Monday, November 18, 2013

Getting Kids Writing

My kids have been writing in journals since they could form a coherent sentence. While I've had to veto words like 'Poop' and 'Butt,' I've loved watching their minds open to imagination. I feel like imagination is what lets us humans breathe. It's in those moments of creative abandon that I feel we are truly human. It allows us to breathe in our souls and breathe out things created by a force other than reason and logic.  In this post I'll focus on some helpful websites. Once I locate my motivation I'll post about some original ideas. But man that motivation can be an elusive creature to find sometimes.

Here are three of my favorite writing prompt sites for middle/high school students. I loved these because they are based on pictures or .gif files to get their brains cranking out creative energy.

Writing Prompts

Photo Prompts

Wilson College has a list of some fantastic prompts that will get high schoolers writing a more lengthy passage. If you have an advanced Jr. High student I think they can handle most of these also. 

A sample entry:

 Describe the room of one of the following: a high school student about to drop out; a cashier who has just won the lottery; a faded movie star who still thinks she's famous; a paranoid person, etc (see full list of suggestions in What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers). Be as detailed as possible.

A few favorites for elementary age:

Age K-6. You can choose the age-appropriate level on the first screen. 

These are fun ones to get them writing more short story types of entries. They are geared towards maybe 3-5 graders. These have spurred on many that I can take and branch off of to create my own prompts for them. 

Here are a few:

  1. Imagine if cows gave green juice instead of milk!  What would the world look like?
  2. Imagine that all the streets are rivers? How do you get around?
  3. What would happen if it really did rain cats and dogs?

If you're a Pinterester, here's a board with tons of links to great writing helps for elementary-aged students.

All ages:

This site (Daily Teaching Tools) has 180 journal prompts, one for every school day. These are fairly age neutral, maybe tweeking a few so as to make them fit the specific age-level. There are so many here that even if you only journal once a week you'll have plenty to pick from. 

Here are two examples:

 *Write a thank you note to a friend who gave you onion and garlic-flavored chewing gum.
journal writing prompts
 *Draw an imaginary constellation. Write a story such as ancient people might have told about it.

This site has some thoughtful questions to get them thinking about worldview and current events. This is maybe for slightly older kids, but some of them could be modified for a younger writer. I have found that my younger kids can be asked some pretty deep questions and they actually have insightful ideas on how to answer them. For younger kids, you could even use some of these but have them answer them orally while you write their answers down. 

Here are a few they gave:

  1. What do you like and dislike about elderly people?
  2. Do you believe in ghosts or spirits? Why or why not?
  3. Write about a time you had high hopes for something and got let down.
  4. Is war ever justified?

And remember, journaling is all about creativity. I try not to correct spelling or grammar in these. I just want them writing and expressing their thoughts. I do veto certain words because well, not every story has to end up with pooping horses.

I hope this helps. If you've got other sites that have been helpful, leave them in the comments so that others can steal them too. 

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