Friday, June 7, 2013

Write On!

Summer is almost here!  Some kiddos are already out of school and some will be soon.  It's time to relax and enjoy a little time away from school, and with family and friends.  But that doesn't mean we should shut down our brains for three months!  It's important for kids to keep up with their reading and writing during the break so teachers don't have to jumpstart their drained brains when the school year begins.

Easier said than done, right?  Right!  I'm a mom so I know. 

If you have a reader in the house you'll probably be okay, but if you have a reluctant reader who needs some motivation you may want to try some of these tips. 

(Pssst.  Over here.  Don't tell a soul.  Some of those tips are sooooo sneaky, they won't even know they're reading!  Shhhhhhh.)

That takes care of reading.  What about writing? 

I love a good writing prompt to get my writing juices flowing and I thought the kids might, too, so I'll be posting a few prompts here each week during the summer.  If they'd like to share their stories with me and my readers, email them to me here.  Please indicate if you are granting permission for me to share them and include the first name of the author and his or her age.  I want to give credit where credit is due.

Week #14 Prompts:  Are there really 14 weeks in summer?  (See Week 1-13 Prompts below)

Summer's over.  Oh, no!  I realize that I started this writing prompt post to help kids write over summer vacation, but the weather has been so nice in my neck of the woods... er, big city, that I thought this would be a fun one to suggest.  Let's go outside and play.  It's a picture scavenger hunt/writing prompt all rolled up into one!  

For each age group I've made a list of things to look for.  Kids, take a picture of each thing and then write a story using some or all of the pictures as a prompt.  Don't be afraid to ask people you know to pose for some of the pictures.  Use plenty of detail when writing your stories and don't just focus on the item listed, but on what else comes out in the pictures.  This is a fun one to do with friends after school or on the weekend when you can go exploring in your neighborhood.  Be safe, have fun, and write on!  

Thru age 5:
1.   An animal
2.   A tree
3.   A number 5
4.   A hat
5.   A smile

6-10 year-olds:
1.   Painted toenails
2.   Someone or a group of people playing a sport
3.   A funny mailbox
4.   A flag
5.   Two people hugging
6.   A swing set or other playground equipment
7.   A plate of food
8.   Someone wearing funny socks
9.   A garage sale sign
10. An umbrella

11-13 year-olds:
1.   A person walking a dog
2.   A spider web
3.   A for sale sign
4.   Someone doing a cartwheel
5.   Someone making a silly face
6.   Weird shoes
7.   An old telephone or computer
8.   A billboard or a sign with an X on it
9.   A moustache or beard
10. Christmas decorations from last year that are still up

Week #13 Prompts:

Thru age 5:  Mom or Dad can help you write down your favorite animal, color, and food.  And the name of a person you love and your favorite book.  My purple guinea pig reads The Cat in the Hat while Bego and I eat pizza!  What's your silly story, little one?  PARENTS:  Just because very young children can't actually write down their stories, doesn't mean they can't make them up.  Have your child dictate a story to you.  Write it out or type it on your computer and have him or her draw some illustrations for it.  That's a fun activity for both of you!   

6-10 year-olds:  Write a very short story using only one word for each letter of the alphabet.  Your story can only have 26 words so make them count.  This is a tough one!  I think I can hear the gears in your brain turning from way over here.  If you can write the story using words in the order of the alphabet you'll be my hero!  And, if your story actually makes sense, you'll be the King or Queen of everything!  Good luck!

11-13 year-olds:  You find a strange helmet on a park bench.  It has a pair of glasses and headphones attached to it and some wires coming out of the top.  Its owner is nowhere to be found so you try it on.  What harm can that do, right?  Well, it turns out that when you wear the helmet, you can hear other peoples thoughts and see inside their hearts.  What will you discover about the people in the park?  I hope they're not thinking how ridiculous you look with that silly helmet on!

