Writing with lists
We can get it in our minds that “writing” means a composition with a proper introduction, conclusion, and three main points sandwiched in between. It’s easy to forget that although writing can be as complex as a research paper, it can also be as simple as making lists.
Writing with lists is still…writing!
Yep—list-making is a bona fide writing activity!
Most children like to create lists anyway, but writing out lists—from the mundane to the meaningful—also helps them become more organized. Taken a step further, when list-making is used as a brainstorming tool, it can even help students plan the elements of an essay or story.
So where do you start? Here are some suggestions for your budding list-makers:
- List your various personal possessions such as baseball cards, stuffed animals, shoes, or CDs.
- Inventory furniture in a room or items in a junk drawer, jewelry box, or medicine cabinet.
- List states you’ve traveled to, friends you know, or places you’d like to visit.
- Make lists of schoolwork, dates for soccer practice and games, family birthdays, to-do lists, etc.
Holiday list-making ideas
Ways We Can Serve Others
There are so many ways your family can think of others, particularly at the holidays. Encourage your kids to list ideas such as baking cookies for a neighbor, packing a shoebox for child in a third-world country, or giving away some of their own toys to needy children.
Christmas or Holiday Traditions
Make a list of your family’s favorite holiday activities. As an example, here’s a list of Kautzer Christmas traditions:
- Watch lots of Christmas movies
- Make gingerbread houses
- Annual neighborhood cookie exchange party
- Big family dinner Christmas Eve
- New Christmas jammies
- Candlelight service at 11 p.m.
- Block off the stairway with toilet paper so no one sneaks downstairs Christmas morning
- Stockings first, then breakfast, then presents under the tree
- Freeze fresh peaches in July for Christmas breakfast
- New ornament for each grandchild: Eli – snowmen; Grant – bears; Ryan – cookie ornaments; Hannah and Tiana – angels; Ginny – farm animals
- Jesus got three gifts from the wise men, so each person gets three presents under the tree.
Christmas Wish Lists
Write out a wish list—and not just a list of things your child wants to get for Christmas (though that’s always fun too). In addition, how about a list that tells what your child thinks someone else would like. For example, Grandma might want:
- Warm slippers.
- A handwritten note from me.
- A picture of me.
- Someone to shovel snow from her sidewalk.
- To go out to breakfast with Dad and me.
Year-round list-making fun
Try some of these suggestions to spark ideas for using list-making as part of your schooling all year long. Though lists are useful and fun for all ages and learning styles, they especially appeal to reluctant writers or students with learning difficulties because they’re short, contained, and relevant.
- Book of Lists. Buy each child a special spiral notebook or journal. This can become his or her own personal Book of Lists.
- School Assignments. For starters, your children could make lists of books they’ve read this year, countries or states they’ve studied, Colonial American occupations they’ve learned about, American presidents, British monarchs, 27 prepositions, or eight items one might put into an historical time capsule.
- 10 Things. Write a series of “10 Things” lists: 10 New Year’s resolutions, 10 favorite cookies, 10 joyful moments, 10 things I should throw away, etc.
- Adding Flair. Suggest illustrating some of the pages or adding personal photos or pictures cut from magazines or old calendars.
- Lists Galore. Check out the Writing Fix Personal List Generator. This clever tool generates a random question, which your child answers by making a list. Should you want to take it one step further, there’s also an assignment for writing a related composition. If list-making is your goal, simply skip the composition. Alternatively, make note of the composition topic and assign it another time.
- The List and Nothing but the List. Remember that the list itself can (and often should) be the goal. Don’t get hung up on needing to see paragraphs every time.
Share a comment: Make a list of any kind in the comment box, whether it’s today’s errand list, a list of supplies you need for a new project, or a list of skills you’d like to learn. Be creative!
2009 © Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.