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3 ways to keep kids writing this summer

by | Jun 9, 2014 | Writing Games & Activities

Keep kids writing this summer! Set them loose to journal about favorite books, write to a pen pal, or use imaginative story starters!

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Whether you school year-round or take a long break over the summer, it’s always a good idea to include activities that involve writing. Consider an out-of-the-box book report, dabble in writing across the curriculum, or try one of the following ways to keep kids writing during these hot and sultry months.

1. Book Journals

Since reading and writing go hand-in-hand, I hope reading activities are on your family’s list of summertime priorities! From time to time, invite your kids to reflect on a book (or chapter) they just read. This activity isn’t meant to be a book report. Rather, encourage them to choose one of these book journal prompts and run with it!

  • I can’t believe ­­­­­­­­­______ (character) ­­­­­­­­­______ (did what). I think that was a ­­­­­­­­­______ idea because …
  • When ­­­­­­­­­______ happened, it made me feel ­­­­­­­­­______ because …
  • My favorite character is ­­­­­­­­­______ because …
  • I have three questions about what I just read. First, I wonder why ­­­­­­­­­______ .
  • I would / wouldn’t like to visit the setting where this book takes place because …
  • I would / would not recommend this book to ­­­­­­­­­______ (name of friend) because …
  • My favorite part of the story happened when …
  • I didn’t like the part where ­­­­­­­­­______ because …

2. Pen Pals

Help keep those letter-writing skills sharp with real-life pen pal practice! If your kids can’t think of someone to correspond with, consider these ideas:

  • Does your child have cousins or grandparents who live in another state or country? Encourage them to develop a stronger relationship through letter-writing.
  • Homesick soldiers love to receive and send mail! Do you know a family whose son or daughter is deployed overseas?
  • Does your family sponsor a child through an organization like Compassion or World Vision? These sponsored children may not be able to write back often, but nothing brings them more joy than getting a letter from your kids!
  • Does your church support a missionary family? Their kids would love to hear from home.
  • Are you friends online with a homeschooling family in another part of the country? Find out if her children would be interested in becoming pen pals.

3. Writing Prompts and Story Starters

Summer is a great time for writing lighthearted, imaginative stories you may not get to during the traditional school year. When children have a terrific writing prompt, or the basic story elements are in place—such as character, setting, and some sort of storyline or plot—they’ll enthusiastically jump right in!


WriteShop StoryBuilders are perfect for this! The printable cards make great writing prompts and set kids off on a story-writing adventure with humorous or inspiring ideas like these:

  • A reluctant moose travels deep into the jungle in a time machine.
  • Everything goes wrong for the competitive gymnast on the miniature golf course.
  • Disaster strikes while a nervous explorer is in a cave.

This should be a low-pressure writing experience for most children, but younger or reluctant writers may get stressed at the thought of “all that writing.” To keep things relaxing and enjoyable, let them dictate their stories to you as you write or type.

Here are three different StoryBuilders sets to download and print for hours of fun. Try one … or all three!

Round Robins

Story starters are even more fun when you write round-robin style! You can use any writing prompt, or you can try a different kind of round robin by downloading this free Round Robin Adventure printable.

How do you write a round robin? Start by giving each child his or her own prompt and set the timer. Every three minutes, everyone passes papers to the left and continues adding to the story in front of them.

When you think they’ve had enough time, announce the last round and have them wrap up the story they’re holding. Take turns reading the stories aloud and laughing over the silly plot twists each one takes!

Story Cubes

Not every writing activity needs to involve physical writing! My granddaughters and I love creating oral stories using Rory’s Story Cubes. This activity encourages storytelling skills and artistic expression—and keeps everyone laughing as the plot takes silly turns. Voyages Story Cubes is a fun variation, and the Actions Story Cubes set adds 54 everyday verbs to the mix.

A bonus? Story Cubes are small and portable, making them perfect to tote along on vacation—and are especially ideal for occupying children on airplanes, where space is at a premium.

Writing Prompt Ideas

Finally, don’t forget that every week, on Writing Prompt Wednesday, we add another set of clever journaling and writing prompts for kids. You’ll find loads of fresh story ideas just waiting for summer picking!

Keep kids writing this summer! Set them loose to journal about favorite books, write to a pen pal, or use imaginative story starters!

Photo Credits: João Pedro (letter from pen pal), Marin (writing), myaccountnice (girl and girls reading), courtesy of Creative Commons