Week #12 Prompts:

For all ages:  I thought it would be nice to do something a little bit different this week with regard to the writing prompts.  Kids, I would like to encourage you to write a letter to someone in your life who means a lot to you.  It can be a family member, a friend, a teacher, or anyone else that you admire or have a special connection with.  Tell them what you love about them or how they make you laugh or grow or become the best person you can be.  I promise you it will put a smile on their face and on yours as well. 

Week #11 Prompts:

Thru age 5:  Pretend that your window is a picture frame and what you see outside is a picture.  Tell a story about what you see and what you think will happen next.  Maybe you see clouds in the sky.  Will rain come next or will the sun peek through?  Do you see a cat?  Will he chase after a squirrel or just sit and lick his paws?  I see a man holding a pizza box.  I think he's going to have a yummy lunch with his friends!

6-10 year-olds:  You're playing outside with your friends when a dog comes running over.  He barks at you and grabs you by the pant leg.  He's not a mean dog; he's just trying to get you to go with him for some reason.  I feel an adventure coming on!  Tell us where the dog takes you and your friends, and what you discover there.  

11-13 year-olds:   Mom comes home from a shopping trip and hands you a bag.  When you open it you see the most hideous pair of shoes in the world.  Unfortunately, Mom thinks they are super cool and makes you put them on.  Little does she know that they are magical shoes.  It's going to be an interesting day when those shoes take you where they want you to go!

Week #10 Prompts:

Thru age 5:  What do you see when you're riding along?  Do you see squirrels while riding in a stroller?  Do you see trees passing you by in a car, bus, or train?  Do you see the lights of the station up ahead in a subway, or a tiny town from an airplane window?  I see you writing a story about what you see! 

6-10 year-olds:  Guess what day it is.  It's Opposite Day!  Up is down, left is right, and good is bad.  I wonder what kind of day you'll have on Opposite day.  One thing's for sure, your story will be boring!  (See what I did there?  "Boring" is really "exciting" on Opposite Day.  Oh, forget it.  Wait, that means remember it!  Make it stop!!)

11-13 year-olds:  Magic wands are so last year.  Be the coolest kid on the block with your magic pancake, lint, or nose hair clippers!  Well, maybe those aren't the best examples, but I know you can imagine something that's out of this world.  You start writing while I eat those magic pancakes!  Yummy!

Week #9 Prompts:

Thru age 5:  Ask Mom or Dad to put on some music or just sing your favorite song.  Now do a silly dance.  (Maybe Mom or Dad can take pictures or video.)  Tell a story about how your body moved when you danced.  Did your arms go up in the air?  Did you shake your hips?  Did you kick your feet?  It's fun to dance and to write stories!  

6-10 year-olds:  Pick any 10 food items (they can be gross or delicious) and write a story about why you love pizza with those toppings and what reaction you got from the waiter or cook when you ordered that crazy pizza.  My stomach hurts just thinking of all the weird possibilities!

11-13 year-olds:  Your scientifically talented best friend invents a time machine using a blender, a toilet bowl, and a cell phone.  How that's possible, I don't know!  Maybe you can explain it to us.  What time period would you and your friend visit?  Don't forget to come back in time for dinner.  You don't want your parents to worry!

Week #8 Prompts:

Thru age 5:  Look around your house or outside for things that are red, blue, yellow, and green.  Write or tell a little story about each thing.  You might see a bird, a blanket, some grass or a vegetable.  Draw pictures to go with your stories.  They will be very colorful!  

6-10 year-olds:  Guess what.  The new librarian at your school is... wait for it... AN ALIEN (insert blood-curdling scream here)!!  Wait!  Why are we screaming?  Maybe he or she is a nice alien.  Hey, you never know.  It's up to you to decide.  Wow us with your creativity and imagination!

11-13 year-olds:  Write an outrageous commercial like the ones we've all seen on television.  Take any normal item that you use every day and make it seem like the best new invention.  You can even act it out with your friends.  You know, like this.  "Shoes!  They're great for your feet!  Put your dad's shoes on a little kid and make him look like a clown!  Buy one shoe and get the second for free!  But wait, there's more..."

