These are some of the ideas I’ve used to get my reluctant writers writing. I’ve gathered ideas over a number of years and I can’t remember which were from my head or someone else’s so I apologise in advance if the idea was not mine.
Sometimes I let my children choose from the list and sometimes I give them something specific. I’ve found they each have their preferences e.g. my 13 year old likes to write poetic narrations and would only do those if I let him but sometimes I’ll ask them to choose a different way to narrate what they know.
I’ll add to this list as I come across anything I haven’t listed as I have a few lists tucked away on our computer that I can’t locate at present.
I’ll start with the choices I think are easier for a reluctant writer to begin with. Sometimes the physical act of writing is difficult and discourages writing. I even found this with one of my teenage boys and found that doing a creative form of a narration was helpful. It was still a legitimate way for him to show what he’d learned.
- Draw a diagram with illustrations about what you’ve read – works well for science, geography and history.
- Draw a map of the area you’ve been reading about.
- Draw a picture from a scene in our current Shakespeare play.
- Write an advertisement e.g. to sell a famous building or ship you’ve been learning about or to get people to enlist for the war.
- Write a newspaper article e.g. a front page on the war they’ve been studying about in history. I give them some poetic license with this as long as they include what they’ve actually been reading about.
- Write an obituary about the person studied e.g. Genghis Khan or Captain Cook.
- Write a resume for e.g. Napoleon, Hitler or Pericles.
- Draw or paint the painting you’ve been looking at for Picture Study.
- Write a quiz for dad (you have to know the answers to the questions you ask!) The boys enjoy doing this.
- Write five questions you would like to ask e.g. Albert Einstein or Henry VIII.
- Write a diary entry e.g. a day in the life of Leonardo da Vinci, Beethoven or William Wilberforce.
- Write a poetic narration using the rhythm of e.g. The Destruction of Sennacherib. (Using an online rhyming dictionary is helpful for this)
- Write a description of a bird you’ve observed and draw it from memory.
- Write a letter e.g. You are a sailor on board the Spanish Armada. Write a letter to your mother describing the conditions on board or write a letter from one character to another; you’ve just met e.g. Oliver Cromwell. Write a letter to a friend describing what he is like.
- Write a song about a scene or event from e.g. The Hobbit or The Battle of Hastings. You may use a tune from a well known folksong if you like.
- Write a play (or a scene from a play) based on e.g. a section of Plutarch, Shakespeare or an historical event.
- Write a conversation between e.g. Captain Cook and a member of his crew.
- Compare two historical characters e.g. Stalin and Churchill
- Re-write a poem as prose – an epic or narrative poem e.g. The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes or Lochinvar by Sir Walter Scott.
- Re-write or paraphrase an historical essay or other piece of writing. The Essays by Francis Bacon (1561-1626) work well for high school aged students.
- Our older three children did the SAT exams as part of university preparation & entry and they practiced timed essays using different prompts. They are good practice even if you don’t plan on doing the actual exam. There are many places online that have examples but here are some that I remember using: SAT Writing Prompts