Join the Writing Adventure

Welcome!

This blog is for those who want to bring adventure, magic, and play to children through writing. Whether you are a parent, teacher, or writer yourself, this blog will continually offer writing activities and share connections to support the natural creative side of playful writing exploration.

Photo of Rebecca Olien

Rebecca Olien

I am a teacher and author of both children and adult books. Play to Write is a blog emerging from my successful experiences using a playful approach to teaching.

We all need a reason to write. Children are no different. Teaching children to write is a struggle when we expect them to write for adult reasons with little reality in a child’s world. During my twenty years of teaching, I discovered children at all levels eager to extend their play and pretend to solve problems, share stories, and plan new adventures through writing.
It is my hope to:

  • Share playful writing activities that kids enjoy
  • Gain feedback and comments to expand these activities
  • Engage in discussions about teaching writing.
  • Create a space for others to share Play to Write ideas

Be sure to check out activity posts within the categories to the right.  Adventure, nature, humor, games…. find a writing activity just right for your playful writers!

I look forward to hearing your ideas, stories, and activities to keep writing fun and meaningful for young writers. Keep visiting to make discoveries and share your own playful writing ideas.

Find more playful writing activities at: http://www.pinterest.com/playfulworld/playful-writing/

AND

Pre-K, Kindergarten, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Higher Education, Adult Education - TeachersPayTeachers.com

Categories: Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Dragon Puppet

This is a great activity for Chinese New Year or anytime of year!

What You Need: small paper bags, colored paper scraps, scissors, glue, markers, dragon stories and books

Play!
Read or tell some dragon stories to compare different kinds of dragons. Talk about what kind of dragons and dragons stories they like the best to get children ready to create their puppet.

Dragon puppet

A simple paper bag puppet is all you need for lots of pretend and imaginative tales

Puppets are made by turning the paper bag upside down and using the bottom flap as the puppet’s mouth. Have children practice this before they start so they get the idea of where a tongue, teeth, snout, and eyes might go.

Children cut out colored paper features and use markers to transform the bags into dragons.

As children create their paper bag puppets, be sure to encourage dialogue about their dragon with prompts such as:

  • What does a dragon need to look like a dragon?
  • What is your dragon’s name?
  • What is special about your dragon?
  • Does it have special powers?
  • Can your dragon fly?
  • What is the first thing your dragon is going to say?

Provide plenty of time for children to play together with their puppets. You might need to ask more questions to help children think of stories, rather than just roaring and fighting!

Write About It!

I have found these prompts helpful to get children excited to create and share dragon stories. Once they are finished, they can act these out with their puppets. Explain to the children they will write a story with their dragon as the star.

  • Where does your dragon live? In a cave… on an island… in a castle?dragon
  • Is your dragon scary or does it want to help people?
  • How do people feel about the dragon?
  • Does the dragon cause or solve a problem?
  • What are your dragon’s special powers? Does your dragon breath fire? Does it fly?
  • How does it use its powers to reach its goal?
Categories: Fantasy and Fairy Tales, Holidays | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Life of a Snowball

Let it snow! This is a great time to motivate children to write wintery stories. This one is especially fun as kids imagine themselves as a snowball. During the writing process they will naturally make connections to weather and the water cycle.

What You Need: Snow! It’s not necessary but it really helps make this writing activity come to life.

photo of snowball

My life really changed once I became a snowball…

Play! Discuss the story writing idea about the life of a snowball. Use story building questions to gather ideas. This could be fun to do outside on a snowy day. The children make a snowball for each idea they come up with. There are bound to be lots of ideas when the children return inside to write!

Let’s Write!Use these prompts to get the story rolling!
Beginning: Describe what the conditions were before the snowball. How hard was it snowing? Does the story start in a cloud? What was it like there?
When did the snow turn into a snowball? Who made it? What did it feel like? What was the new snowball feeling and thinking? What does it want to do? Does the snowball talk or make noise? What does it sound like?

Middle: Now let’s add some action! Snowballs don’t just sit there! What was the snowball used for? Was it added to other snowballs to make a snowman, sculpture, fort?
Was it thrown? Where did it land? What happened to it? Was it changed? Did someone else pick it up?
How is the snowball feeling as these things are happening? Is it enjoying it’s life? Does it want something? How will the snowball get what it wants?

End: What happens to the snowball in the end of the story? Does it become something else? Does it melt? If it melts, where does it go?

Present your stories: Take photos of the snowballs to include with your stories. Act out the snowball stories outside with real snowballs.

Categories: adventure writing, Holidays, Humor Writing, Science Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Playful Writing Book Now Available!

Playful Writing Cover image

Writing for fun and discovery!

Find 150 playful writing explorations for young children. Activities include a creative start and uses writing as a natural extension of self-expression, and playful encounters. Prompts and guiding questions keep children writing for real purposes children care about. Each activity includes Early Writer ideas for those emergent learners, as well as Ready Writer activities for those ready for more advanced and complete writing projects.

The playful writing activities are organized into 15 chapters. That include a combination of informational and fictional writing experiences. Take a look!

Playful Writing Link

Categories: adventure writing, Animals/ Nature, Early Childhood, Fantasy and Fairy Tales, Holidays, Humor Writing, Poetry, Science Writing, Talking Points, Writing Games | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turkey Talk!

These delightful puppets make great props for lots of turkey writing fun.

