Let me start by saying that I do not advocate teaching young children composition skills. Teaching young children how to write often has nothing to do with writing per se, but it has more to do with their enthusiasm for reading and narrating. So, as I talk about writing activities, I am talking about how to teach writing skills to older kids, preferably ages 12 and up. With four kids–two grown and two teens–I’ve tried a lot of different curriculum, community classes, real life projects, and free offerings. Some were great, some not so much. What made the difference was how much the writing activities inspired my teens. Inspiration and relevance are key.
Hunting for the right program
While I still have some of the materials I used with my older two, things have changed. For example, the community classes that my oldest took are no longer an option for a variety of reasons. Some of the curriculum I used at that time is now outdated because I bought CDs. But, I no longer own computers that accept CDs. Some programs were consumable. You get the picture. In homeschooling, the old adage that you can reuse curriculum for all of your kids isn’t always true. So, I felt it was time to look for something new.
Now, we do unschool, so you might think, Why are you looking for curriculum? Well, writing is an essential skill and writing well opens all sorts of doors, not just college doors. Creative writing especially affects many areas of life. Writing is also a state graduation requirement. So, I do collaborate with my teens on how we are going to tackle this. And, because of my educational philosophy, writing activities have to meet certain parameters. That’s why I face challenges. I won’t just use what everyone else is using. Remember, I said it had to inspire and be relevant.
So, in my hunt, I found writing activities that meet my high standards. Enter Bardsy Homeschool.
Fun Writing Activities That Inspire & Teach
Never run out of ideas
One of the biggest hurdles in writing is staring at a blank page with no ideas coming to mind. Bardsy Homeschool offers a fun solution to this common problem. They call it the Story Spinner. At the click of a button, it will offer up a character, a world, and a theme to get the juices flowing. Don’t like what came up? Just spin it again. When it offers something you like, just click Start Story, come up with a working title, and start writing.
Want to stop writing that one for a while and start something new? Bardsy automatically saves your work under My Stuff so you can see all your works in progress. My son really liked this feature because he likes to have lots of projects going at once. He sometimes gets tired of a story and gets a new idea. Bardsy keeps all his work in one place and helps him make progress through their unique Artificial Intelligence feature, Prospero.
And when you get stuck…
Inevitably, my son gets stuck. He pours all his ideas out on the page, which includes a few character descriptions and some conflicts and plot twists. But then, the well of ideas runs dry and he doesn’t know what to do. Without some help, he would never finish those stories. Enter Prospero. Prospero is unlike any other writing activities I have ever seen. At any point in writing a story, you can click in the upper left hand corner where you’ll find Prospero. Then, you can select the sheets you want to use to help you develop your story.
The more thoroughly you complete the sheets, the more Prospero helps you. This is because it takes your answers and practically writes the story for you! Super cool. This was my son’s favorite feature, watching Prospero do its magic. He learned a lot about story construction by using Prospero. You can get a sample of these sheets from Bardsy Homeschool for FREE. Click the button to grab yours.
Writing activities and flexible lessons
While my son loved using Prospero, my daughter liked the video lessons and colorful, relevant teaching method found under the Learn tab. She liked the fact that she got an opportunity to brainstorm using provided prompts. She also enjoyed critiquing famous works and applying those lessons to her own work. What I liked about this section is that it used a variety of teaching methods, not just video and not just worksheets, and most importantly, used great works. In addition, the lessons were developed by real, published, award-winning professional writers. I have to say, a pet peeve of mine are writing programs written by people who are not professional writers! After all, who knows better about good writing than a published author?
Publish your work!
To top it all off, teens can submit their work to an anthology, join a writing circle, or send their story to a friend right from Bardsy Homeschool! Very few writing programs offer this real world, relevant experience. This allows a teen to get feedback from peers and even real writers. Such feedback is invaluable in inspiring and encouraging teens to become better writers. Check it out and make sure to grab your FREE lesson!