Writing does not have to be a chore–although our students often think it is. Reliance on spell-check and electronic communication is a reality–but not a full-time necessity. Pulling in some creative, fun projects is an easy thing to do! If you are careful in the presentation, they might not even know they are ‘doing school.‘
Children especially love to receive notes and cards. Pen pals are an old-fashioned idea with great potential. Explore a foreign country and culture by locating a pen pal online. Encourage a bit of history learning with ‘interview’ letters to aged family members (or friends). Very young children who are learning to read and write will enjoy exchanging notes with you! A little mailbox created for a doorway is a great way to encourage reading and writing. Leave a note each day for one another. If you have a particularly artistic student, taking the handwriting challenge up a level to calligraphy cards may appeal sometimes. Other times, cards made with cut-out letters are a way to keep the writing projects fresh and fun.
A favorite writing project in our past was called “Thankful Thursday.” Each week the children chose someone to send a card to and tell them they were thankful for something about that person. The recipients were pleasantly surprised and the children practiced penmanship, grammar and kindness!
As the children grow in ability, cards can grow into longer projects. Stories sometimes simply flow from their hearts and pencils. You will enjoy the illustrations as much as the stories! A journal that is not corrected for grammar is a useful tool. Simply writing helps the children know they can write. Grammar and punctuation can wait for the curriculum if you choose. As stories and projects increase in size, the logic of utilizing computers enters the picture. (Cards and letters do not have to leave the picture though!)
Online writing contests and forums are a great motivation when the natural desire to tell stories begins to wane. Competitions, passion-specific projects (e.g. Mustang Horses) and writing websites are tools to keep our children learning to communicate. Even in a world of texting, the ability to string sentences together remains a priority and hand-written notes are a treasure easily given.