What You Need:
small paper lunch bag, scraps of recycled colored paper, scissors, glue

Directions:turkey puppet image

1.Turn paper bag upside down. Insert your hand to see how the flap works as a mount.
2.Cut out shapes from colored paper for eyes, beak, and wattle. Glue to the bag as shown.
3.Cut out wings and glue to each side.
4.Cut out feather shapes and glue to the back of the puppet.
Let’s Write!
Turkey Interviews: Continue reading
Categories: Animals/ Nature, Early Childhood, Holidays, Humor Writing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Jack Pumpkinhead to the Rescue

L. Frank Baum’s wonderful Oz books have enchanted readers young and old for over a century. One delightful character is Jack Pumpkinhead brought to life by Tip in the second Oz book, The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904). Land of Oz cover In this activity, kids create their own Jack Pumpkinhead and magical story adventure.

There are 8 additional Oz books with Jack Pumpkinhead as a character, including #23 with a book titled with his name.

What You Need
Oz books with Jack Pumpkinhead as a character

Children's Jack Pumpkinhead examples

Jack Pumpkinheads in a row- each a unique creationGive children plenty of time to play with their characters to think up their own marvelous adventures.

Pumpkins, old clothes, and poles
OR
Cardboard scraps, paper, paper fasteners, paint, and brushes

Boy with Jack Pumpkinhead paper model

This Jack Pumpkinhead was made into a Jumping Jack!

Play!
Create a Jack Pumpkinhead character. If using a real pumpkin, create the character as you would a scarecrow using ta carved pumpkin for the head. This is great fun to construct in stages, reading the book The Marvelous Land of Oz along the way for lots of ideas.

If a real pumpkin is too diffiicult for your children to use for construction, create a paper version. I found a big sized model best and the most fun for children to use as they play and pretend Oz adventures.JumpingJack
Children create each body part separately and attach them together with paper fasteners so Jack can move in lots of positions.

For another fun option, attach the limbs to a central string in the back to turn the pumpkinhead figure into a Jumping Jack! Continue reading

Categories: adventure writing, Holidays, Humor Writing | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spooky Shadow Stories for Halloween

Halloween is a perfect time to bring out the flashlights to write and perform spooky stories by flashlight.flashlight

What You Need: 

•Flashlights
•Scraps of cardstock
•Colored plastic
Play!
Using a wall, ceiling, or piece of white cardstock as a screen, hands can be moved in front of the light to make shadow animals and creatures.
Children experiment as they discover how to make their shadows get bigger, smaller, and dance in front of the light.
Shapes cut from cardboard or heavy paper can be used as characters and props to act out Halloween stories and poems. Continue reading
Categories: adventure writing, Holidays, Science Writing | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cartoon Self-Portraits for Back to School

I like to start the year off with cartoon self-portraits. It is a way for kids to put bright big personalized art work on the walls and give themselves some classroom identity, while also having fun with exaggeration. In this activity children also an exaggerated summer vacation story to go with their cartoons.

What You Need: paper grocery bags or other large recycled paper, tempera paint, brushes, cups of water, small handheld mirrors

photo of cartoon face art

Cartoon self-portraits are a fun activity any time or the first week of school!

  Play!

  1. Children look at themselves in the mirrors and choose what features they want to exaggerate in their self-portraits to create cartoon faces.
  2. Draw the outlines of the face and features with pencil on the opened grocery bags.
  3. Go over the pencil lines with black paint. Allow to dry.
  4. Fill in the face features with other colors.
  5. Place finished faces around the room or on a bulletin board.

Write About It! Continue reading

Categories: Humor Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fe Fi Fo Fun! Fairy Tale Rhymes

Using rhymes in fairy tales gives a story a special rhythm. Create fairy tale characters and make up rhymes your  characters might say to make a wish or use to find their way.

Jack and the Beanstalk Fe Fi Fo Rhyme

Jack and the Beanstalk famous Fe Fi Fo Fum Rhyme

What You Need: drawing paper, pencils, pens, fairly tales

Play! Draw and create your own fairy tale characters. Choose your favorite character. Decide how this character might fit into a fairy tale you already know, or make up your own story.

Write About It! Continue reading

Categories: Fantasy and Fairy Tales, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s Up Watermelon?

You know how fun it is to make a Jack-o-Lantern, how about making a watermelon head perfect for summer fun?
What You Need: watermelon, colored paper or cardboard or a collection of other fruit or vegetable piecespaper watermelon head example
Play!
Use imaginations and a group effort to turn the watermelon into a fun creature. Attach colorful paper/cardboard cutout features with toothpicks, draw with non-toxic markers, or add pieces of fruit and vegetables with toothpicks.
Write About It:
Watermelon Head Interview
  1. Write a list of 6 questions for your watermelon friend to answer.
  2. Write out the answers to these questions from the watermelons point of view. Research as needed to find out how the watermelon might answer the question.
  3. Write the questions and answers into a script.
  4. Record or videotape the interview with one student being the interview and another student speaking for the watermelon.
  5. You could also turn your ideas into a picture book with captions describing Watermelon’s most remarkable traits and adventures.
Categories: Animals/ Nature, Humor Writing, Science Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chicken in the Grass

Instead of hangman, this game is just as fun as children try to spell the word before the chicken is created. Drawing and naming shapes, including circle, oval, trapezoid, and triangle are reinforced as an extra bonus!

What You Need: paper & pencils or any other surface and markers: Optional: vocabulary or spelling lists

Play to Write!

This game is played the same way as hangman, except no harm results to the chicken!diagram of game

  1. The leader chooses a word for other players to try and figure out. The correct number of letter spaces are drawn linearly across the page. For instance if the word is “camp”, four spaces are drawn.
  2. The next player, guesses a letter in the word. If the letter is included, it is placed in the correct position, as the “c” placed in the first space.
  3. If the letter is not included, the first shape of the chicken is drawn (the oval body).
  4. Play continues until the word is identified, or the chicken is drawn in the grass.
    game example
Categories: Writing Games | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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