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Fun with Summer Writing Prompts




writing prompts

The summer is well underway. Many of us have been out of the school mind-set for several weeks now, and several never really stopped. Others of us (hand raised!) do something resembling the in-between.

When it comes to writing, however, many homeschoolers decide to “take the summer off.” While I can appreciate the need for breaks (we can all use them), I like to think of writing as one of those things we should all do, as much as possible, until it’s a more integral part of how we communicate and express ourselves creatively. Unlike many areas of study, writing is both an art and a science, which often makes it so confounded difficult to master. There are many conventions we are expected to adhere to, and yet, writing in its many forms can be entirely subjective.

Instead of assigning an essay to your high schooler, or asking your elementary-aged child to write a report on his summer vacation, why not try to make writing a little more fun this summer?

I’ve compiled a few (fun!) writing prompts from my weekly Facebook series Wednesday Write in addition to one from my Teen Short Story Writing Circle class.

1) Study this image and do one of three things:

writing prompts

1) Describe what you see in as much detail as possible
2) Write a poem inspired by the image
3) Begin a short story about the image

2) Go outside.

Take a blanket or chair with you and a timer (that’s it).

And then, do this:

Find a comfortable place — shady if it’s sunny.

Close your eyes for five minutes — don’t open them until the timer goes off.

Focus on three things (no more, although you can choose less):

What do you HEAR? Animals, people, machines, wind, water?
What do you FEEL? Heat, chill, rain, humidity, creepy-crawlies?
What do you SMELL? Grass, flowers, exhaust, nothing?

When the timer goes off, go back inside (no lingering right now). Set the timer for another five-minutes. Write down, using as much detail as possible, everything you heard, felt, and/or smelled. How can you convey these things so that we can “see” them–not just hear, feel, or smell them?

3) “These Three Words”

Take “These Three Words” and write a sentence, a poem, or a story. Any length is ok!

Crickets, Sandal, Music

4) “Take Three Objects”

“Take Three Objects” that you find around your house–unusual things that aren’t easily described. Set a timer for five-minutes for each object and have your writer describe these objects in as much detail as possible using sensory images (sight, touch, sound–if it makes a noise). And don’t eat it unless it’s edible.

Have your writer read the description aloud to a family member or friend. Can they guess what the object is just based on the writer’s description? You can modify this into a fun game with two or more players.

5) Invent a Character

Take someone you see on the street or in the supermarket. Imagine a life for this person, and you’ve got a fictional character. Now give your character an obstacle to overcome and you’ve got the basis for a great short story!

Don’t forget that you can write, too–right along with your children! If they see you having fun with the writing prompts, they will be much less likely to believe this is part of their summer curriculum (wink, wink!).

Be sure to follow Gathering Ink on Facebook so you won’t miss today’s Wednesday Write!

Angela (27 Posts)

Angela is co-founder of Mosaic Freeschool and a homeschooling mom to two never-been-to school kids. Born in Southern California and raised on the East Coast, Angela had a bit of an unconventional education, but did not consider homeschooling seriously until her first child was born. Believing that young children learn best from those that love them most, Angela and her husband John chose homeschooling for their two boys. She is dedicated to the advancement of alternative education choices, creating the web-site Raising Autodidacts in 2011 to further explore the idea of fostering the self-taught individual. In June of 2013, she started an instructional writing service called Gathering Ink .

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Our Experience: Charlotte Mason Institute 2014 Education Conference Part 1

As soon as I heard about the Charlotte Mason Institute’s 2014 Education Conference, I was saving my pennies and planning to attend. Of course I took my kids with me. They were super excited at first because a handful of teens they know sometimes attend. Unfortunately this year none of them were able to. Regardless, both of my kids took away some good things from the conference.

CMI experience graphic 1

We’d never gone to a homeschool convention, or an education conference. We really weren’t sure what to expect. Let me tell you this: We are going next year! It was very good. I want to say “amazing!”, “awesome!”, “spectacular!” but really it was such a calm and wonderful atmosphere that those words just seem out of place. It was great. It was wonderful. I would like to share with you our time at the CMI Conference. And I encourage you to plan to attend in 2015.

