Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Writing Through the Summer

9 Ways to Keep Your Child's Brain Focused (K-5)

Mom and Daughter (Image credit: Corbis)


Those six letters mean the world to children who have just spent the last nine months behind a desk. But while kids are building forts, catching lightning bugs, and eating ice cream, parents can squeeze in some brain-boosting to help them prepare for the next school year. At a young age, children often develop the idea that writing is something to be done only at school. Nothing is further from the truth. Here are nine ways to help your child realize writing can be not only fun, but inspiring!

Travel journal: As you travel, have your child draw or photograph his favorite people or places and keep brief written notes. Photos and descriptions can be about a place, person, or event. Display the finished work at home as your child's first book!

Observation log: Before you go to the pool, park, or zoo, ask your child to observe something in particular: leaves, insects, trees, clouds, birds, etc. As with the travel journal, have him record his observations with drawings and a brief description. Once the topic has been exhausted, turn the page and begin a new topic.

Local newspapers: Check out your community newspaper and search for the children's section. Have your child submit a writing piece or drawing with a short script. Remember to cut out the published piece and put it in the album! If your newspaper doesn't have a children's section, have your child write to the paper and suggest the addition.

Treasure hunt scrapbook: Take your child's favorite things--airplanes, cars, coins, etc.-- and make a game. Have your child search for pictures and articles about their hobby in magazines, newspapers, online, and at the library. Paste the pictures and articles into a scrapbook!

Rainy-day fun: Have your child select a letter of the alphabet in the morning. Throughout the day, collect words that begin with this letter. Older children can select a theme or topic and list all of the related words. Offer an incentive for the most words collected or have a friendly competition! For more rainy-day ideas, pick up Zany Rainy Days by Hallie Warshaw.

Writing online: Some Web sites offer story starters on a weekly basis and then randomly select pieces to feature on the Web. Some sites, such as Global Story Train, will allow your child to write the first, second, or last chapter of a story that has been worked on by other children from around the world. Journal writing has also become a popular pastime for children. Sylvan Learning Center offers free writing journals at www.educate.com/activities. Children are provided with story or thought starters as well as trivia and math problems as part of the journal exercises.

Photos and family journal: Bring out old and new photos and have your child write a phrase, a sentence, or a brief story for each photo. Older children can write a narrative for pictures they really like. This is a creative way to record your family history. Use labels or special blank photo captions. Visit www.lifestorywriting.net/lswkids.htm for more ideas.

Jokes and riddles collection: Have your child write and read riddles or jokes. Understanding humor increases reading comprehension and inference. Have neighborhood children join in and have a small "Original Joke Pool Party" or have a "Stand-up Comedian Night" as a celebration.

Family/friend pen pal: Encourage your child to get a pen pal. A distant relative or a friend who has moved is a good choice. This is a practical way to keep in touch, share values, and practice writing and reading skills. Younger children can draw and include their "message" at the bottom of the page.

Article provided by Sylvan Learning Center