Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Homeschooling: Writing Prompts A Jar of Possibilities

I am getting ready to do a writing unit with my three older boys.  They have completed their grammar books so its time to put the grammar skills to work and concentrate on writing using my "writing jar".

My oldest boy is a very creative writer and writing comes easy to him.  I am not met with a blank stare when I ask him to write a story.  However, he is old enough where I need to work at channeling his writing abilities into different genres of writing rather than just creative or free writing.

As for the other two boys well they are different story from my oldest!  I think they would rather get a tooth pulled than write even a paragraph!  They do not have any problem telling me stories verbally but to ask them to write what they just said is almost impossible.  I usually end up in the following conversation with either of them:

MOM: You need to write a story today.
CHILD: (with a blank stare) A story!?!
MOM: Yes, a story!
CHILD: But I don’t know what to write about!
MOM: Well use your imagination! I am sure that you can figure out something!
[Mom leaves the child to their thoughts. An hour later Mom goes to check the child’s paper, only to find there is nothing on the paper!]
MOM: Why don’t you have your story written like I said for you to do.
CHILD: I told you that I didn’t know what to write about!
MOM: Well you need to write a story!
[Mom leaves the child alone and a bit frustrated!]

Do you have this happen with your child?  Do you want to put an end to this scene happening in your home school adventure?  If so, I have a solution to this problem that has worked for me…a “journal jar” or “story bucket” or “story basket”.  

To make one of these you need a canning jar or dollar store basket and paper that you can use to write different story starters or writing prompts.  When your child needs to write about something or a story they can choose something out of the jar or basket to help get them started.

As for what to write on those pieces of paper for your jar or basket, check out the following sites:
  •  Story Starters –printable worksheets with pictures that you can print in color or black and white (so the child can color the pictures). You can type a list of words in the word bank for the child to use in their story.   This is great to use with spelling or vocabulary words!  Also works well for the younger children.  To use these in the jar, I just write the name of the picture on a slip and put in the jar and if the child pulls it out I have this site bookmarked to go and print the page.
  •  Harcourt School's Picture Writing Prompts—printable pictures of titles, settings, characters, problems and actions to help get a story started.
  • CanTeach Writing Prompts/Journal Topics –there is what seems to be an endless list of prompts at this site!  I feel that a lot of the prompts are geared towards the upper elementary children (3rd or 4th grade and up). 
  • The Write Source – another site of endless writing prompts that they have taken the time to divide into grade levels.
  • Organized Christmas Child Journal Jar –printable sheets that have the writing prompts on them.  You just need to print and cut and put in the jar or basket.
  •  Tooter4Kids' Daily Writing Ideas –a calendar from September to June with daily writing ideas or monthly themes. 
  •  Teacher's Corner Calendar –this is interactive educator’s calendar.  It has themes listed for each month.  You click on the month and find that there are “this day in history” or “special holidays” listed on the different days of the month. They also have a page of daily writing prompts to choose from as well.

With these resources, you will have plenty of prompts to fill a jar or basket to help spur your child’s imagination in writing a story.

A writing jar works for me!

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**this post was originally published as one of my contributing articles at Happy to be at Home!

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