Active Engagement: Keep the Kids Writing

During these long winter days and the birth of social distancing, it is important to find creative and out-of-the-box ways to maintain the active engagement of students of all ages. With a little planning you can keep them all writing.

Here are a few of our favorites for elementary, middle, and high school students…in fact, the whole family can play!


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Rhyme Race (for 2 or more players):  

Put a word (any word, look around the room and pick one!) at the top of a page. Set a timer for 90 seconds and list all the possible rhymes you can think of. The person with the greatest number of unique rhymes wins! For more fun, play best out of 10.

Paragraph Palooza: 

Assign points for all the elements of a paragraph and challenge your student to write a paragraph using as many elements as possible to score big! For a greater challenge, make the elements your student struggles with worth more points to encourage their use. Score the paragraph and celebrate each increase in points.

Suggested points: capital letters (1), end punctuation (2), adjectives (3), examples (2), closing sentence (2), complete sentences (1)…add your own!

Paragraph Pals:

Use a large poster board and cut out the shape of a paper doll person. Using construction paper, draw and cut out a simple dress pants/shorts. These should be a bit bigger than the initial body. On the clothing cut outs, draw horizontal lines about 3/4 of an inch apart.

On a separate piece of paper, have your child write an autobiography of 8-10 sentences about themselves. Proofread with them and then have them copy their autobiography neatly on the clothing.

Decorate the “pal” with yarn for hair, markers for shoes and jewelry etc. Glue on the clothes. For more fun, make pals for the whole family!

Middle School

Rhyme Race (Advanced): 

Follow the guidelines from above for the Rhyme Race, but write three words across the top and play the game 3 times. At the top of the first column write A, at the top of the second column write B, and at the top of the third column write C.

Find as many rhymes as possible for column A in 90 seconds. Compare rhymes among all players and cross out duplicate rhymes. Do the same for column B and C. Then choose an end rhyme pattern (AABB, ABAB, ABCB, ABBA) and write a 2 stanza quatrain poem using only the rhymes left on your sheet of paper.

Who, What, Where?:

Have your student write 5 characters on a slip of paper and crumple it up. Toss it into a bowl/cup labelled Who? Do the same for 5 problems and 5 places. Put them in bowls/cups properly labelled. Select one from each bowl and write a short tale using the elements.

For family fun, have everyone write 3-5 Who? cards etc…choose one set for the whole group to write about individually. Read your new stories out loud!

Stifled Sentences:

Challenge your student to grow their vocabulary and use new words. Have them write a sentence without a particular letter of the alphabet. Let them choose a topic or provide one for them. “Write a sentence about the beach without the letter e.” Encourage the use of a thesaurus if need be to expose them to new words.

High School

Mirrored Poems:

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery – and the best way to learn!

Research famous poets and print an example of their work. Analyze the poem and break it down. Is there a rhyme scheme? Is there a consistent syllable pattern? Is there a pattern for the number of lines per stanza or line length?

Once the analysis is complete, mirror the poem form and write your own.

Some good poets to use include Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, and Emily Dickinson….but use any great poems your student likes!

Stately Sentences:

William Faulkner holds the record for the longest sentence in literature with a 1288 word sentence in his novel Absalom, Absalom!

Test your knowledge of grammar and punctuation to write the longest sentence you can. Use colons, semi-colons, dashes, and properly placed periods to write a lengthy masterpiece. For friendly competition, challenge mom or dad or a sibling to see who can write the longest sentence.

Letter Omission: 

Choose a topic like the beach, the mountains, or another place to write a descriptive paragraph. Write a paragraph of 8-10 sentences that does not use the letter a.

Write the same paragraph (same topic and ideas) without using the letter e this time. (You can use a now.)

Repeat with all of the vowels until you have 5 paragraphs. Read them out loud and see if you notice a change in the tone of the writing depending on which letter was left out. Does one paragraph sound more harsh or more tender? Compare.

Keep them Writing

The goal should be to keep them writing daily: active engagement. Every written piece doesn’t need to be a research paper or amazing haiku. Just keep that pen on paper (or fingers on keyboards) to avoid loss of skill. You might be pleasantly surprised to find your child with a renewed interest or even enthusiasm for a new genre. Just keep them writing!

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