5 fun ways to get your kids writing this summer
Want to get your kids writing this summer without all the fuss? I was talking with a homeschool mom the other day who called writing “one of the most difficult, tear-streaming subjects to teach at home.” It’s hard to get your kids writing, but I’ve found these 5 writing activities get kids writing—the fun way! And they keep tears to a minimum.
1. Character battle (a writing game for 2+)
In this writing game, 2 or more players will create characters that will battle each other using special powers and equipment. This game gets students creating characters, drawing, and writing adventure stories.
- One 3×5 card for each player
- One 6-sided die for each player (or 1 to share)
- A couple sheets of paper
Each player creates a character card
- Flip the 3×5 card to the blank side and turn it vertically
- Choose a name for your character and write it on the top of the card
- On the right-hand side, write down 5 special powers
- You can spend 5 points to give bonuses to your special powers. You could put all 5 bonuses under one power, divide them evenly between each power, or make some powers stronger than others (see examples below).
- On the left-hand side, draw a picture of your character
- In the bottom of the card, draw a picture of equipment, weapons, and armor for your character
- Each player starts with 3 lives (represented with hearts)
Here’s what the basic layout of the card looks like with an example character on the right:
Here are two more examples of completed character cards:
- Players decide where their battle will take place (examples: castle, forest, cliffs, lava field, etc.). If they can’t agree, they can list 6 ideas and roll a die to decide.
- Each player rolls the die, and the player with the highest roll takes the first turn.
- The first player writes an introduction for his/her character. The introduction should bring the character into the setting and briefly describe them. For example, “Wizzard blinks into existence over the lava field. He is wearing a pointed hat covered with stars and a dark red cloak. His white beard reaches to his chest.”
- Play passes to the second player who introduces his/her character.
- Player one then chooses one of his/her special powers, weapons, or equipment to use to attack the other player. The first player then describes this attack on the piece of paper. For example, “Wizzard opens his mouth and huffs flames at Wildman.”
- The second player decides how he/she will react to this attack and writes it down on the paper. For example, “Wild man gets in his car and drives out of the way.”
- Players take turns rolling a die for the power they chose to determine the outcome. In our example, Wizzard was using his Dragon’s Breath skill, which has a +2 bonus. So he rolls the die and adds 2 to his roll. Wildman was using his Drive skill, which has a +0 bonus, so he just rolls the die without a bonus. Whoever rolls the highest after adding bonuses wins. Roll again for ties. The loser loses one life.
- After determining the winner, each player takes turns describing the outcome. Let’s say that Wizzard rolled a 4. He would add his +2 bonus, making his final result 6. Wildman rolls a 4, but he doesn’t have any bonuses. The winner is Wizzard, so Wildman loses one life, and both players describe what happened. Maybe Wizzard writes, “The Dragon’s Breath melts through the windshield of Wildman’s car and singes his back.” Wildman writes, “Wildman’s back gets singed, and Wildman screams in pain.”
- Now, it’s player two’s turn to attack. Repeat steps 5-8.
- Repeat steps 5-8 until one player has lost all his/her lives.
- All players are on the same team. Create bad guys to fight.
- Team battle: Two players fight 2 other players in a head-to-head team battle.
- Cartoon style: Draw this in a comic book style instead of writing it out.
2. Dungeon Scribes online (1 player computer game)
In this role-playing-choose-your-own-adventure game, students play through a computer game where they decide what happens, and each choice gives them a writing prompt or activity. I created this game for my middle school and high schoolers, but late elementary schoolers enjoy it two. Play Dungeon Scribes here.
3. The Random Story Machine (1+ players, print-and-play)
I invented this game for students who couldn’t come up with ideas for stories. They love the randomness and excitement because the story is constantly changing. Print and play the Random Story Machine here. Includes instructions.
4. The “What if . . .?” Game (1+ players, print-and-play)
The “What if . . . ?” game inspires students to rethink movies, books, TV shows, history, and everyday experiences. If they need inspiration for stories, this is a good place to start. Print and play the “What if . . . ?” game here. Includes instructions.
5. Keep a Writer’s Sketchbook
Have your child write for about 10 minutes every day. They might not like this idea, but when you give them one of these writing prompts, show them one of these videos I made for students, or sign them up for my free writing challenge, they will get inspired.
You can do this with a simple notebook or artist’s sketchbook.
This has been so popular with my students that I created my own writer’s sketchbook to keep them motivated with 30 writing prompts, lots of writing strategies, and lots of ways to reuse the book to make it last the summer. You can learn more about my Writer’s Sketchbook here.
What do you do to get your kids writing over the summer?
Let me know what strategies you use in the comments. Let’s help our students avoid summer learning loss and get them improving their writing!