Writing exercises for kids–suggestions?

You may remember a couple weeks back I talked about a kids writing workshop I’m running this month. I think it’s going really well and the kids are turning out some great stories, but I am finding that a few of the kids are finishing a lot faster than the others, which means I need to find something for them to do. It’s not so much that they write faster, but that they write less for each part of their stories, and each of my prods to “write more about X” leads to them maybe adding another sentence or two.

So I’d like to offer them writing exercises that would give them some practice in fleshing out action and description. Anyone have suggestions of some that would be fun? I figure I’ll come up with something better picking your brains than just on my own. 🙂


Writing exercises for kids–suggestions? — 5 Comments

  1. Hi Megan,
    Seems like you might try timed writing, that is, you can write anything related to your story but just keep writing to the buzzer. You can use space, too, asking them to just fill up a particular amount of paper (I use 1/4 of a regular notebook page) in their regular-size handwriting. Always afterward the writers go back and find what they like best from this rough, dumping, brainstorming sort of writing, and then expand that for another timed period — even if the only thing new they got from it was a single word! Have fun. It’s great that you have enthusiastic writers!


  2. Hi. I’m a writer in residence for a grade 6/7 class this year and I probably can help you. I’m finishing up first pass pages on my second novel today, but we can chat by email, if you want, this weekend.

    One thing I do, to sort of keep those quick writers on track with everyone else is I tell them how long they have to write the story and then as they’re writing, I check in with them. For example, I say, “Okay, you have about fifteen minutes to do this exercise.” Then after five minutes, I say, “Okay, you should have finished the beginning of your story and be moving on the middle. And at the ten minute mark I say, “Wrap up the middle and start thinking about the climax/ending.” And at two minutes, I say, “We have about two minutes. How are you doing? Do you need a couple of extra minutes?” I think some kids are afraid of not finishing, so they write short. If you keep checking in with them, they can pace themselves. I have a few kids who aren’t writing at all, but since my residency is supposed to be fun and they don’t get graded on it, I just ask them to “respect the writers in the room” and be quiet. Another fun thing for fast writers is to have them illustrate their stories.

    • I have been letting them know how much time they have for each part of the story. (We broke it into beginning, middle, and end.) I think the problem with the kids this is happening with is that they aren’t hugely enthusiastic about writing in the first place. Maybe they thought it would be fun to do the workshop, or their parents thought it’d be good for them. (It’s free, offered through the public library, so they’re not *all* super eager.) So they are just writing the bare minimum. The illustration idea has been my go-to so far, and it’s worked pretty well, though! 🙂 Thanks!

  3. How about asking them to think of a scene in a movie they like and describe it in as much detail as they can. It wouldn’t be working on their stories… but at least it might get them thinking about how to describe things in more detail?

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