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Same story, different twist

by | Aug 5, 2010 | Teaching Homeschool Writing

When assigning writing to your children, you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel with a brand-new lesson. Sometimes it’s fun to approach a familiar assignment in a fresh new way. For example:

  • Tweaking an existing lesson instruction by adding different elements.
  • Having your children revisit an earlier composition—either a recent story or one they wrote a year or two ago) and changing it up somehow. 

Here are some simple ways to add variety to your children’s writing by using lessons you already have lying around!

Change the tense

Using the same composition they wrote before, have students rewrite it, changing the tense. If it was written in past tense, ask them to write it in present, and vice versa. If the story was written long ago, you may also want to have them increase the length, add more sentence variations, or expand description.

Change the point of view

Have your child rewrite a story from a different point of view by writing as another character in the story. For practice, have him retell a familiar story such as David and Goliath, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, or a fable or fairy tale. Have him “become” one of the characters in the story and rewrite the story in first person. A younger child can do this exercise orally.

Describe a food

Instead of describing a food, students may write a restaurant review in which they vividly describe an assortment of foods—from appetizers to dessert. Expect this composition to be several paragraphs in length.  Suggestion: Visit a restaurant and have students take “brainstorming” notes as they sample various foods.

Describe a place

As an alternative to describing a place, your child can design travel brochures about a favorite vacation spot, famous landmark, city, country, or geographical region she would like to visit. Include text and pictures.

Write a biography

Every student writes biographies at some point. To change it up a bit, have your kids write an autobiography of a famous individual instead (autobiographies are written in first person) as if they were that historic person. Alternatively, you might ask them to assume the role of an historical figure and write one or more journal or diary entries or letters. Any of these exercises should be historically accurate, perhaps fitting in with a current topic of study.

Create a newspaper

A newspaper format lends itself well to a history unit. Why not have your child write an entire newspaper about a historical era? Include a wide assortment of the following:

  • Local, national, and international news stories
  • Advertisements
  • Comic strips
  • Entertainment
  • Doctor’s column
  • Literary news
  • Sports
  • Travel
  • Vital statistics (births, deaths, marriages, crimes)
  • Editorials/opinions/letters to the editor/exposés, etc.

This newspaper activity should be spread over a longer period of time. Some research will be required to ensure historical accuracy. This also makes a wonderful group project, with all your students contributing to one newspaper.

Encourage your children to take their writing in new directions by trying some of these simple ideas. It won’t be long before you—and they—are thinking up different twists all on your own!