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Kids and writing
In the classroom there are many ways of using these writing activities to help children practise their English whilst developing their creativity and imagination. Here are some examples.
1. Write a story
Before writing, ask learners to tell you about stories they've already read. Who are the main characters? What are their names? Where do they live? What are they like? What problems or challenges do they meet? What happens to them in the end? Have a look at some real books with visually appealing covers and illustrations, if available, to stimulate interest and language output. Alternatively, try an animated short story from LearnEnglish Kids: https://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/en/short-stories
Choose a genre and/or a topic. Alternatively, give them the first or last sentence of the story, for example: ‘And they never forgot their homework again.’ Then ask your learners to work in pairs and plan their story by answering the above questions. Monitor and help as necessary. When learners are ready, they can write their stories, working individually but helping each other as they go along.
If your learners need more support, the Story maker on LearnEnglish Kids helps learners generate fairy, horror and science fiction stories:
Use the questions in the Story maker to brainstorm vocabulary and draw on your learners’ preferences, for example, ‘What's your favourite musical instrument?’, ‘Who do you like being with?’ or ‘What are the scariest animals or creatures?’ You could even make the questions into a class survey.
As a class, now create a story with the Story maker. If possible, learners then work in pairs and create their own. If you only have the class computer, print in advance an example story of each genre and cover up the options before photocopying to make a template.
When your learners have finished, they can share their stories with their classmates. You could then ask your learners to compare their stories and comment on the differences in the versions.
Additionally, your learners could illustrate their stories or create storyboards for each part. Encourage them to talk simply about their pictures, prompting and interacting with them as necessary. Your learners might also like to act out their stories for each other. More advanced learners could create the dialogue as they perform their parts; other learners could simply narrate their stories.
As further extension activities, you could ask your learners to come up with new options for the questions in the Story maker, or to write questions and options for different story genres. For more advanced learners, you could use the final versions of the stories in the Story maker as the stimulus for freer writing practice. For example, they could create different endings for their stories or write an email to one of their characters.
2. Write a leaflet
Generate interest and ideas by showing your learners some examples of leaflets for places in their country or the UK (you can find these on the internet). Ask the learners if they would be interested in visiting the places, and why. Ask them which leaflet they like best. Identify some of the basic features of this genre: lots of pictures, colourful, location map, contact/opening times, positive language (the best, amazing, wonderful, etc.), list of things to do/see at the place, etc.
Explain that they are going to write their own leaflet. Brainstorm some ideas of places – they could write a leaflet for visiting their school, a local attraction, their town, their house, the moon – encourage their imagination! Choose a simple idea and ‘plan out’ the leaflet together on the board – draw boxes where they want pictures to go, write key words for where they want information to go, e.g. write ‘contact’ where they want contact information to go, write ‘eating’ where they want information about food and drinks available at their place, etc.
Now learners choose a place of their own. Get them to ‘plan out’ their leaflet in their notebooks. Then provide paper for learners to make the leaflet. Monitor and help where necessary.
When learners have finished, display the leaflets around the room. Encourage learners to walk around and look at the leaflets. Then get learners to tell you which places they’d like to visit and why.
3. Make a greetings card
Ask your learners when they send cards, i.e. for what special occasions, and who to. Write some ideas on the board. Now brainstorm some messages and greetings that they might write on the front of and inside a card on these occasions. Ask them if there are any special occasions coming up amongst their friends or family, e.g. a birthday, an anniversary, a name day or perhaps a national holiday, which they could make a card for. If not, they could make a ‘thank you’ card for someone – perhaps the teacher!
Give each learner two pieces of white paper, a bit smaller than A5. One is for them to draw a picture and a greeting for the front of the card (e.g. ‘Happy Birthday!’ and a cake) and one is to go inside the card with a message. Once the learners have done that, give them a choice of coloured A4 card, which they should fold in half, then stick the front and inside pieces of paper on the card.
