- Pinkie paint writing: Get the ideas flowing by having kids write words with their pinkie fingers dipped in colorful paint such as purple or pink. (Works well for short assignments such as a haiku or other short poem, kids probably won't mind then having to write as assigned--in ink or pencil, or it's even easier if they can use the computer).
- Word Stretcher: Write sentences on a big piece of butcher paper and see how far it can stretch from room to room. When completed paint pictures on it and hang like a banner or streamer. (Ideal for K-3 assignments where student has to write at least four sentences, so the paper will stretch far).
- Glitter Writing: Think of words that describe dreams or things one imagines. Write them on index cards with glue and put glitter on them. Put them on a bulletin board and the next time the child has to use descriptive words in a sentence or an assignment, he can refer back to them.
- Practice makes perfect: The more kids write, the better they'll be at it. Write a note to your child and ask him or her to write you back.
- Descriptive Writing: Write a list of "my favorite feelings" or "my happy feelings". Color them. Make copies, laminate them and use them for place mats at the dinner table. Writing this type of list makes students more comfortable with descriptive, creative writing.
- Rhyming Words: Start a list of rhyming words. Provide the first word on the list and have kids add to it. Post the list on the fridge so it's easy to add on to. By the time the poetry assignment comes along, they'll practically have it finished, or at least not struggle with words that rhyme.
- Poetry Reading: Because reading and writing go hand-in-hand, provide your kids with anthologies or other writings by young adults. Talk about the poems.
- Music Muse: Put on music that the child or teen likes. Tell them to write down the key words in the songs that they are listening to. This will give them ideas of how-to-turn a phrase as well as descriptive words.
- Activate Your Imagination: Imagine yourself doing something out of this world, such as being able to fly. Write about where you would go. How would things look from the air? Would you land and look around? Write about this in the present tense. (This topic and other imaginary ideas might be a good exercise during the summer or other school vacation. File this on the computer, it might become a college application essay or be tweaked for a homework assignment).
- Reward Ideas: Frame writing accomplishments from home or school and display in prominent place for all to see. Make a stay-out late (half-hour to one) card for middle school students and use coupons for younger students who complete writing assignments: Play in the park, one frozen yogurt, stay up half an hour later, etc.
Dr. Catherine Athans, a Bay Area licensed therapist, and author of the book, "Just Imagine", a pocket-sized book perfect for inspiring teens and adults to be creative and realize their potential, says parents can help their children be creative and feel confident in their writing by implementing the following tips that have advice applicable to various age levels to get kids to write more and to enjoy it:
Dr. Athans is committed to encouraging and inspiring students with their writing. She is conducting a book drive to provide almost 1,800 Oakland Unified School District high school juniors with a copy of her book, Just Imagine, to be used as part of the district's poetry curriculum. A $15 donation provides 5 books.
Poems written as part of the curriculum will be included in an Oakland City-Wide Anthology with the theme, "I Am the Future" and will be judged. Winners will receive scholarships from Project SOAR which helps OUSD high school juniors prepare for college.
For more information, go to www.catherineathans.com or www.justimaginebookdrive.dojiggy.com