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 .


A Word From Our Sponsors

Homeschool Products from Nest Learning
***ART PROJECTS curriculum –ages 10+ -fulfills high school fine arts credit 10% off + FREE SHIPPING in U.S. Code: STL Offer expires September 30th http://www.seethelightshine.com***

Keyboard Classroom: Time Tested Techniques Taught at Home

Keyboard Classroom Review

Using patent-pending finger guides and traditional typing techniques, Keyboard Classroom creates proficient typists in 6 months.

I took my first typing class in junior high. I remember the electric typewriters being huge brown humming machines. Lined up in rows, these loud, clacking machines were almost as intimidating as my typing instructor. She would slowly walk up and down the rows of students, calling out letters one at a time, faster and faster, watching as we struggled to remember which finger to move.

I loved that class. My teacher scared me, but I loved that class. After more than 20 years, I am still one of the fastest typist I know, and I am certain it is because of proper finger positioning skills learned that year. They were no-fluff lessons that focused on repetitive motions to create muscle memory, and it worked beautifully. I may not remember what I fixed for dinner last night but my fingers still know the home keys and how to use them.

My husband, who skipped typing class and took a basic computer course instead, does the whole hunt-and-peck thing. He can type code pretty quickly, but full paragraphs take him awhile. Our children are hunters-and-peckers. It makes me bonkers, and it affects their spelling. Typing takes so long, that they take shortcuts and skip letters just to be done. They are happy to spend hours telling me every detail of their newest novel idea but writing or typing it out is a struggle. I am lucky to get a three sentence synopsis.

That is all about to change. Keyboard Classroom is turning my children into real typists, in just 15 minutes a day.

What is Keyboard Classroom?

Keyboard Classroom is a digitally downloaded software program that teaches typing, using proven techniques of building muscle memory, allowing students to more effortlessly put thought into print. Patent-pending finger guides easily attach to standard keyboards, helping students to keep their fingers in place. Low on fancy graphics, this program gets to the nuts and bolts of typing: muscle memory. By focusing on building muscle memory, students become more efficient at transferring thoughts into written word.

You can connect with them on their blog or their Facebook Page.

Why are Keyboarding Skills Important?

It seems nothing is handwritten anymore. My neighbor asked for a recipe yesterday, and instead of writing it on a notecard, she typed it into a notepad app on her phone. Kids are proficient at typing with their thumbs; but being able to type up full papers, letters, and presentations will require more than a phone keyboard. The ability to efficiently type on a full keyboard is a vital skill for today’s employees.

Will Keyboard Classroom Work For You?

  • Is your child easily distracted by cartoon-y and childish programs?
  • Would your child rather dictate an answer because writing or typing it out takes too long?
  • Do you have 15 minutes a day you can spend doing basic keystroke practices?
  • Do you prefer to have the games come after the work?

If you answered yes, then Keyboard Classroom will meet your needs! Fifteen minutes of diligent practice daily for 6 months and your child should be a proficient typist at 35 words per minute.

Is it Easy to Use?

Installing Keyboard Classroom required only a couple of moments and a restart of our computer. The finger guides went on easily once I figured out where to put them. My package did not have any diagram showing exactly where to stick the velcro, but a simple peek at the pictures on their site and we had them in place.

Setting up a new user was a simple as just typing a name. The start screen is shown below: Keyboard Classroom Start Page

On our first visit to the start page, we admittedly stopped and stared blankly at the screen, a bit unsure of what to click on first. I have, sadly, become accustomed to flashy arrows and sparkly .gif images to direct my next move and when presented with a classic interface that required me to decide what to do, I blanked. It really wasn’t complicated at all!

The first lesson is a simple letter practice exercise. They highlight which finger to use and where the key is found on the keyboard. Once I showed my daughter how to hold her hands on the home keys she was all set.

Keyboard Finger Trainer Practice

The next exercise worked typing the letters in order across the keyboard and utilizing the space bar.

Typing Words Practice Keyboard Classroom

Then you worked typing the letters in various combinations. I remember this being the tricky part for me in school, because the letters didn’t make actual words. This practice was no different!

Home Stretch Practice Keyboard Classroom

Our Fun With Keyboard Classroom

Houston, we found a problem; but we fixed it. After a couple of weeks of practicing, our computer crashed and had to be redone. All of the computers/laptops at our house, with the exception of mine, are Frankenstein machines built from parts being scrapped.  We are blessed to have so many, each with their own quirks and problems, so that when one fails, schoolwork can continue on something else. Unfortunately, this time, Sam lost all of her progress with Keyboard Classroom and had to start over. She didn’t seem to mind starting over; but she was upset to give up her finger guides.

The finger guides only fit correctly on standard keyboards. Laptop keyboards are too small. Samantha was so excited to see she could use the computer’s old keyboard (with the guides) via usb on her laptop. If you are like us, and use a laptop instead of a desktop pc, don’t fear. Basic style keyboards can be found as low as $15 new. I have even seen some at yard sales and thrift shops, just make sure they connect via usb.

