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.
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
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.
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!
Super Hero to the Rescue!
Think of the superheroes you know from comics, movies, and television. If you think they are fun to watch, they are even more fun to create!
What You Need: large sheet of butcher paper or cardboard, poster paints, paintbrush
- Draw a large outline of a super hero on your paper or cardboard. You can draw it freehand or find an adult to trace around.
- Use paint to add details.
Write About It!
- Describe what your super hero looks like.
- Write about your super hero’s special powers. Is your hero extra smart, extra strong, or have other special powers
- How did your super hero get to be so super? Write about the first time your hero discovered he or she had special powers?
- Uh, oh. Someone needs to be saved. Describe a problem in need of a super solution.
- How does your superhero use special powers to save the day?
Here is a quick and simple writing activity perfect for a windy day. Watching words fly in the wind sure beats the old worksheet, doesn’t it? Even better, this activity uses recycled and found materials.
What You Need: Sticks, newspaper, markers, glue, scissors
Writing in Motion
- Collect sticks about a foot long.
- Cut newspaper into half-inch strips.
- Use markers to write on the strips.
- Glue strips to the top half of the wand.
Write About It!
The magic involves writing on the strips and watching the words flutter and spin in the wind.
Here are some ideas:
- Young children use the paper strips to write “w” words and letters.
- Fill strips with words that describe the wind.
- Write windy tongue twisters similar to the title of this activity!
- Write wonder-why questions on the strips. (I wonder why the wind blows? I wonder where the wind goes?)
- Turn each strip into a line for a poem that can be read anyway the wind flutters.
Magical wands add sparkle to play and writing.
Make a magic wand for lots of swishing magical pretend. Use a stick with any type of star attached to the end for a traditional fairy tale wand. Don’t forget to glue lots of glitter to make a sparkle.
Now that you have a wand, what kind of magic do you want to make? Play and pretend then write your magic wand stories to share. Read more
Writing Jump Start Podcast
Welcome to the first edition of Writing Jump Starts, a podcast on teaching writing. I’m Rebecca Olien the creator and moderator. As a teacher and author of over fifty books for children and educators, I have picked up a few tips and insights along the way I’d like to share. I hope you enjoy listening!
Episode 1: Motivation
What does it take to motivate children to want to write? Listen to this podcast for motivation tips for teaching writing that just may jump start your own writing.
Stay Tuned for Future Episodes…
- Writing and Technology
- Global Connections
- Kids Find Their Voice
- Writing for Making a Point
- Fun Collaborative Writing Projects
- Painless Editing and Revision
- How to Motivate Kids and Meet the Common Core Writing Standards
This play to write activity is out of this world!
Play! Create the setting, characters, and rocket for playing out a space adventure.
astronaut: a clothespin, markers, plastic spray bottle top, foil, pipe cleaner
rocket: cylinder can or tube, construction paper, cardboard
space creature: clay or any other materials you choose!
Make an astronaut:
- draw a face on the round top
- wrap a pipe cleaner around the clothespin for arms
- dress the clothespin in a foil spacesuit
- add a plastic top for a helmet
Make a Spaceship: Glue construction paper around a potato chip can or cardboard tube. Add a paper cone top and cardboard fins. Tape a paper cone to the top. Tip: If you want a spaceship that is more sturdy, use a cylinder can like the kind potato chips come in. This makes a good secure place for your astronaut to travel in too!
Make a Space Creature: Space creatures can be made anyway you like. It is up to your imagination! The one in the photo is clay, but you might want to make one that can fit inside the spaceship in case they want to travel together in your story.
Write About It! Read more
Professor Stephen Heppell at Bournemouth University on the importance of playful learning at school and at home.
How do you feel about playful learning? Any suggestions, ideas, or insights of your own?
Saying tongue twisters is sure to make kids laugh. Writing and sharing them with friends is even more fun.
What You Need: drawing paper & pencils
Play to Write!
To get started write a sentence using as many words as possible beginning with the same letter.
Here are some examples.
Arrange the words into a pleasing order. It is fun when the words go together to make a silly situation.
Read your sentences quickly five times in a row. Did any tangle your tongue? If so, you just made a tongue twister!
Illustrate your best tongue twister and staple the pages together into a book to share with friends and family.
Riddles are fun to write and create, especially animal riddles for Valentine’s Day.
What You Need: scrap paper, glue, scissors, thesaurus (print or online- not essential))
A valentine dear to the heart!
Play! 1. Cut out lots of different sizes, shapes, and colors of hearts.
2. Arrange hearts into animal shapes and glue onto a white piece of paper.
3. Next, write your riddle or riddle poem (see Write About It) and place on the paper next to your Valentine animal.
4. You can also make these into clever cards. Put the riddle on the outside and open the card to find the Valentine animal inside.
Write About It! Read more
It that time again! Time for groundhogs to shine in the spotlight!
What You Need: cardboard scraps, scissors, flashlight or lamp
Cartoon groundhog puppets add to the fun
1. Draw an outline of a groundhog on a stiff piece of cardboard. This can be a cartoon version like the example. It is fun to have the arms, ears, and tail stick out to create more interesting shadows.
2. Cut out the animal. Use a paper punch to make holes for the eyes. Cut out the mouth if desired.
3. Tape the groundhog to a pencil (eraser side down to avoid pokes).
4. Play together to hold the flashlight and move the groundhog next to a wall or door in a darkened room in order to see the shadow.
5. Hold and move the groundhog at different angles and distances from the light to discover how the shadow grow and changes. Move the flashlight as well to see how this changes the shadow.
6. Play and pretend with the groundhog as a character. Act out the groundhog getting ready for Groundhog Day.
Write About It!
What can happen when a silly groundhog puppet see’s it shadow? Kids will come up with lots of ideas when playing with their shadow puppets. Perhaps the groundhog is afraid of its own shadow, or thinks a bigger dark groundhog is following him. Maybe the groundhog decides to come up with a plan to make sure he does or doesn’t see his shadow on the big day. These fun observations and playful encounters create great Groundhog Day stories.
Categories: Animals/ Nature, Holidays, Humor Writing, Science Writing
Tags: animal activity, animal puppets, animal stories, animal writing activity, groundhog day activity, groundhog's day activity, kids humor writing, shadow activity, shadow puppets
Children help make homemade crayons to create colorful rainbow writing. Submitted by guest blogger and teacher- Cristina Luther
What You Need: old wax crayons, muffin pans
Remove paper from colors and place in muffin tin cups
For this activity, I had four children, ages three and under, from my daycare participate. Each child helped me locate broken crayons in our drawing drawer. While preheating the oven to 300 degrees, I removed the paper from the crayon chunks.
Crayons melted in warm oven
The chunks were placed in the cups of an old muffin tin. Each cup was filled about half way. I had the children arrange the chunks in any way they wished. Prior to placing the tin in the oven, I turn the heat completely off. The tin was put in the oven and left in until the oven had almost completely cooled. After letting the tin cool off on the counter for 20 minutes, we moved the pans to the refrigerator.
Remove cooled crayons
After another 20 minutes, the wax had hardened enough for the crayons to be removed. Each child immediately took the crayons they had created and began doodling on their papers.
Let the rainbow writing begin!
Play to Write! The children absolutely loved that they could make their own crayons. They enjoyed finding the broken crayons in the drawer and sorting them while I removed the papers. Each child chose which colors they liked most. Their favorite part of the activity was getting to actually use their creation. They did not quite understand that they would be making something that they could actually use until I handed them their papers and asked them to draw. Because of the laughs and giggles this activity was responsible for, I plan on doing it again soon!