Writing. It’s everywhere! If you’re home right now, let your eyes wander over the room in search of words. What do you notice? A shopping list, perhaps? Mail? Picture books? Birthday cards? Cereal boxes?
Maybe you’re in a coffee shop. Look around and take in the menu, food packages, a stack of magazines, or the community bulletin board.
Breaking Out of the Rut
Even though there are many kinds of writing, we often get in a rut by limiting our children to stories and reports. When I was homeschooling my own kids, I wanted them to have all sorts of writing experiences. Unit studies were perfect for writing across the curriculum.
I still assigned more “traditional” writing, of course. But we also had fun with short, targeted, project-based writing activities that dovetailed writing with other subjects such as science, nature, and history.
These activities took the form of brochures and book jackets, magazines and diaries, obituaries and editorials, charts and posters. Tying our writing—both formal and informal—to our studies made writing practical. It also helped cement concepts and gave the kids many opportunities just to have fun with words.
Benefits of Writing Across the Curriculum
Explore a topic in greater depth.
These different projects and writing activities encouraged my children to dig deeper. My son, for example, created a newspaper about the Victorian era. He included news articles, advertisements, letters to the editor, human interest stories, and cartoons. Each required different kinds of research, helping him learn more about this time period than a report alone would accomplish.
Appeal to your kids’ interests and learning styles.
I don’t have to tell you that children learn differently.
- The kinesthetic child learns better when he can build, work with textures, or use various media.
- The auditory learner might like writing and performing songs, poems, speeches, or plays.
- Projects that include art, photography, or computer-related activities appeal to the visual child.
Children absorb information through their senses. The more ways a child handles information, the better he retains it. When assigning writing, it’s wise to offer lots of choices that develop well-rounded writers. Project-based writing gives all students the chance to write in the ways they learn best.
Make writing more fun.
Don’t get me wrong: reports are important. But I bet your child will be less resistant if, from time to time, he gets to write an advertisement, create a trivia game, or make a brochure about Pompeii or Ancient Egypt or Lewis and Clark’s expedition. Activities like these help him see that writing can be fun!
Ideas for Writing Across the Curriculum
Journals, book reviews, glossaries, and recipes can all find a place in your homeschool writing diet. Explore this list of 78 writing genres. Many don’t require much planning, so pluck out a few ideas and try them this very week!
- Alphabet book
- Animal stories (fiction or nonfiction)
- Book jackets
- Bumper stickers
- Business cards
- Day in the life
- Descriptive writing
- Dictionaries and glossaries
- Expository or informative writing
- Fact sheets
- Food packages
- Games (board games, trivia games, vocabulary games)
- Greeting cards
- How-to articles
- Instruction manuals
- Lab reports
- Letters (friendly letters, business letters, complaints, requests, thank-you notes)
- Math word problems
- Photo essays
- Picture books
- PowerPoint presentations
- Proverbs and sayings
- Quizzes or test questions
- Responses to literature
- Sports articles
- Twitter tweets
- Want ads
Which of these sound like fun to you? Where will you start?
Photos: Seier+Seier (texture), Jimmie (lapbook), courtesy of Creative Commons
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