Sometimes it’s hard to get started in the morning.
It’s like that with any job, not just writing, but when it comes specifically to writing, how do you get the words and ideas flowing?
Writing doesn’t always begin with a blank page or fingers poised above a keyboard. As a matter of fact, before your child ever writes a word, consider starting off your writing session with a prewriting activity or warm-up.
Use pre-writing exercises to:
1. Stimulate thinking and warm up writing muscles
Prewriting activities loosen mental cobwebs. “Just as you would stretch before you go running, you need to warm up before you start writing…. [Pre-writing] exercises …help you stretch your mind.” –Jack Prelutsky, poet
2. Help kids overcome writer’s block
“Starting with a writing warm-up can get the creative juices flowing, and help you bypass your critical mind that keeps you frozen and staring at a blank page. You can make up your own warm-ups by using prompts, questions, observations that you might keep in a notebook…
“Or you can get your warm-ups from someone else, using books or ‘flash card’ decks designed just for that purpose. Open a page, pick out a warm-up randomly, write it at the top of your journal or notebook page, and start writing.” —Jamie S. Walters, Ivy Sea
StoryBuilders and prompts are a perfect place to start.
3. Help kids put aside distractions and focus on writing
Pre-writing activities put your children’s minds in gear and prepare them start writing. They “aren’t meant to provoke publishable work. They’re meant to get … your brain warmed up and your ideas flowing….
“Put time limits on them if you have trouble stopping. When the time is up, dive straight into your ‘real’ writing no matter where you are, even if you’re in the middle of a sentence.” —Heather Grove, freelance writer
4. Increase writing vocabulary
“Play with sounds and words to discover something new about language and our world. By playing with the order and arrangement of words, repetition, connection, and word choice, we begin to learn how language works….
“By playing with words we often discover new ways of saying old things—we see with new eyes and create a new world that we had not recognized before.” —Andrew Green, former English teacher and author of Potato Hill Poetry
Once your children begin having fun with prewriting exercises, they’ll be begging for more! Try some of these writing warm-ups for starters:
- Sentence-building games
- Picture books as pre-writing activities
- What’s in the Bag?
- Boardless Scrabble
- A Gathering of Adjectives
You can find even more ideas in our Writing Games & Activities section!
Warm-up activities make learning new writing skills fun for all ages!
“What’s in the Bag?,” sentence-building games, and picture books are some of the many prewriting activities and writing games tucked into the pages of WriteShop Primary, WriteShop Junior, and WriteShop I and II.