7 Online Resources to Celebrate National Encourage a Young Writer Day

Encourage students to writeIn recognition of National Encourage a Young Writer Day on April 10, we’ve compiled seven online resources to help teachers find writing tips and activities for their young writers.

Some resources offer specific creative writing assignments for kids. Others provide practical suggestions for reading and writing activities to inspire young students.

We’re excited about getting kids to write, and we know you are, too. We encourage you to explore, adopt and modify these tips and techniques for your students.

National Writing Project

This award-winning website offers “30 Ideas for Teaching Writing.” Suggestions range from using email dialogue between students to discuss their impressions of a specific book they’ve read, to practicing revision techniques.

Debbie Rotkow, who contributed idea No. 1, asks first-grade students to use real-life circumstances to write stories or poems. Students write about simple themes, like losing a tooth, or serious subjects like the loss of a family member. These timeless exercises remain useful and relevant in today’s writing classroom.

Great Schools

In an age of curt hashtags and instant messaging, there’s something refreshing about a how-to article loaded with ideas to help parents and teachers inspire students to write.

Robbie Fanning, author of “Seven great ways to encourage kids’ writing,” covers all the bases. She begins with a discussion of coaxing children through writing games — and why that’s not always wise. Fanning’s article offers lots of tips, ideas and themes to help encourage kids to write — from taping playful messages on Frisbees, to using high-gloss photo books to help tell stories.

All Write with Me

In celebration of Encourage a Young Writer Day, Diane Owens offers a virtual playground of articles, tips and Internet links for teachers and parents to help students hone their writing skills.

There’s a lot to read on All Write with Me. We recommend starting with “Writing Tips & Activities.” This section jumps into the craft of storytelling with a lesson on “How to Hook Your Readers.” For teachers looking for fresh writing exercises and ideas, this website does a whale of a job explaining the rules of writing — especially plot, character, and story development.

Reading Rockets

Written for What Works Clearinghouse and the Department of Education, “Teaching Elementary School Students to Be Effective Writers” is a systematic instructional guide for teachers. It’s written by Steven Graham, a professor at Arizona State University’s Teachers College. Graham starts with a discussion of how to avoid common writer’s roadblocks. He offers comprehensive tutorials on how teachers can improve students’ abilities through no-nonsense processes. These range from developing strategic writing outlines to scheduling sufficient in-class writing time.

Two Writing Teachers

This is a good resource for sixth-grade teachers with advanced writers. Tara Smith is one of several teachers responsible for delivering online writing tips and techniques to fellow English teachers on this site. A language arts and social studies teacher, Smith covers a lot of ground in her blog.

Described as a sixth-grade multi-genre project, “Family Stories: A New ‘Mini Unit’” teaches students how to write personal narrative, memoirs, feature articles and poetry. The “Slice of Life Story Challenge” offers step-by-step tips on how to write a blog, while the feedback forum gives other writing instructors a platform to interact.

Journal Buddies

There’s nothing deceptive about the name of this website. As the title implies, it’s all about journaling. Various topics and writing prompts help facilitate lively journal writing.

Website producer and author Jill Schoenberg incorporates a handy numbered list of writing suggestions for kids. The list gives teachers plenty of ideas from which to choose. A sampling of her “49 Story Starters & Writing Ideas for Elementary Kids” ranges from creative writing prompts to inspiring questions. Here are two examples: “If I were a turtle living in a pond, I would…” and “What is your dream vacation?”

Reading Is Fundamental

There’s lots of good stuff here for elementary school teachers searching for comprehensive reading and writing resources. “Encouraging Young Writers” offers several lists of ideas for teachers to incorporate in their preschool and K-6 classrooms.

The article provides eight tips about selecting writing supplies, tables and chairs, tools and books, computer keyboards, and musical instruments. In “Writing Before Reading,” the author offers instructions for teachers to inspire young writers — from incorporating writing props like restaurant menus to cooking up a “yummy alphabet” with pretzel dough.

Our parting words: encourage and practice

On the one hand, storytelling comes naturally to young people — especially preschool and K-6 students with vivid imaginations.

On the other hand, writing is a craft. It requires rules and discipline. As teachers know, rules don’t come naturally to most children. Whether they’re writing short stories from recollection or keeping journals of daily events, young writers should be encouraged to write — often.

Keep these practical tips in mind as you explore ideas and techniques to encourage young writers:

  • Offer advice to come up with ideas, but don’t dictate
  • Find ways to prevent distractions
  • Suggest engaging activities, such as writing a story to a pen pal
  • Vary the writing prompts to include other forms of writing like poems and haikus

Most importantly, as each of these websites makes clear, writers at every age level must practice, practice, practice.