You might want to get a cup of something and get comfy. This will be split into parts though, for easier reading. This part will focus on in-between but important bits that we participated in, or that were available. The second part will talk about the workshop/sessions that we personally attended, and briefly about others that were offered. Finally, part three will share the plenaries (the ‘sessions’ that included all attendees in the ‘big room’).

This year was extra special because it coincided with CMI’s 10th anniversary, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s book For the Children’s Sake 30th anniversary, and Charlotte Mason’s Liberal Education for All Movement- 100th anniversary! Liberal education for all. Wow.


The conference hymn, which we were able to participate in singing on Thursday and Friday morning, is a favorite of mine. Be Thou My Vision- Writer Unknown, Old Irish Hymn. The first time I heard of this hymn was when a reader of our family’s little newsletter requested it to be featured one week. It’s a great hymn that really makes me think of how much I need to focus on God’s Will and not my own. And you know, that’s what Charlotte Mason thought, too. Children are a gift from God; lent to us for just a little while. We have to take care of them in His way.

That’s how the conference started for us. And it is a good thing it did because after 10+ hours of driving, I’d begun to wonder if I’d made a mistake in spending the money and time to attend.

CMI hymn

Click on this to see it larger.

I do believe that God has ordered our paths; whether we choose to follow right away or take the long way is another story! We got home from the conference on Saturday morning (1 am *morning*). The hymn we sang at church on Sunday? Be Thou My Vision. God was talking to me and the kids while we were at the conference. I know we were paying attention.

The poem for the conference, which we didn’t actually get to hear recited, was Emily Dickinson’s “He Ate and Drank the Precious Words”.

Click to see this larger.

Click to see this larger.

Picture Study/Nature Walk

We also were able to take part in a picture study of Jean-Francois Millet’s Woman Baking Bread. They gave everyone an 8×11 print to take home. I really enjoyed participating with others at our table. We’ve only done CM in our own homeschool; we’ve no others to discuss in person with the great things we come across.

There were also nature walks each day but we didn’t get to participate in those because there was just too much going on. Okay, I might have been a little tired (did I mention the incredibly long drive?).

While we didn’t go on any of the nature walks with a group we very much enjoyed taking our time when we were going to and from the apartments to activities. There is such a variety of plants on the Gardner-Webb University campus! For whatever reason I forgot to take my camera out of my purse, even though I had it with me the entire time. I got just a few photos but this is one of my favorite. It was a Northern Mockingbird gracing us with a territorial dance.

Click the image to see it larger.

Click the image to see it larger.

Tea Time/Folksongs

One of our favorite parts was the tea time. Not for the tea because unfortunately the hot water ran out before we could get any tea. But no real worries there; we had plenty of yummy pastries from the coffee shop that is on campus. And I had coffee. If you can’t have tea, have coffee and pastries! But really the highlight was the singing. Folk songs. The folk song artist being featured, if you will, was Pete Seeger. He passed away January of this year.

The girl who led the singing was 14 year old Marley Spencer (same age and whose birthday is the same month as my son’s; yeah, he was impressed *wink*). She sang “This Land Is Your Land”, “Little Boxes”, and “Turn, Turn, Turn”. The audience had opportunity to sing along. “Little Boxes” is a favorite of our family, so you bet we were singing along.

Marley is the daughter of the Willow Tree Community School‘s lead teacher, Jen Spencer.

Meet & Greet

There were probably many meet & greets but we had tunnel vision for just one. If you know us, you’ll not be surprised that it was the Ambleside Online meet and greet. I was so excited to finally get to meet in real life some of my friends from the forum. There were people there who were interested in AO, as well as those who have been using the curriculum.

I hope you’ll join me next time to talk more about the CMI 2014 Education Conference: A Liberal Education for All.


North Laurel (8 Posts)

Blossom- "North Laurel" to the online world- lives in Ohio with her husband and two teens, homeschooling the Charlotte Mason way with Ambleside Online. She is graciously allowed to be a moderator for the Ambleside Online Forum. North Laurel loves to read, be on the computer, and learn. You can read her blogging about homeschooling, book reviews and life in general at North Laurel Home & School.