Week #7 Prompts:

Thru age 5:  One hot summer day a little boy (or girl) was splashing about in his pool.  He loved cooling off and playing with his pool toys. The plastic fish, whales, and seahorses bobbed in the waves the little boy created.  He wondered what it would be like to swim in the ocean with real fish, whales, and seahorses.  What do you think it would be like to be in the ocean with your fishy friends?  Tell us your story and draw a picture of your adventure. 

6-10 year-olds:  Ask a family member or friend to give you three verbs (action words).  No matter what they are, believe it or not, that's the latest sports craze.  Now write about playing that silly sport!  Tell us the rules, what the fans wear to watch, the team names, and why exactly it is the latest craze.  When I visited a school via Skype, the sport they came up with was Running-Walking-Sleeping. That's not a real sport... or is it? 

11-13 year-olds:  A letter with no return address arrives in the mail.  You open it and read in amazement that you have been granted three wishes. One wish you must give to someone else to use and the other two are for you to use as you'd like.  It warns that you must make the wishes and then say the magic words or things will go terribly wrong.  Once your wishes are made, the wish-grantor will be revealed.  I wonder who will receive your gift wish and why, what the magic words are, and who the mysterious wish-grantor is!  The suspense is killing me!

Week #6 Prompts:

Thru age 5:  Do you have a favorite doll, stuffed animal, or toy?  Tell a story about what you would do together if you could magically make it come to life.  Would you eat bananas with your stuffed monkey, have a real tea party with your dolls, or ride around the neighborhood in your toy train?  Those all sound like fun to me!   

6-10 year-olds:  In my book What About Barnaby? the main character, Zeke, has an awesome tree house that he built with his dad.  He has some pretty cool gadgets in it including a snack ordering system, a binocular stand, a firehouse pole, and a dog elevator.  If you could build the most awesome tree house or play house in the world, what would you put in it?  Make it so great that your friends won't ever want to leave!

11-13 year-olds:  A freak power surge mysteriously zaps your friend into the video game you're playing together.  How will you get him or her out?  Oh, no, all those levels and bad guys!  If my friend got zapped into a video game, she'd probably be stuck there forever... that's how bad a player I am!  (If you prefer, imagine that your friend has been zapped into a television show or a movie instead.  Now write them out!)   

Week #5 Prompts:

Thru age 5:  I love snacks!  Fruit, veggies, and sometimes milk and cookies!  Write a story about your favorite snack.  How does it taste and smell and how does it feel in your mouth and in your tummy?  Do you buy it at the grocery store or do you help Mom or Dad make it at home?  I love ooey, gooey, chocolaty chip cookies and chilly, willy milk! 

6-10 year-olds:  Grab a piece of paper and a pen or your computer.  Make a list like the one below and fill in each blank with the word indicated.  (Moms and dads may need to help with some of the words.)  Then, scroll way, way down to the very end of this post.  Use the words you've selected to plug into the paragraph.  NO PEEKING UNTIL YOU'VE FILLED IN ALL THE BLANKS UP HERE! Now use the completed story as your writing prompt.  Add details to each paragraph to make the story come to life as only you can.  The sillier the better!

  1.  Past tense verb __________

  2.  Animal __________
  3.  Vegetable __________
  4.  Adjective __________
  5.  Noun __________
  6.  Color __________
  7.  Noun __________
  8.  Girl's name that starts with the letter A __________
  9.  Boy's name that starts with the letter N __________
10.  Planet __________
11.  Adjective __________
12.  Food __________
13.  Shape __________
14.  Plural noun __________
15.  Noun __________
16.  Past tense verb __________
17.  Adjective __________
18.  Fruit __________
19.  Adjective __________

11-13 year-olds:  Use the following 10 words in a short story titled This is What Happens When You Wake Up Late for School!  Will it make sense?  Probably not!  Is that okay?  It's not just okay, it's awesome!

