Helping children write about a favorite memory
“But I don’t know what to write about!”
“I can’t think of anything!”
How many times have we heard these cries of anguish when asking our children to face a blank page? And although we may do our best to encourage their creative efforts through the use of topic-specific prompts, sometimes we need to give kids more direction, more of a step-ladder to climb into the clarity of their own thinking.
The next time you’re faced with kids who are absolutely convinced the power of the pen has abandoned them, try breaking the prompt itself down into manageable parts. Doing so allows children to concentrate on one task at a time and to experience feedback in developing their ideas for written expression.
The “I Remember” Activity
Let’s use the prompt “Write about a favorite memory” as an example of breaking a writing topic into smaller chunks of ideas. This activity gives a feeling for the writing process approach and works well with any age.
- Think of five things that have happened to you. Write down each of the five things, beginning with the phrase, “I remember.” When you’ve finished, share your ideas with me.
- Now, write down one name associated with each of the five things you selected.
- Write down the most important of the five senses (taste, touch, hearing, sight, or smell) that goes with each of your “I remembers.”
- Now select the “I remember” you would most like to write about. Share the memory with me.
- Now, writing as fast as you can for ten minutes, see how much of the memory you can get on paper. Don’t worry about punctuation or spelling; you can think about that later, if you like what you’ve written.
- Now, let’s read your story and think of ways to possibly make it even better.
By tackling a topic in this step-by-step manner, students become more confident and skilled in the brainstorming and drafting stages of writing. And as they will discover, fluent writing flows from the power of knowing you have something to say.
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Janet Wagner is a regular contributor to In Our Write Minds. For over two decades, Janet was an elementary and middle school teacher in two Christian academies, a public district school, and a public charter school. She also had the honor of helping to homeschool her two nieces. Janet and her husband Dean live on the family farm in the Piedmont region of north central North Carolina. Currently, she enjoys a flexible life of homemaking, volunteering, reading, writing, tutoring students and training dogs, and learning how to build websites. You can view her web work-in-progress at www.creative-writing-ideas-and-activities.com.