Keyboard Classroom doesn’t let you skip ahead. I already type with ease,  and went looking for a way for me to practice more difficult exercises. I discovered that all typists, old and new, have to start from the beginning. I pouted for a bit, then realized that making everyone start at the beginning is brilliant! After doing a few of my daughter’s practices, it became apparent that my basic skills, my foundations of typing, needed refreshing. There was quite a bit of giggling every time Momma earned a little “X”.

How Can You Get It?

Keyboard Classroom can be ordered from their website and downloaded for immediate use. Finger guides will be shipped to you FREE. It is compatible with any Windows-based computer, or Macintosh running “Parallels” software. Intended for ages 8 and up.

I am very excited to share with you their NEW PRICING OPTIONS! A single user license plus FREE finger guides is $39.95 and can be reused by other students once the first student is done. You simply erase their data and start a new data file. Carrie Shaw, the creator of Keyboard Classroom, has created a new purchasing option just for families! Now you can get a family license with FREE finger guides for $49.95 that allows you to have up to FIVE users simultaneously! Now you don’t have to draw straws (like we did) to see who would get to learn first.

New Keyboard Classroom Homeschool Pricing for Families

The ability to communicate effectively is a necessity. Because so much communication today, is done digitally, the ability to efficiently put thoughts and ideas into written word is a much-needed skill. Motor skills, such as those honed in general computer and video game play, is not the same as typing proficiency. The ability to type quickly and correctly enhances school performance and eventually work place productivity.

Did you take formal typing lessons as a kid? Do you still remember to use your home-row?

 

Lisa Baldwin (61 Posts)

Disciple of Christ, Wife, Mother of Four, Homeschooler, Crafter, Designer (Graphics and CSS/HTML), Blogger. I share too much, laugh at the wrong things, and fall on my backside regularly. Thank goodness Jesus ignores all of that and loves me anyway.


A Word From Our Sponsors

Homeschool Products from Nest Learning
***ART PROJECTS curriculum –ages 10+ -fulfills high school fine arts credit 10% off + FREE SHIPPING in U.S. Code: STL Offer expires September 30th http://www.seethelightshine.com***

National Novel Writing Month

NaNoWriMo. NaNo, what? National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, begins each year on November 1. Every November, young writers (and adult writers, too) are encouraged to unleash their imaginations and write an entire novel in just 30 days!

Two years ago we offered a creative writing class to our homeschool group using the NaNoWriMo resources as our guide. Many of the children in the class were reluctant writers — including my own. I was hopeful, but doubtful. How were two boys who never wrote anything of their own free will and volition going to sit down and write a novel in one month?

At the time, we used the lesson plans from the Upper Elementary and Middle School curricula, which can be found free of charge on the Young Writers Program web-site. The lesson plans are certainly not necessary, but they do contain lots of great material for new writers, including: the basic elements of plot, creating well-developed characters, conflict within the context of a story, setting and dialogue, and much more. Even outside the parameters of the NaNoWriMo challenge, these lesson plans can be a great way to delve into literary analysis within your homeschool.

Free workbooks are also available on the web-site for download if you want to create a formal class or learning environment around the month-long novel writing adventure. The workbooks are written in a fun and engaging style and take a lot of the drudgery out of the preparation stage (if you choose to provide one).

The crux of National Novel Writing Month is to put aside the inner editor and just write, write, write for 30 days. The editing and polishing should be done after November 30. The high velocity approach forces you to put aside unreasonable expectations, take risks and write on the fly — something we often never think to do at home with our own writing curriculum or assignments!

So what became of those two little boys (at the time, ages 8 and 12) who never wanted to write? They set individual word count goals for the month of November, wrote nearly every day, and on November 30 met their goals and were declared winners of NaNoWriMo. Winners of the writing challenge receive a coupon code in December from NaNoWriMo for five free copies of their novels, shipping not included.

1066400

Sharing excerpts from our novels in 2011

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Kids of all ages can write a novel!

Fast forward two years, and here we are at it again! In a new state, with a new homeschool group, we are about to take on the challenge anew. It’s always such a treat to see these young writers accept the responsibility of meeting a word count goal, committing to it, and ultimately achieving that goal. Even those children for whom writing does not come easily, have the opportunity to experience a writing victory.

If you want to get in on the action, adults can participate, too, but you must write 50,000 words in order to be declared a NaNoWriMo winner. To sign up, click HERE.

To sign your kids up for the Young Writers Program where they can choose any word count goal that is appropriate for them, click HERE.

Have you tried NaNoWriMo in the past? Did you “win?” What was the experience like for you or your children? If you decide to take the challenge this November, tell us in the comment section so we can root for you all month long.

Happy Noveling!

nanowrimo

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 .


A Word From Our Sponsors

Homeschool Products from Nest Learning
***ART PROJECTS curriculum –ages 10+ -fulfills high school fine arts credit 10% off + FREE SHIPPING in U.S. Code: STL Offer expires September 30th http://www.seethelightshine.com***