  1.  Discombobulated
  2.  Ingenious 
  3.  Bewildered
  4.  Perhaps
  5.  Gaseous
  6.  Cinnamon
  7.  Amphibian
  8.  Meander
  9.  Shriek
10.  Bacon 

Week #4 Prompts:
Thru age 5:  Draw a picture of your family, then tell a little story about each person.  Do you have a silly person in your family?  What about a grumpy person?  Don't forget to tell us something about yourself, too! 

6-10 year-olds:  What do you see when you look at puffy white clouds?  A dolphin, a cupcake, a bicycle?  Write a story about what you see and how the clouds change as they zip across the sky.  When I look at clouds I see a good story!

11-13 year-olds:  Where's your favorite place to be?  The park, the movies, your room?  Go to that place or just think about being there.  Using your senses, tell us what you see, smell, taste (make sure it doesn't have mold growing on it), hear, and feel and tell us why it's your favorite place to be. 

Week #3 Prompts:

Thru age 5I love to go to the park and swing high on the swings and twirl around until I get dizzy.  Tell about something fun you like to do with your family or friends. 

6-10 year-olds:  Your parents finally let you have a pet, but it's not just any pet.  It's an elephant!  What would you do with your giant pet?  How would you give him a bath and would your teacher let you bring him to school on "Bring Your Pet to School Day"?  Don't forget the peanuts!

11-13 year-olds:  If you could write yourself into a book that you've read, which book would it be and what character would you be?  Write a scene where you would interact with the main characters.  Wow, talk about getting lost in a book!  Don't forget to come back!  

Week #2 Prompts:

Thru age 5:  Tell a story about the two little girls in the picture.  Do you know where they are and what they are doing?  What do you think they might be talking about? 

6-10 year-olds:  You enter a contest and win two airplane tickets to anywhere in the world.  Who would you take with you, where would you go, and what would you do in that special place?  Don't forget to send us a postcard!

11-13 year-olds:  You find the entrance to a secret tunnel behind an old piece of furniture in the basement.  Do you dare enter the tunnel to see where it leads?  If you do, give us every juicy, scary, adventurous little detail!   

Week #1 Prompts:
Thru age 5:  Pretend you are a puppy or a kitten.  Tell us what you look like, what your name is and what kinds of things you like to do. 
6-10 year-olds:  You're the designer so give us all the awesome details of the best kid's room ever!  I already know what I'd put in there... a giant jar of M&Ms! 
11-13 year-olds:  What if you could have a super power?  Well, you can if you imagine it.  Tell us what it would be and how you would use it.  Were you born with it or did you acquire it?  I can't wait to read all the details!
Come back again next week for more prompts to help you keep those writing juices flowing this summer!
Until then... stay cool!

Week #5 Prompt:  Use this story with Week #5 prompt above for 6-10 year-olds.

What I did on My Summer Vacation
The best summer vacation ever started when my family and I (past tense verb) on a/an (animal) and headed to the beach.  There we saw a group of kids making a sand sculpture using a bucket, a shovel, and some (vegetable).  They let us join in the fun and when we were done, we had made the most (adjective) (noun) I've ever seen.
A few weeks later, my parents made me go to Camp (color) (noun).  I thought it was going to be boring, but once I met my new friends (girl's name that starts with the letter A) Asteroid and (boy's name that starts with the letter N) Nebula from (planet), I knew it was going to be fun.  Our favorite thing at camp was when we gathered around the campfire and ate (adjective) (food) out of (shape) (plural noun).
Finally, my cousin and I went to the movies to watch The Day the (noun) Stood Still.  The 3-D effects were awesome!  We (past tense verb) out of our seats every time the (adjective) (fruit) came off the screen toward us.  I don't think we'll ever see a movie as (adjective) as that one as long as we live.
That's what I did on my summer vacation.  What did you do?


  1. Nice prompts. I am older than 5 but I still would like to pretend I am a puppy.

    I am chocolate brown with large tan paws. My floppy ears are also brown. That's why I'm called a mix. My days are spent running after balls and chasing squirrels. If you come near my family, I will jump between you until I know you are a safe person. I get treats when I do this.

