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  • Writer's pictureMaria Liatis

May Activity: 3 Creative Writing Exercises for Kids

Can you feel the excitement in the air? Graduations, end-of-year parties, field days, picnics, water balloon fights.You know what that means - the last day of school is fast approaching and summer break is starting! Soon, kids will be enjoying long days full of adventures worth telling. A perfect time for your kids to try some fun writing exercises to keep stretching their creativity and storytelling skills. After all, they need to prepare for those omnipresent back-to-school essays, “What I Did Over the Summer.”

A little girl writing a story

Here are 3 creative writing exercises for kids to try over the summer:

  1. Use Your Five Senses

This is an easy and fun activity you can have your child do while riding in the car, going on a walk, or sitting in the park, and it can be done written or spoken. The goal of this activity is to have your child connect with their senses. Not only has this activity shown to ease anxiety, but it also helps one stay focused on the present and improve observational skills.

For example, right now, I am sitting in the park having a picnic and -

  • I see bright yellow flowers swaying with the wind

  • I hear birds chirping and little kids laughing…oh no, one kid is crying

  • I smell fresh cut grass that reminds me of my childhood summers spent playing baseball with the neighborhood kids

  • I feel the damp ground beneath me that reminds me that I probably need to put these shorts in the dirty clothes hamper when I get home

  • I taste the sweet frosted cookies I baked this morning, but now I feel the grittiness of the coarse sugar I used for the frosting because I ran out of powdered sugar and it makes me feel a little embarrassed that my cookies are not up to par with my excellent cooking skills… and oh! What if I make up a story about an excellent chef who has lost his taste buds!

As you can see, you can get very detailed with your observations and include your own little anecdotes. This activity will improve your child’s ability to provide description and find story inspiration from their environment. Like, why could that one kid be crying?! Don’t ask. Make it up!

  1. Photo Inspiration

Just like it sounds, with this exercise your child will use a photo to inspire a story. You can pull photos from several places: google images, old photo albums (preferably before your child was born so they have no idea what’s going on), picture books, or even antique stores! We recommend looking for images that are candid and mid-action; posed photos are good to use for creating character descriptions, while spontaneous photos are great for creating a scene.

With the photo in front of them, your child should start with observing the photo for a couple of minutes. If you are working with them, you can ask them some questions to prompt more curiosity. Who are these characters? Where are they? Why are they there? What is their relationship to each other?

Then, it’s time to write! For five minutes, your child will write about what is occurring in the photograph. The goal isn't to create a Pulitzer Prize winning short story; it doesn’t even need to be complete. The goal is to just write something! After a few days, if the inspiration is still there, they can revisit their writing and start fleshing out their story.

Doing activities like this will help your child gain confidence in their writing, understand the concept of writing and rewriting, and learn to let go (not everything needs to be a masterpiece).

  1. Fairy Tale Rewrite

There are several writing activities you can do using your favorite fairy tales or bedtime stories or superhero chronicles!

First, revisit the original story. If it's a short story, you could re-read it. Refresh your memory by telling the story in your own words.

Second, now rewrite the fairy tale in under 100 words (about a paragraph).

Third - and here’s where the fun really starts - focus on the most important words or phrases from your story and swap them out with your own creation. Think of the most memorable words and phrases that pop into your head when you think of this story.

For example, let’s say we are writing about the Three Little Pigs.

  • I have chosen the following words/phrases: straw, wood, brick, Big Bad Wolf, “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down.”

  • Then, I swap those with my own words and ideas to change the story. Instead of houses made of straw, wood, and brick, I want them to be made of marshmallows, bread, and rock candy. Instead of the villain being the Big Bad Wolf, I want the villain to be the Annoyingly Needy Newt and she announces her threat as “If you don’t come outside to play, I’ll tell the ants to munch on your sugary houses.”

  • Hopefully by now you can see that a new story is forming. I would keep the basic layout of a character approaching three pigs and requesting something from them. But I changed who that character is and what that character wants from them. You can change as much as you want as long as you still have the basic elements of a story.

The goal for these activities is to learn how to rewrite stories in your own words and use creativity to apply a new twist. Have fun taking a well-known story and applying your own originality.

Put your creativity on paper this summer and have fun exploring the art of storytelling!

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