7 learning center activities: Spotlight on writing

These learning center activities for elementary kids focus on fun writing ideas such as silly sentences, character diaries, and family portraits.

Writing activity centers are a great way to reinforce the formal composition skills you’re teaching in your curriculum. They’ll give your kids more practice writing in a fun, relaxed setting. Whether you create a basket of materials by the sofa or a stand alone writing desk in the family room, try these different learning center ideas.

1. Picture Book Mail

Place a collection of favorite picture books in a basket. Ask your child to read one or more of the books and then write a letter to one of the characters. What could she say in the letter? When finished, have your child place her letter in a decorated envelope, with a sticker for a stamp. Later, you can respond to the letter as the character your child wrote to!

2. “And Now, a Word From Our Sponsors”

Gather a variety of household items and place them in a box or basket. Ask each child to write out advertising copy and create a poster for a product. Why would folks want to buy this item? Remember to keep colored markers and construction paper close at hand, and encourage your kids to do rough drafts and sketches before they begin.

3. Character Diaries

At this center, have your children create the imaginary diaries of favorite characters from books or novels they’re reading. Design your own diaries or buy inexpensive ones from the store.

4. Round Robin Stories

Make available a timer and plenty of paper and pencils. Have each child begin to write a story based upon the same pre-selected prompt. (Visit Creative Writing Prompts for ideas, or use WriteShop StoryBuilders.) Set the timer for three minutes.

When finished, have the children exchange stories. Set the timer again for three minutes, and have each child begin adding to the story he or she just received. Write until the timer ends, and exchange papers again. Continue in this manner for several rounds of exchanging papers and adding content to everyone’s stories.

Let the original owner of each story read the resulting tale aloud, and enjoy the hilarity!

5. Silly Sentences

Ask each child to write a set number of sentences, some factual and some outright ridiculous.

  • A factual sentence might be: Cheetahs are the fastest land mammals.
  • A silly sentence might be: Cheetahs drive sports cars.

Remind kids to use correct capitalization and punctuation. When finished, have kids share their sentences with each other. Which are true? Which are false?

6. Self Portraits in Words

Using mirrors as guides, have your children draw pictures of themselves. Then ask your children how they would define themselves in words. What describing words would they use? Write those words on the paper, surrounding the self-portrait.

7. Family Portraits

Draw or paint portraits of each family member, including all the pets! Bind the pages together with a hole punch and yarn. Under the portrait, write a short one-paragraph description about each family member. Include information about characteristics, talents and interests, favorite activities, and more.

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Janet Wagner is a contributor to In Our Write Minds. For over two decades, Janet was an elementary and middle school teacher in two Christian academies, a public district school, and a public charter school. She also had the honor of helping to homeschool her two nieces. Janet and her husband Dean live on the family farm in the Piedmont region of north central North Carolina. Currently, she enjoys a flexible life of homemaking, volunteering, reading, writing, tutoring students and training dogs, and learning how to build websites. You can view her web work-in-progress at www.creative-writing-ideas-and-activities.com.

1 Comment

  • Posted October 1, 2011


    That’s true! I’ve never thought of these activity centers as being “subversive” ways to practice handwriting, but you’re absolutely “write”! Sometimes kids need more than just the penmanship practice pages!

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