and different way.
Start the project by helping your child select a specific part of the relative’s life to learn about. This could be anything from military service to a unique travel adventure or hobby. Then, encourage your child to write a list of questions (four or five would be ideal) to ask his or her subject in person or via a video chat. You may wish to record the conversation for your child to listen to again later, or you can help take notes as the two of them talk. Your child can then use the information gathered to either write a mini biography or a creative story based around what was learned in the interview. Either way, make sure to share the story with the interview subject later as a fun memory!
2.) The Story Behind the Story
For a more creative exercise, have your child write a story based on an intriguing photo or piece of artwork. This can be done using any photograph or painting of your choice — even one on the wall in your house — or you can let your child choose from an online gallery. Better yet, if you live near a museum, this could be done as a field trip with a painting the two of you can view in person!
Once you’ve made a selection, have your child study the image and think about what events might have occurred to lead up to what’s happening in it. Prompt your child to mentally rewind and fast-forward the image to envision what he or she thinks the scene would unfold. What details can be seen by closely examining the faces and objects pictured? The resulting story may be straightforward or it may be fanciful, but either way, this is a lesson not only in writing practice but also in observational skills.
3.) A Letter to Yourself
Have your child imagine him or herself 10, 20, or even 30 years in the future (or all three!). He or she can then write a letter to that future self about hopes for that time in his or her life and predictions for the world in general. Use this as a chance to remind your student about the format to use when writing a letter, and don’t forget to include the date!
4.) Write a Summer Blog
Help your child set up a simple, private blog and update it with weekly posts. This can serve as a journaling exercise or could be related to a hobby, sport, etc. It could even turn into a serialized fiction story, if your child is feeling especially creative. Add motivation by possibly sharing the blog with close friends or family members who can comment on each post and positively encourage your child to continue writing. Some ideas for topics beyond a basic journal include:
Recap participation each week in a favorite sport (or in following a sports team)
Write reviews of books, movies, or TV shows, complete with a star-rating system
Make a new kid-friendly recipe and write about it (including pictures!)
5.) Feeling Poetic?
Poems can be easy and fun for kids to write, and they can be a simple way to practice using new spelling or vocabulary words. Give your child a list of three new words related to a theme and challenge him or her to use each of them in a short poem. For example, if your theme is nature, you could use words like “canyon,” “daffodil,” or “centipede”—your selections will depend on your child’s grade level and writing skill. Students who like to draw can finish off the page with an illustration related to the new word(s)!
Lora Wegman is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.