[Writing practice] + [Summertime] = [Fun for your kids]
I wasn’t a math major, but I know enough to tell you that in the majority of households, that equation DOESN’T hold true.
It’s hard enough to get them to sit down and write during the school year so you may be wondering…
“How in the world is this going to happen over the summer?”
But think about reading for a second. If you’ve ever seen your kid pick up a book on their own outside of school, you know that reading can be associated with fun – sometimes enough so to win out over friends, TV, and video games.
And the same can be true for writing if we approach it in the right way.
Well, it turns out summer is the perfect time of year to do that. The stakes are low. There are no due dates or grades to assign.
And you can just focus on discovering writing activities that can help build the habit of writing, without seeming like a burden… and maybe even turning into something FUN (whether they’ll admit it to you or not).
So we put together a list of fun things you can try (with a few practical ones thrown in for rising Juniors and Seniors), that might just get your child to put pencil to paper this summer. Check out the 10 kid-tested writing activities ideas below:
Writing Activities For Elementary School
1. Practice writing names and numbers
For younger elementary schoolers, have them practice writing their names and letters. Find templates online of the alphabet, print them out, and write over them with crayons or markers.
Grab a bucket of chalk and write fun words and numbers on your driveway or sidewalk—there’s minimal mess and easy clean-up whenever it rains.
If you’re going to the beach this summer, get your kids to write in the sand! They can spell their name, their favorite pet, or a simple sentence. They’ll be having too much fun to even realize they’re practicing.
2. Send letters from a trip or sleepaway camp
With older elementary schoolers, writing over the summer may seem like an exasperating task. They just spent nine months practicing their writing during school; the last thing they want to do is practice over the summer!
Try having them instead write letters to family and friends. This works especially well if you send your kids to sleepaway camps.
Ask that they send you letters to update you on all the fun activities they’re doing while they’re away.
3. Write to athletes for autographs
You can also show them “Through the Mail.” Through the Mail is a method that encourages children to write to their favorite professional athletes in exchange for autographs. It’s easy to find each team’s address on the “team by team” tab of NFL’s, MLB’s, or almost any other sports site.
I love the website Cardboard Connections. It contains a step-by-step approach for writing the best letter possible in order to get those autographs back. Through the Mail has been around for years and if you’re the parent of a sports-minded kid, consider it a great option. Encourage your child to set a goal of four letters to improve their writing skills and to better their chances of getting an autograph in return.
Writing Activities For Middle School
4. Write a Kidpreneur business plan (for the budding entrepreneur)
It’s no secret that many successful entrepreneurs struggled in school, yet they found ways to leverage their strengths. So I love the idea of encouraging children to start a business, no matter how small. And part of a successful business includes a written plan.
The Kidpreneurs website matches students with business coaches to help them develop and execute a business plan. Alternatively, the wildly popular book, Lemonade Stand Millionaire also teaches children of all ages an approach to following their dreams.
5. Write to a Pen Pal (yes… these are still around!)
Pen pals may seem like they’re from a bygone era (especially with texting, Instagram and TikTok at your kid’s fingertips). But actually, they’re alive and well!
For a way to connect with pen pals, International Pen Pal Friend World has a host of options. The site matches kids with others throughout the world with similar interests.
6. Work on keyboarding skills
I’ll never forget my sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. Cameron, who told us that one of the most important classes we could take in middle school was typing. She was right! The ability to type quickly saves time and reduces frustration.
Students these days do not have the opportunity to take dedicated keyboarding classes… And with the rise of mobile, they may actually be faster with their thumbs!
So If your child is of the hunt and peck variety, consider a free online typing program this summer. I really like Edutyping. Check up on your child periodically to be sure he’s not looking at the keys as he types since this undermines the goal of being able to touch type.
And if they’re resistant? Just remind them that typing correctly is an even FASTER way to chat back and forth online with their friends!
Writing Activities For High School
7. Create a personal website
When your child hits high school, talk starts fairly quickly about not only preparing for college, but also applying for jobs and special programs. One of the best ways to stand out? Create a website and include the link on college applications.
Your child can tell their story and share their experiences, awards, and activities for prospective colleges. Younger high school students can also create a website and use it as a journal or blog. Most websites (WordPress, Wix) are free to register and easy to personalize.
Many high schoolers purchase a domain using their first, middle, and last name. First, a domain in your name is very cool, but secondly, it allows students to have a professional portfolio of sorts that they can share with admissions officers as they’re applying for college. Not every admissions department will take the time to review it, but the smaller ones will. It’s a great way to get your child to practice writing, learn technology, and record their activities as they go along instead of at the last minute when it comes to submitting applications.
8. College admissions essays
For most rising Seniors, college admission essays end up being a HUGE chore… but mostly because many students wait until September or October when they’re in a time crunch and distracted with homework, sports, and other extracurricular activities.
If you’re son or daughter will be working on their applications in the fall, summer is a great time to get a head start on writing your essays because they’ll have more time to think of topics and important achievements and get all their ideas out on paper without the pressure of a looming deadline.
Here’s how to take advantage of this and make your summer really count:
First, make sure your child has a list of schools and each one’s essay and supplemental essay requirements. If you need help with this, our expert college consultants can help your child create a well-researched list of safety, reach, and target schools based on their interests and achievements.
Then, plan out a few brainstorming sessions for them to jot down their favorite accomplishments and achievements (this is their time to brag so don’t be shy!). From this more free-form writing exercise, you can work with them to pick out a few good overall topics to start writing their full essay.
Do this over the summer and your child will be way ahead of the game come September.
Writing Activities With an iPad or Tablet
9. Turn your doodles and handwritten notes into writing
For kids, iPads generally mean apps, games, friends… fun stuff! So we can take advantage of those positive associations and build iPad-use into the writing process, as well. One way you can do that is by turning doodles and notes into writing.
A student who benefits from the tactile nature of handwriting can brainstorm his or her ideas on paper, capture a photo of his ideas, import the picture into a word processing app, and continue typing his work.
10. Use dictation to get started
Other students, who may have a little more resistance to getting started because they’re not naturally inclined to write, might do better speaking out loud.
They can try instead to use Siri, Google Docs, or another voice dictation tool to have them verbalize their ideas into writing in a note or document first. Then, once the ball is already rolling, jumping into actual writing becomes that much less of a barrier.
A writing coach can help your child build confidence
Effective writing is a vital skill that is required not only for success in the academic arena but also in life.
If your K-12th grade student is experiencing challenges with writing, one of our experienced one-on-one writing coaches at Educational Connections can address their specific needs and create a customized plan that will not only lead to better results in less time but also less stress for your family.