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Summer Writing

Summer is for exploring, reading, listening and … writing. Give kids a chance to exercise different writing muscles — from poetry to persuasive writing. We’ve put together a number of fun, simple writing activities to do with your child or as a group activity with friends and neighbors.

Try these writing activities:

Tips for helping young writers:

Nature Journals

Science and math explorations provide your child with a chance to record all kinds of observations. Help your child to make a special journal and encourage her to write down what she observes about her surroundings — looking at both the big picture and the small, examining plants and rocks and insects up close. Use all of your senses! Here are some ideas for things to look for:

A flower tally

Count the flowers in an area in the spring once a week for three weeks. Compare your tallies. Your child will have fun watching the numbers go up as flowers bloom in the spring and summer.

Ant watching

There are ants everywhere! Try following them to their home and see what they're up to. Where do they live? How many can you count in one place? Record these observations and your ant grand total.

Nature scavenger hunt

Use your notebook to make (or draw) a list of some common things and a few rare ones that can be found outside near your home or in a park. Include things like: acorn, pine cone, flat rock, bird feather, weed, flower. Hand your child the notebook and let the scavenger hunt begin!


Create a Poetree

Beautiful tree + beautiful poems = A poetree

Do you have a small tree in your front yard with low branches? That’s perfect for a poetree! If you don't have a "just right" tree in your yard, you could find out about adopting a tree in your neighborhood or city park for the summer. Start your poetree with a favorite family poem or a poem that your child writes himself. Check out the ideas below to help with writing an original poem. If you're looking for wonderful published poems, browse our collection of poetry books.

Along with your poems, you'll need a few supplies to create your poetree: white and colored construction paper, scissors, single-hole punch, yarn or twist ties, clear packing tape and a pen or marker. Cut strips of white or colored paper the same width as your packing tape. Have your child write the poem on a strip, then cover each strip with packing tape on the front and back. Let your child use the hole punch to make a hole at the top of the strip in the center. Then thread the yarn or twist ties through the holes. Hang the poem on the tree and invite readers to stop by and add their poems to the poetree.

Poetry Challenge: Clip It, Pick It, Write It

Create poems with your child based on five “found” words from your newspaper (or a magazine). Cut out words that appeal to you both and put the words into an envelope, then draw five words that you each must include in a poem. After you've finished writing, read your poems together and gather them up into a collection to share with others. (Scholastic)

List Poems

Look around, what do you see? Start a poem with a list of nouns that name everything you see, then add colorful verbs or adjectives. (Imagination Soup)

Example:
Grass grows
Trees whisper
Flowers bathe

Cinquain

Write a cinquain (a 5-line poem, often inspired by nature) about a memorable place you have visited: the ocean, a planetarium, the forest, your backyard, a neighborhood park, your school playground — even the flowering tree at the end of your block can be inspiring. Here are the "rules" of a cinquain:

  • Line 1: One word title, a noun that identifies your topic
  • Line 2: Two adjectives that describe your topic
  • Line 3: Three "ing" verbs that describe action
  • Line 4: A phrase that describes something about your topic
  • Line 5: A noun that is a synonym or another way to name your topic

Example:
tree
reaching, bending, fluttering
leaves and twigs in the wind
aspen

Recipe Share

In Linda Sue Park's picture book Bee-Bim Bop! we join a young Korean girl and her mom as they shop, chop, and prepare a delicious meal together. Everyone has a favorite family recipe, something wonderful that is cooked up for special friends or special occasions. What's yours? Does it have special meaning for your family? You'll need a kitchen partner — your mom, dad, grandparent, or older sibling — to help you cook this delicious dish.

Write up the recipe (be sure you have the correct measurements for each ingredient), the step-by-step directions and one descriptive sentence about the experience of cooking and sharing the food with others. Include a drawing if you like, and make copies to share with family, friends and neighbors. Be sure your directions are crystal clear so that others can try out the recipe!

Review It!

