My boys hate to write, so I am always on the lookout for creative ways to capture their attention and entice their cooperation. Through the years we have tried many different types of writing: journal writing, copywork, free writing, and writing poetry or lyrics. Unfortunately none of those activities were met with more than the barest glimmer of tolerance.
In searching for fun ideas to supplement our language arts program, I came up with a few activities that they actually enjoyed so much they begged me to do them again! Here are the winning writing activities for my kids who hate writing.
1. Write in Code
My kids love making up their own ciphers and writing letters back and forth with each other or with their friends. We’ve also experimented with invisible ink letters, writing backwards, and writing in riddles like spies. This writing activity is a perfect tie-in for your history studies. See this history of cryptography for ideas.
2. Round Robin Writing
Much like telling a story in a circle with each person adding one line to the tale, round robin writing is a group activity with potential for many laughs. I asked each of the boys to write a sentence introducing a male character. Then we folded the paper to hide our sentences, swapped papers, and wrote a sentence about a female character. We kept folding, passing, and adding one sentence to our story:
- how they met
- what they said to each other
- a problem they had
- how they solved it
They were hilariously silly stories to read aloud when we were finished. If you want to tie this to your homeschool lessons, have your children write about a character from history or a fictional character in one of your Read-Alouds.
3. Write a Recipe
My boys have cooked enough with me in the kitchen to understand how a recipe is written and what ingredients go well together. One day I challenged them to write up a recipe and then promised that the following week we’d attempt to cook it. Some of the recipes were quite disastrous, but some were actually pretty tasty. We’ve also tried writing a favorite recipe from memory. I find that anytime I can tie food into a writing project, my boys are very happy to participate.
4. Create a Magic Potion
Capitalizing on their love of magic, Harry Potter, and fantasy, I told my children to pretend they were wizards, brewing up a magical potion. They wrote down the ingredients they used, what the potion would do when taken, and directions for preparing the items for a perfect brew. While this is similar to writing a recipe, it allows for much more creativity in expression since they can use made-up ingredients and bizarre directions.
5. Use Online Tools
We once found an online game that allowed my children to make up their own Star Wars comic book pages. They happily typed away, filling in all the thought and word bubbles while picking out characters, background, and other fun illustrations to finish it up. They have used FunEnglishGames.com to write instructions, to debate, and to make up ghost stories. We’ve watched Brainpop videos about the different ways in which writing can be used: to interview someone, to give instructions, write a play, etc. and then try them out in real life applications.
These five activities, while lighthearted and highly motivating for reluctant writers, do actually provide practical writing experiences. You can take any of these projects and then extend it a bit, requiring your children to hone the finished product by editing, proofreading, and publishing.
Letting kids illustrate their work or use a format other than plain white paper can help get them to the final stages of the writing process. They may want to create a digital presentation, a poster, a display board, or some other innovative way to display their project. When you keep writing fun in the early years, you can overcome any reluctance and eventually push your kids towards meatier writing assignments.
About the Author
Joanne Rawson is the author of the blog Our Unschooling Journey. Known around the web as Mother of 3, Joanne began her blog when she first started homeschooling her three boys in 2012. She pulled them out of public school when she realized it was making the whole family miserable.
She overcame her initial feelings of overwhem and grew to adore the homeschool lifestyle, especially the freedom it gives her family for pursing additional interests inside and outside academics!
She lives in Connecticut with her family and enjoys reading, crafting, and traveling... all of which usually ends up on her blog.