Don’t forget to emphasise the cards should really be given to who they were written for! If any learner made you a ‘thank you’ card, display it in the room.
If your learners need more support, or are not keen on drawing, try the ‘Birthday card’ craft activity on LearnEnglish Kids. Learners can cut out and stick the designs they like, with the ‘Happy birthday’ greeting. They can write a longer message inside the card, or simply their name if necessary.
4. Other writing genres
In the Writing practice section on LearnEnglish Kids, you will find example texts and materials to help learners write their own version for a variety of genres, such as a fact file, a book review or a restaurant menu. Learners match vocabulary from the text, read the text and do a comprehension activity, find 'top tips' for writing in that genre, then finally write their own on the template provided.
Freer personal writing
The LearnEnglish Kids website is also a great place for learners to be able to express their own personal opinions in writing. Kids who are registered members can write comments on the games, songs, stories and other activities, as well as write longer passages about various topics on our ‘Your turn’ pages.
How does it work?
First learners need to become members. Any child aged 12 and under can become a member of LearnEnglish Kids. Click on ‘Sign up’ in the top left of the homepage. Encourage your learners to join at home with the help of their parents, as all children should get permission from parents before joining, and so that parents are involved in the process. Once they have an account and are logged in, they can write a comment on almost any LearnEnglish Kids page. Usually within 24 hours, each comment is read by a moderator, who checks that the comment is in English, that it is on the topic of the page and that it doesn’t break the house rules. Then the comment is published.
Writing a short comment
Choose a song or story that is related to a topic you have covered in class recently.
There is a 'Discussion' box under the song or story containing questions designed to prompt a response from learners. Write each question on a large sheet of paper and stick these on the walls around the classroom before the start of the class. You can adapt and/or add to the questions depending on your learners’ level and age.
Now do the song or story with your learners. Afterwards, your learners could do the printable worksheet, downloadable under each song or story.
Learners then walk around the classroom and write their answers to each question on the paper. Demonstrate the activity first by moving from paper to paper and asking them what you could write. Give them a time limit to keep this activity lively – the focus should be on producing ideas rather than accuracy. When learners have finished, give out one or two of the written-on sheets to pairs or small groups. Ask each group to read the answers on their sheet and give some feedback to the class. This could be just reading the question and one of the answers, or a higher level could summarise the information.
Now show your learners some comments posted by other members under the song or story. How similar or different are these to their answers?
Tell learners that their homework is going to be to post a comment on the song or story, but they will prepare the comment in class. Encourage learners to choose one or more of the prompts in the discussion box to respond to, then they work individually to write their comment in their notebook. Set a time limit of four minutes, and give lots of help and remind learners that their comments don’t need to be perfect or error-free to be published. At home, learners then log in and post their comments!
Check the site after a couple of days to see learners’ written work live on LearnEnglish Kids!
Writing longer comments
Choose a topic from our ‘Your turn’ section that is related to a topic you have covered in class recently, or you could choose a selection and then have a class vote on which one to use.
Write the prompt questions for the ‘Your turn’ you choose on the board. You can adapt and/or add to the questions depending on your learners’ level and age. Talk about the questions with your learners and ask them to volunteer some answers. Help with any language they need. At this point, you might like to have the learners do a class survey with the questions.
Now show your learners some comments posted by other members on the page. Ask your learners for a personal response. They could simply say whether or not they liked what they read or whether they agree with the writer.
Tell learners that their homework is going to be to post a comment on the ‘Your turn’ page, but they will prepare the comment in class. As with writing shorter comments, encourage learners to choose several of the prompts to respond to, then they work individually to write their comment in their notebook. Set a time limit of seven minutes, and give lots of help and remind learners that their comments don’t need to be perfect or error-free to be published. At home, learners then log in and post their comments!
Check the site after a couple of days to see learners’ written work live on LearnEnglish Kids!
When you have used some of these ideas, why not come back to this page and leave a comment below to tell us how your class went. Let us know if you have any additional ideas!