Summer is a great time for new experiences and field trips, near or far. After visiting new places, have your child write reviews of their adventures and create a summer scrapbook. Did you try the new sandwich shop on the corner, see the newest Pixar movie in 3D or explore all the animal habitats at the zoo? Encourage your child to record their thoughts and experiences. All you need is a 3-ring binder, some inexpensive scrapbook paper and adhesive — or you can buy an scrapbook album from a local craft store. Kids can add things like menus, ticket stubs, museum tour maps, autographs and hiking trail maps to accompany their reviews. If you have a digital camera and printer, your child can include his own photos.

Explain It!

Trying to record your favorite show with the DVR but can't remember how to do it? Yep, that's familiar. Put kids to work writing up "how-to" guides for tricky devices (like DVRs) or other instructions, such as how to reset the microwave clock after the power goes out; or how to load the dishwasher so that you can fit the most dishes in; or how to replace the tube on a bicycle wheel. This activity helps children practice skills in sequencing, attention to detail, and writing clearly.

  • Teach your child how something works by demonstrating each step. Go slowly so that he can observe carefully. (If your kid is doing the teaching, then skip this step!)
  • Provide a notepad and pencil so that your child can record the steps, make special notes, and add any helpful diagrams.
  • Check over the writing to make sure it's clear, and then try following the directions together. If there are any errors or missing steps, you can demonstrate the steps again.
  • Your child can create the final guide using construction paper or printer paper (don't forget the title!) And remember to stash the booklet in a handy place!

Write Like a Journalist

Just a few pages from your newspaper can be turned into a good writing exercise. Cut out a few pictures from the paper. Ask your child to write a caption for each one. Compare their caption with the paper's caption. Talk about ways captions help readers understand one small piece of the story. Turn a recent family event into a newspaper story. Try to write a headline, the story, include a picture or drawing, and add a caption.

Write to Your Favorite Author

Does your child have a favorite author? Here's a great way to engage kids in a conversation about books they love and wonder about the real person who wrote those books. Here's some advice from children's writer Mary Amato on how to write to an author:

  • Write a thoughtful, personal letter. Tell the author something about yourself and why you enjoy her books.
  • Ask thoughtful questions, like how did you come up with the setting for a particular book, or why did a character behave a certain way in the story. (Your child might also share that she, too, wants to be a writer, and what was the path the author took to get there?)
  • Learn the five parts of a formal letter: heading (address and date), greeting, message, closing, and signature — and where each of those parts are placed on the paper. Which punctuation mark follows the greeting and the closing? This article, An Introduction to Letter Writing, is really helpful.
  • Write a rough draft of the letter using the letter format. Help your child edit the letter by checking spelling, sentence and paragraph construction, and capitalization.
  • Write the final draft. A handwritten letter is especially personal!
  • Send the letter to the writer "in care of" her publisher. Here's how to find that: look for the publisher's address inside the book. Usually, the mailing address will be listed in the first few pages of the book. (If the complete address is not shown, you can always find it on the publisher's website.)
  • Include an envelope with your name and address and a stamp, ready to go. Make it easy for a busy author to respond.

To get to know some of your favorite children's authors and illustrators, watch the author interviews on Reading Rockets!

Tips for Helping Young Writers


Launching Young Writers

Find out why writing is so important in our lives, as well as practical suggestions for activities to help your child become a stronger writer. Get tips >

Kids Who Blog

Writing for an audience gives kids a reason to use their developing reading and writing skills. Here are some tips to get you and your child started with free, safe blogging sites. Get tips >

Download PDF: English | Spanish

How Parents Can Support the Common Core Writing Standards

Is your school using the new Common Core standards? This is a big change for students — and their parents. The standards support all writing genres, but put a new emphasis on persuasive and expository (explanatory) writing. Get to know the four "anchors" of the Common Core writing standards and simple things you can do at home to help your child build skills in all of these areas. Get tips >

Download PDF: English | Spanish

More great summer resources for parents from Reading Rockets

Read Aloud Tips

Read Aloud Tips

Read aloud every day with your child and talk about what you're reading. These two simple activities help build your child's vocabulary and comprehension skills.

Get tips (In English and 10 other languages) >

Downloadables

Downloadables

Download these colorful ready-to-print lunch box notes, play date cards, and door hangers for the kids in your life.

Download and print >