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7 Steps to Summer Learning Adventure!

Do you homeschool year round?  Or maybe you take a long break during the summer months only to find that the kids fall into an “I’m bored” malaise?  No matter what your schooling schedule or method, sometimes you need to take a break from your regular routine.

Embarking on a short, interest-led unit study can reap big learning returns and inject some adventure into your days. Tweet this

7 Steps to Interest-Led LearningNow, I’m not one to crow about making learning fun.  Sometimes it just isn’t.

But I’ve seen my kids get really excited about a topic and dive in, head first, to learn all they can about it…and it sticks with them over the long-term in ways that the stuff they have to do doesn’t.

When the kids have a personal investment in what they are learning, when it really matters to them, when they can see it’s application in their lives—their brains just soak it up and their drive to know motivates them to go above and beyond anything I might plan for them.

In our corner of the globe, we are feeling a bit of the summer doldrums.  The sun is bright, hot, and uncomfortable for much of the day.  The window AC is going full blast.  Math has become a chore.  The Wii seems to be calling their names.  It’s a perfect time to put aside our regularly scheduled program and pursue a learning adventure, whether it be for a day, a week, or a month.

7 Steps to a Great Interest-Led Unit Study:

1.  Poll your kids to find out what they want to know about.

Or listen carefully to see what interests pop up in everyday conversation.  You might be surprised what they come up with.

One year we studied flying fish and hammerhead sharks!

While you’re finding out what topic they want to investigate, find out how they want to approach it—this will help you to narrow down the types of resources you will research.

2.  Decide how long you want your study to last and how in-depth you want it to be.

This will depend in part on your kids’ level of interest, how much time you have to devote to your study, and how many quality resources you can find to use.  Having an idea of how much time and energy you want to devote will help you to know how many and what type of resources to look for.  You may decide you just want to learn about the topic at hand, or you may decide to add in science experiments or follow some interesting rabbit trails.

3.  Take a survey of your own resources.

If you’re like me, you’ve got gigs of freebies on your hard-drive and a zillion bookmarks in your browser that you’ve never gotten around to using.  That free coloring book of song birds could make a great centerpiece for a month of bird watching.  That website with all the cool intro to engineering projects for kids would be perfect for exploring physics.

4.  What’s available at your local library?

Don’t forget to look for documentaries and audios in addition to books.  If it’s not at your local branch, you may be able to request it from your library system.

5.  Are there any local field trip possibilities for this topic?

It doesn’t have to be an official field trip destination!  A pond might afford the opportunity of looking for tadpoles and frogs.  A park could be a great place to watch birds.  An art gallery could allow you to see different painting styles close up.  Maybe a friend has a hobby farm or raises chickens?

6.  Fill in with free internet resources.

Google has made finding stuff super easy.  You can find articles, videos, coloring pages, experiments, lapbooks, and more.  Make sure that you preview any websites before unleashing your kids on them.  The internet is an unpredictable place.

7.  Make a schedule…or don’t.

Once you’ve gathered together your resources, you might choose to make a schedule so you don’t forget to use any of them.  You can pre-print all the coloring pages.  Make a plan for lapbooking.  Devise a science experiment.

Or not.

Jot down a few notes or type a complete schedule into excel—whatever works for you.

This is your family’s study. It can be as fluid or organized as you want (or need) it to be.

I find it helpful to keep a file on my computer or tablet with possible websites to visit and a brief description of what they are so I can just click on them when it’s time.  I do print things that need to be printed, but only a day at a time.  Sometimes our plans change.

To get you started, try out the Flying Fish Mini Unit Study we did a couple of years ago.  It includes lapbooking suggestions, links to videos, and more (100% free).

Free Flying Fish Unit Study

Are you ready to embark on your own interest-led learning adventure?


Susan Anadale (5 Posts)

Susan is a wife, a mother, a Catholic, a teacher, a writer, a philosopher, a seamstress, a maker of things, an imaginer of worlds...I blog about our lifelong journey through learning at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds (my brain on the web).

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