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When Spiral Notebooks Go On Sale


Q. For our son, writing assignments are booooooooring. I know he needs lots of practice. How can I come up with things for him to write that won't seem like school?


I would buy a dozen spiral notebooks some day when they're on sale, and save them for a school vacation. Then give them to your son and encourage him to fill them all up with writing samples. When every page has at least five lines filled, or whatever you want your goal to be, you will give him a future treat - perhaps take him and a friend to a movie he's been wanting to see that's coming out in a month or so, or purchase something for his collection of whatever he collects.


The point is to have the notebooks available with plenty of suggestions for what he can write about to fill them up. Ideas:


-- Biography of a favorite stuffed animal written like an encyclopedia entry, including "facts" about parents, youth and "accomplishments," complete with a portrait in colored pencil.


-- Recipe for something good to eat: invent it, name it, and list at least five ingredients, with preparation instructions that are as elaborate or funny as possible.


-- Restaurant reviews written in newspaper style for one week of dinners in your household. Each review should list what was served. Who liked it, who didn't, and why? Add colorful quotations from the cook and eaters alike.


-- "Help wanted" ads for household tasks, written in the style of classified ads, and posted near the scene of the task, such as taped to the vacuum cleaner.


-- Write hints for a treasure hunt, perhaps in rhymes. Come up with prizes, such as pieces of candy or small trinkets. Hide the items, place the hints, and carry out the surprise.


-- The child can write out specific instructions, with illustrations, for how to do something the child loves to do.


-- Cut out an interesting magazine photo and use it as the setting for a story.


-- Mother or father can write a question at the top of a piece of paper and leave it in the child's lunch with a pencil. The child writes an answer and puts the note and pencil back in the lunchbox. The next day, the parent responds to that answer and writes another question. Keep it going all week.


-- Write a sequel to a favorite book or story.


-- Make up a Christmas gift list for a cartoon or movie character or favorite animal.


-- Letters to friends, relatives, penpals and famous people; help your child find addresses on the Internet for where to send fan mail to celebrities.


-- Greeting cards: try writing poems for special occasion cards and illustrate with colorful drawings.


-- Stories and poems for publication: help your child search for opportunities to submit pieces of writing to children's publications.


-- Notes for bulletin boards with a famous inspirational quote, followed by the child's own version. For instance: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. - Franklin D. Roosevelt" . . . "The only thing we have to fear is being in the house with Dad after he's eaten baked beans."


-- A weekend or summertime activity is to create a kids' newspaper and circulate it in the neighborhood, after-school group or to friends.


-- Create a board game and write instructions, playing card information, and "copy" for each "space."


-- Make a scrapbook and write memorable captions for photos and mementoes.


-- Write funny bumper stickers.


-- Make a collage with words and letters cut out of old magazines and catalogs. Paste in place to spell out a poem, story, letter or other written work.


-- Make-your-own dictionary of the child's favorite words, in alphabetical order, with pronunciations and definitions.


Homework: Browse through these additional ideas:



By Susan Darst Williams Writing 18 2008




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