Get kids writing with fun writing prompts

Writing prompts are used to engage children in the journaling process. Journaling is a term used in primary classrooms to indicate the activity of putting ideas on paper. When children can express themselves in writing, they feel empowered and proud.

Long ago, children were not generally given opportunities to journal until they could begin to spell correctly. Fortunately, that has changed and children are now encouraged to use inventive spelling to put their thoughts onto paper. Basically, inventive spelling is the process of listening to the sounds in words and writing the letters that make those sounds. Beginning writers often hear only a few sounds in a word they are trying to write. For example, the sentence I LIKE SCHOOL may look like this: I LK SK. As children grow and progress, more sounds are heard and added to the writing. Soon, that same sentence may be written this way:  I LIK SKL. (Children begin hearing long vowels sounds and ending consonant sounds.)  Inventive spelling is successful when a child can “read” his writing and repeat the intended message.

Writing Prompt Worksheets

When using these writing prompt worksheets, read the writing prompt at the top of the page and allow your child to discuss her response aloud if she wishes to do so. You will notice that the top half of the page is blank. This space is for your child to draw a picture to accompany her words on the bottom of the page. I always ask children to begin with the picture, as this gives them time to think and also provides cues for the message they will later put on the page. After 5 - 10 minutes of drawing, ask your child to begin writing her message. Remind her to “show her words” by listening to the sounds in the words and then writing the letters that make those sounds. Notice that I use the phrase “show words” rather than “spell words.” Young children know that they are not using conventional spelling and are comfortable writing when this is not the expectation. (Conventional spelling evolves with time, so do not be concerned about this now.)  Encourage your child to leave some blank space between her words, as this helps when trying to read the message. Also, let her know that she can return to her drawing when her words are complete.

Journal writing is an exciting activity. I am sure that you will enjoy hearing and seeing your child’s ideas as much as she will enjoy creating and sharing them.

Extra tips for encouraging inventive spelling and journal writing

  • Resist the temptation to spell a word for your child. Remind her that she is showing words with her letters and encourage her to listen to the sounds in the word(s) she is writing. You may say a word aloud slowly, emphasizing the sounds, but avoid “holding your child’s hand” and coaching her through this process. Her skills will develop and she will be proud of her independence and finished product if left to work on her own.
  • Encourage detailed illustrations. The journaling effort is important, and the illustration should match the effort put into writing the words. Also, details in the pictures help a child recall what they wrote when they attempt to read their journal entry.
  • Ask your child to read her journal entry to you as soon after she finishes as possible. Children sometimes have a difficult time remembering and reading their words if a long time passes.
  • Ask your child for permission to lightly write the conventional spelling for words under her inventive spelling as she reads her entry to you. (Showing respect for a child’s ownership of his work, I always asked permission before marking a student’s paper and never had a child refuse.)  Only write the words that would not be deciphered correctly without your guide. Words that are recognizable (even if not spelled conventionally) can be left alone. (My students were always pleased when I needed to write fewer words on their page, as this indicated their improving skills.)

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