Encouraging writing over the summer holidays is no easy task but there are subtle ways to try and slip in a little extra practise without it being boring or too obvious. The children are on holiday so we don’t want to be devising a full lesson plan! Like us they need a break so just gather a few ideas suitable for a quiet day at home or holiday travel. The trick is a little at a time and keeping it as varied as possible.
A holiday journal is a good way to help children focus on what is happening around them and learn how to put their observations into writing. This journal isn’t just about filling the pages with endless sentences though; it’s about the children collecting together their thoughts, memorabilia, opinions, photos, drawings, likes and dislikes. It’s a memory keeper of a moment in your child’s life, through their own eyes. They could use it to record highlights from their school holidays or as a day to day update on a special holiday away. Gently encourage them to add to it most days but give them free reign to complete it with as much or as little as they wish to avoid it becoming a chore.
You could buy a small journal for this purpose but they are far more likely to want to put something in it if you let them make one themselves. A homemade journal somehow feels more precious so making the inside look as good as the outside becomes just as important. For ideas on what to include I’ve designed some simple writing prompts to insert in the journal too.
For ours we used cut outs from old comics, cereal box card for the covers, 20 sheets of white A4 paper for the pages inside and coloured elastic to bind.
Step 1: Fold the 20 sheets of white A4 paper individually in half and pile one on top of the other.
Step 2: Cut out two oblong shapes from the cereal boxes approx. 22×15.5cm each.
Step 3: Stick the paper and decorations on with glue and wait to dry.
Step 4: Print this writing prompts page out and stick it inside the front cover of your holiday journal.
Step 5: Place the front cover decorated side up and the back cover decorated side down.
Step 6: Punch equally spaced holes down the left side of the front and back covers.
Step 7: Punch the same sequence of holes down the fold side of each A4 sheet.
Step 8: Collate your journal covers and pages by lining up the holes on each side.
Step 9: Thread short pieces of coloured elastic through the corresponding holes and tie in a double knot or bow.
Step 10: Repeat until all holes are securely tied and cut any loose threads.
For our penguin journal we stuck on scraps of tissue paper in a decoupage style with free penguin picture downloads. Lovingly made by my youngest who wouldn’t let me trim the edges as it’s all part of the look apparently!
To make the animal themed journal we simply covered it with zebra striped paper.
So simple but effective and relatively quick.
Other ways to encourage writing over the summer holidays are sending postcards to friends, cousins or grandparents. One sentence is enough for each card to describe their exciting holiday adventures.
Last week I reviewed some activity books which are also a fantastic way of getting children to write a little and have fun at the same time. It can be anything from filling in a crossword, adding a speech bubble to completing missing information or describing a superhero. If they are enjoying the challenges illustrated in the activity book they won’t even notice they are writing!
We might want to limit the use of the many electronic devices over the holidays, but don’t forget that keeping in touch with friends by email can also contribute to maintaining their writing skills. It may not physically involve writing but sending an email still helps comprehension and sentence structure to a certain degree.
If you like this, you may want to try some of my other fun writing prompts too.