Fun Writing Projects for Reluctant Writers

Written with Permission

By Tamara Christine Van Hooser


Young Kelly talks your ear off for hours on end with stories filled with wonder and imagination, but as soon as you ask her to write, the “clunk” in her spirit is almost audible as her enthusiasm quickly fades. You hear protests like “I can’t write!” and “Writing is boring!” and “I hate writing!” Cue the heaving, sighing, scowling, and rolling eyeballs.

If you live with this child, you know as her parent that a lack of creativity is not the problem. A child’s imagination often sends the ideas flowing so fast from her head that she gets frustrated when her hand cannot keep up. Others view writing as a pointless hoop to jump through just to prove to an adult that they know what seems patently obvious to them.

When you say “writing,” many children are overwhelmed because their thoughts run immediately to large chunks of text, complex plots, spelling, and punctuation. Keep in mind that not everyone has to produce great novels as did C. S. Lewis or Madeleine L’Engle. Written communication takes many forms: business memos, quarterly reports, letters, shopping lists, advertisements, recipes, navigational directions, scripts, programs, posters, speech notes, vision statements, grant proposals, and more. Some kids will be good at the imaginative while others excel at the factual explanations. Some writing forms need lots of words and some just a few. Show them that you don’t have to be a great storyteller to be a good writer.

Topical Projects

Writing does not take place in an experiential vacuum. Before the child can write anything, he must have something to write about—preferably something in tune with his natural interests. So try giving your unenthusiastic writer an authentic audience by integrating writing into a creative project. By taking the emphasis off the writing, you bypass protest triggers and get the children writing before they think about what they are doing.

Map an Adventure

Action. Adventure. Excitement. If your child craves the exhilaration of thrilling plots, start with a geography lesson on map-making. Challenge her to create a map of an imaginary setting. Use intriguing place names and make notes of the exciting plot ideas for each map location, the challenges the characters face, or ways that the geography helps solve a problem. Read through the notes and fill in connecting details. Type and illustrate the story. Bind it as a book and hold a read-aloud debut.

Game Factory

Some children who dread the notion of creating intricate plots excel at factual description. Examine the instructions for several board games and identify the key elements of useful instructions: parts list, objective, how to play, and end game criteria. Split the children into two or more groups, or coordinate the project with another homeschool family. The children’s task is to create a game board, pieces, cards, or other necessary elements and write a detailed list of game instructions. Hold a game day to let the children play one another’s games and leave feedback on how easy it was to follow the instructions.

Inventor Extraordinaire

The condensed language of advertising slogans and product descriptions may be just the thing to jump-start a young inventor’s persuasive writing. Tell the child she has been hired as an inventor and ask her to imagine what she might invent. Provide raw materials to build a model of her invention. Then ask her to create a print advertisement to convince others to buy it.

Science Instructor

Does your child aspire to great scientific discoveries and relish teaching others? Ask him to create an interactive, hands-on science experiment. Once the experiment is set up, he should make a list of the steps for another person to follow to replicate the experiment and observe the results.

Master Chef

For a family that cooks together, creating a cookbook provides a natural pathway for more learning, with applications in math and nutrition. Have the child choose favorite recipes in each menu category you want to include in the cookbook, i.e. breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, appetizer, entrée, salads, vegetables, fruits, breads, desserts, and drinks. Ask the child to copy the recipes and add a short teaser description of each dish. Illustrate the cookbook, bind it, and make copies to distribute to others.

Story Models

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