    Thanks for the prompts. A kid lit blog hop hostess, here to say "Hi!" I am not at Google any more. Instead, I am here: Sue @ Kid Lit REviews

    1. Hi Sue!
      You are such a cute puppy! Thanks for stopping by. I think I'm already following you there but I'll double-check.

    2. Hi Martha,

      I do not have your email, so I am here again. I hope this is okay. I would love for your to join a book tour. The information is below.

      I am putting together a book blog tour for a children's book. It is book 2 in the Pen Pieyu Adventure series, called Princess Petra's Talent, and can stand on its own. The author is award-winning Diane Robinson, the recipient of the prestigious Alberta Canada's Emerging Artist of the Year for Literary Arts 2012 for book 1, Sir Princess Petra.

      The tour begins on September 24, 2013, the day of the book's release. It is published by Tate Publishing. This is not a self-published book, if that matters.

      Please send me an email if you are interested in this delightful and funny series for girls. The books will be mailed out in early August and many dates are available.

    3. This is a fantastic post! Great recommendations for kids that love to write - perfect for kids that need the practice during the summer.

    4. Aw, thanks Amanda! I'm so glad you stopped by. I'll be adding new prompts each week so please stop by again soon!

  2. Fabulous prompts Martha. AS you know we are no where near this stage, but it is so awesome to keep collecting these kinds of tips. Thanks so much for being part of the Kid Lit Blog Hop

    1. Thanks Julie! And another huge thanks for reviewing What About Barnaby? and hosting a giveaway. So sweet of you!

  3. These are great. Stanley & Katrina just pinned this to their "Writing for Kids" board. We won What About Barnaby, too and look forward to reading it.
    Have a Great rest of the week.
    Cool Mom/Christine M.
    Techie for Stanley & Katrina

  4. WOW! Thanks for stopping by, Christine and for pinning it. Congratulations on winning a copy of What About Barnaby?! I hope you enjoy it.

    Hope you have a great rest of the week, too. I've got a couple of Skype school visits with 3rd graders this week and next. Always excited to meet the kiddos! :)

  5. I love that you mention little ones can still participate by dictating their stories. Great post!

    1. Hi Monika. So glad you liked the post. How could I not include the littlest ones? They are just as creative as the older kiddos as long as it's a topic they can relate to and puppies and kittens never fail!

      Thank you for stopping by. :)

  6. My 2 year old loves to make up little stories!

  7. My kiddos used to do the same thing and draw pictures to go with them. It's fun to make a book together and they can share it with siblings and friends!

    Thanks for stopping by Darcy! :)

  8. More great prompt Martha, I am still taking notes for when Gigi is older. Hope you are having a real cool summer too. Thanks for joining the hop again.

    1. Thanks Julie. I'm sure you'll have some great ideas for her, too. How lucky to have a Mommy who just happens to be an author! :)

  9. Absolutely love your prompts, Martha. Little guys even enjoy drawing a story rather than telling orally. Thanks for sharing with the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Cheryl, Hop Hostess

    1. Hi Cheryl,
      Thanks for your sweet words. Love the Kid Lit Blog Hops. So many great links there!

      Yes, it's fun for them to draw their stories, too! Future illustrators, maybe?!

  10. Hopping through via the Kid Lit hop! Thanks for this list - as a homeschooling mom, I'm always looking for new writing prompts for journaling! I'm now following your blog via GFC and Networked Blogs (in case GFC goes away).

    Nicole @ Best Kids' Reads

    1. Hi Nicole,
      Thanks for stopping by! I hope you'll be able to use some of these with your kiddos. If you do, I'd love to read their stories. Send them over.

  11. Writing prompts for the summer are an excellent idea! My son is 2, so I will take the thru 5 ideas home to him tonight. I am betting you are in for some fantastic stories in your email! Thanks so much for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop. I'm very excited to try these!

    1. I hope your little one enjoys making up some stories using the prompts. You never know what you're going to get. That's half the fun!

