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As writers, we don’t have to be told to sit down and write. It’s what we do and what we enjoy doing. But asking kids to write can be a whole different story, especially during the summer season when school's out. If they don’t have to write, why would they want to?

Actually, there are plenty of reasons. Writing during the summer is a great way for kids to practice their skills without being graded or judged. It’s a chance to write about topics they enjoy and explore their creativity in a leisurely fashion. Writing can also be highly therapeutic for kids; it helps them manage stress and promotes mental well-being. And here’s the best part: getting kids to write during the summer might not be so hard after all.

Try these five writing activities for a fun way to keep your kids thinking, creating, and engaged this summer:

Find a Writing Camp or Class for Kids

Kids love camps, and writing camps are filled with fun projects, social time, and learning. Check with local colleges, community education, writing organizations, or the public library for offerings.

Host Your Own Writing Workshop

Can’t find a camp or class nearby that suits the kids? Why not host your own. Make up writing projects and invite their friends over to join in. Add some snacks, and watch your writing workshop take off.

Journal with Your Kids

Journaling isn’t just fun; it’s a way to express and communicate your feelings. Get your kids to open up via a two-way journal. Start by writing a journal entry individualized to your child. If he likes thunderstorms, write about a thunderstorm memory. Then get your child to respond back.

Fill a Box with Writing Prompts

You’ve probably experienced writer’s block more times than you can count. Sometimes getting kids to write is simply a matter of finding the right topic. Fill a box with writing prompts and have them pick until they find an idea that inspires them.

Take It Outside

Writing indoors can be stifling. Have your kids grab notebooks, pens, and a lounge chair, and head outdoors to write. You can supply the encouragement—and the lemonade.

Don’t think your kids won’t enjoy dabbling in your profession this summer. Give them a fun way to explore their writing talent, and watch them grow and thrive at an art that will serve them well for years to come.

Image by Carissa Rogers

 

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some grain had been partially harvested nearby, so we could walk into the center of the field and take a few photos.

Summer’s here, which means school is out and there are lots of fun things beckoning—barbecues, a trip to the beach, biking with the kids. Who has time to write?

Just because outdoor activities are in full bloom and schedules have gone by the wayside, doesn’t mean you stop writing. Writers write—year round. The trick is to find ways to fit in time to write so you’ll feel productive and stay devoted to your craft without missing out on summer fun.

You may need to be a little creative and flexible, but finding time to write in the summer isn’t all that tough. Here are five ideas that might help.

1. Carry Your Writing Tools Everywhere

You never know when an idea might strike, so always be ready to capture it. Slip a notebook and pen in your purse, or carry your tablet or laptop in a messenger bag when you go out. Even a pencil and scratch paper stuffed in the glove compartment of your car can come in handy for those days when creativity sudden flows. Don’t count on your mind to remember your ideas; be safe, and be prepared.

2. Rise and Shine

Whether you have the birds to thank or the sun, chances are you wake up early during the summer months. It’s not a bad thing actually. Popping out of bed at the crack of dawn can be a great way to start your day, especially if you use the time productively. Grab some coffee and make a beeline to your desk for an hour or two of concentrated writing.

3. Make It a Family Affair

If you have kids at home, include them in your writing routine. Set up a workshop where everyone writes. Pick a topic that's kid-friendly. You’ll get an interesting variety of writing to read, writing practice for all, and a worthwhile use of your time. Include snacks or prizes to make it more fun. Just don’t be surprised if the kids come running back for more.

4. Be a Weekend Warrior

Summer weekdays can be hectic for families with busy summer routines. Your days of writing alone suddenly become filled with carpooling to sports, making lunches, and cleaning up after everyone. That’s where weekends come in handy. Use the time when another parent is available to hit the office. Shut yourself off for several hours and get some quality writing time in.

5. Plan a Writing Vacation

A writing vacation may not be your idea of a summer trip, but you’ll be surprised at how rewarding it can be. Not only will you get to do what you love, you’ll enjoy the break from busy summer schedules to concentrate on just you. There are plenty of writing retreats available during the summer months (check out the ones on this list), or you can create one of your own.

Summer is a time for fun, family, friends—and writing. Give your craft the attention it deserves this summer, and make the season as enjoyable as it is productive.

Image by Nosha

 

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holiday ornamentWith the holidays fast approaching, you might be thinking about writing a holiday story. What’s great about holiday stories is that they aren’t just for kids. Adults love to read stories with a holiday theme, too. But no matter who your target audience, there are a few things to keep in mind when writing a holiday story.

First and foremost, a good story is key. The holiday element matters, of course, but the characters, plot, and writing style matter more. Like any story, a holiday story that doesn’t engage and satisfy the reader—child or adult—won’t be appealing and won’t sell.

Here are some other tips for writing a holiday story:

  • Choose a fresh twist on a holiday theme; overdone holiday stories are just that, overdone.
  • Be respectful of cultural diversity and the many ways people celebrate holidays.
  • Depending on the publication, be cautious about involving religion or overemphasizing it.
  • Aim to uplift, inspire, and entertain the reader, and include humor if possible.
  • For children’s stories, add a creative activity, such as a holiday game, craft, or recipe.
  • Submit a holiday story well in advance of the holiday (check writer’s guidelines for exact deadlines).

Make this season merry and bright, and write a holiday story. Whether you submit it now or next season or just share it with the family, you can’t go wrong. Everyone likes this festive time of year, not to mention a good holiday read.

Image by Domaniqs

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Crosley Contest Banner

If you like contests and you're good at making up words, especially wacky words, you're in luck. I’ve been invited to share information about a fun new contest from the author of the Night Buddies adventure series for kids. Interested word crafters, young and old, can read more about it at the Stories for Children/Family Matters blog. Top Five Winners will receive prizes. Deadline: June 15, 2013.

Check out the contest flyer below:

http://web.mail.comcast.net/service/home/~/Crosley%20contest%20flyer.pdf?auth=co&loc=en_US&id=410040&part=2

Good luck!

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Every once in a while, my kids will ask me to take a look at a paper they're working on for a class. Sure! I'll say, as I eagerly pull out my editing pen and prepare to mark up the pages. But experience has taught me not to get too ambitious with their request. Unlike me, who prefers a thorough, detailed edit, kids are a little more sensitive.

For them, there’s a fine line between editing and overediting—and in fact the latter can do more harm than good. Too much red marking doesn’t just upset kids, it can confuse them, undermine their confidence, and turn them off to writing altogether.

So how can you help a child write a better paper, especially if it needs a lot of work? Should you—as their “editor”—let some mistakes go?

Actually, yes. It’s a good idea to point out errors that kids should know based on their education level. But think twice about those problems of style, grammar, and consistency that come with age and experience. Nit-picking might be okay for a high school senior but not for a ten-year-old. In either case, a paper doesn’t have to be technically perfect to be good.

Instead, concentrate on the bigger issues. Does the paper do what it’s supposed to do, like answer a question or present an argument? Is it organized, with an introduction, body, and conclusion? Are the style and format appropriate? Does the paper meet the length requirements? Be sure to point out the paper’s strengths, too. Knowing what they’re doing right can make all the difference to developing young writers.

Finally, stress the importance of revision. Even professionals rarely finish a piece without going over it multiple times and making changes. Revision is an essential step to good writing. And the earlier that truth is learned, the better.

(Image by Janos Feher)