  12. The awesome prompts continue Martha, we really need to bottle you for the future, lol. Thanks again for linking in to the Kid Lit Blog Hop and we hope you are having "A REEL COOL SUMMER" LOL
    Cheers Julie Grasso (hostess)

    1. Hi Julie! LOL! Thanks for always stopping by to see the new prompts. Before you know it your little one will be able to write using these. It goes by quickly so enjoy every minute! I'll keep posting them for you. I may have to do it through the school year as well.

      Hope you're having A Reel Cool Summer, too! :)

  13. I SO needed this! DD is home for summer and the one thing we havent been doing is writing! Thanks for the "timely" post and tips :)
    Stopping over from Kid Lit Bloghop

    1. Hi Reshama!
      Thank you for stopping by. I'm so glad I posted these just when you needed them. Things just have a way of working out, don't they? I hope some good stories come out of them. I'd love to read them if DD would like to share.

  14. Great prompts! I just love looking at old journals of stories and pictures that my boys created during summer breaks when they were young. They are priceless to me and usually good for a chuckle or two.

    1. Thank you!

      We just went through boxes and boxes of our kids' school stuff and found ourselves laughing at the cutest things they wrote and drew! I have to admit we cried a little, too. Some really sweet Mother's and Father's Day notes and drawings, too. Adorable!

  15. This is a wonderful post/blog. Would yo be interested in a guest post in a similar vein on my blog?

    1. Hi Darlene,
      Thank you for your kind words! I'm so glad you stopped by. I would be honored to write a guest post for your blog. I'll send you an email now so we can discuss exactly what you're looking for.

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. Love these prompts! They look like lots of fun! And how wonderful that you included different activities for different age groups. Glad to have found this post :)

    1. Thanks Susanna! I'm glad you like them. I'm having fun sharing them here.

      I've had the wonderful opportunity to visit schools in person and via Skype and I see how different age groups react to the games we play to get our writing juices flowing. I knew that the same prompts just wouldn't do for everyone, so I decided to split them up. I hope the kids are enjoying them.

      So glad you stopped in!

  18. I already hit the print button on this page :) Thanks for the writing prompts. Looking forward to working on these!

    1. Thanks for coming back Reshama. Hope you're having fun with these! :)

  19. These are fantastic!!! Thanks so much for sharing. I always print out writing prompts like these when I find them and laminate them. We then keep a big box of them around so when it's journaling time in our homeschool, we can dig through for ideas or choose one randomly. I will DEFINITELY be adding these!

    Thanks for linking up to Booknificent Thursday! Hope to see you again this week!

    1. Hi Tina!
      Thanks for inviting me to link up at Booknificent. I'm happy to be there with you. I love your idea of laminating these for future use. I hope you get to read some interesting stories when the kiddos get to writing!

  20. This is wonderful! Even though the writing prompts are for the summer, they can be easily modified for any season. Write a spooky Halloween story???

    Thank you for sharing and linking up at the Kid Lit Blog Hop,

    1. Hi Maria,
      Thanks for stopping by from the Kid Lit Blog Hop. I hope the kiddos will use these year round. Sometimes it's hard to get started writing but I think these will help the kiddos out!

  21. Wow Martha! This must have been a lot of work! These are absolutely fantastic - it doesn't matter if it's for summer, they can be used year round. Ok, I'm sooooo pinning this! Thanks so much for adding your link in the Kid Lit Blog Hop. :-)

    1. Hi Renee!
      So sweet of you. It was fun coming up with these. I'll add more from time to time. I hope the kids can get their writing juices flowing no matter what time of year. Thanks for pinning it! See you at the next Kid Lit Blog Hop!

  22. Lots of great ideas here to get kids excited about writing! Our family of teachers have used many similar ones over the years. Thanks for sharing on the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Cheryl, Hop Hostess

    1. Hi Cheryl,
      Thanks for stopping by. I loved putting these together for the kids. I hope teachers and parents will try these with the kiddos. It's even fun writing a story together as a family! Love the Kid Lit Blog Hop!