Monthly Archives: January 2012

Funny Flip Books

Create a funny flip book to make silly creatures doing amazing things. Writing alliterations (words that begin with the same letter) adds fun to match-up writing.

flip book example

Funny Flip Book Example Pages

Flip Book Directions:

1. Fold 3 sheets of plain paper together and staple them together along the folded edge to make a book.

2. Draw 2 lines separating the page into three equal sections.

3. Cut through all the pages up to the stapled edge.

4. Draw animals or  other silly creatures on each page. Place their head in the top sections, bodies in the middle, and draw legs in the bottom of each page. Be sure to include the creatures doing something with their feet, hands, or paws.

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

Mystery Creatures

Early explorers returned from adventures at sea with descriptions of monster-like creatures. Often these accounts were inaccurate because only a part of the animal was seen and the rest imagined. What kind of creature might you imagine if you thought a whale’s tail, a shark’s fin, and a squid’s tentacles all belonged to the same animal?! Whale Tail Photo

This game is for a group of 3 to 4 players. You will pretend to be members of a crew. Each crew member will write a description of a creature from one tiny peek, then see what kind of creature is imagined by the descriptions.

Get Ready
Get help from someone who is not playing the game. Three toy animals are placed in small paper bags. The same number of dime-sized holes  are cut from different places around the bag as there are players.
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Stick People Adventure

Create fun stick people (or creature) figures and take them on some incredible adventures. What happens when these tiny characters meet find a stapler, a flashlight or your cat! What happens if you take them outdoors?

Draw, color, and cutout characters on index cards and glue them to craft sticks. Add fun details with colored paper, feathers, pipe cleaners or anything else you like. Leave some of the stick poking from the bottom so you can stick the character in a small glob of clay or in the ground so they stand up and you have your hands free to write their tales of adventure!Stick people photo

Write About It!

Start the Adventure
Decide who your main character will be. Tell the story through this character’s eyes. Find a place to begin your adventure. What does this character need or want to do? Give the character a reason to go on an adventure. Maybe your character is looking is trying to make a new discovery, find a new land, or save a kingdom.

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

Word Square Wonders

In this clever word game 2-3 players create their own game board from letter tiles, then take turns making as many words as possible.
5 by 5 grid (1 inch graph paper works well or make a table grid on a word processing program five rows and five columns
Letter tiles- include three of each consonant letter and four of each vowel
Container for letters
Score sheet with columns for words and points for each player (see example)
1. Players take turns drawing a letter tile and placing it on the game grid. (Letters can also be printed on the board if this is easier visually)
2. Letters continue to be drawn and placed in the squares until the 25 boxes are filled in.
3. If a word is created by adding a letter, than the player who added the letter earns points for the word (1 point for each letter).

See the examples below to view a sample game.
Example 1                              Example 2                            Example 3

4. The game can end here by totaling the word points for each play OR continue play by taking turns finding words with any adjacent letters in any pattern. Word letter counts are added to the score for each new word created.

Example 4

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Spy Gadget Adventure

Write a spy mystery full of thrills, danger, and clever escapes. How does your character get out of trouble? With a spy gadget, of course!
Play! Collect cardboard tubes, pipe cleaners, string, cardboard, wires,  markers, glue, or anything else you want to use to make your gadget. Construct the tool so it has movable parts with paper fasteners or bendable wires. What does it do? Your imagination is the only limit. Have fun playing spy games to get lots of ideas for your story. spy gadget model

Write About It!
Story Starter:
Describe your main character. How long has this character been a spy? What is the problem that the spy needs to help solving? What secret information does the spy need? How does the spy feel about the mission? What steps does the spy have to take to complete the mission?

Secret Dangers: What dangers does the spy face during the mission? Who is after the spy? How does the spy get the spy gadget? Does someone give it to the spy or does the spy invent it? Increase the suspense by making the mission more and more difficult and dangerous. How does the spy get past guards, pursuers, alarms, or crack codes necessary to get the important information. How does the spy gadget help?

Mission Accomplished: Who does the spy give the information to? How has this help save people and solve the problem shared in the beginning of your story? Prepare the spy for the next adventure!

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Amazing Ambitious Animal Alphabet

A word game where players describe an animal that begins with each letter of the alphabet. The animal is named and described with a word beginning with the same initial letter.  Descriptive words much match characteristics of each animal named.

Players are awarded points for both animal and descriptive words.

ambitous ant, busy bee, calm clam examples

Add a time limit to make the game more challenging and exciting.

Encourage three or more word links such as: bright buzzing busy bees

Work in teams for a fun collaborative word game.

Change the topic to make the game more or less challenging. (Less challenging= anything found in nature, More challenging=ocean animals)

Tip: Have players list the alphabet vertically on a page before play begins.

Categories: Animals/ Nature, Writing Games | Leave a comment

Pyramid Adventure

Pyramid Adventure

Play! Build a cardboard pyramid by cutting 4 triangles the same size and taping them together. To give your pyramid a sandy look of stone, glue sandpaper to each cardboard triangle. Decorate the pyramid with hieroglyphics. Add clay figures, a tomb, treasure, as secret writing inside the pyramid.pyramid model

Here is a link to pyramids made by children to get you started.

Explore hieroglyphics

Write About It!
Write a story about an explorer discovering the pyramid.

Start the Adventure: Describe the main character. What is this person’s reason for wanting to find a pyramid, or does he/she stumble on it by mistake?

Add Suspense and Challenges: What dangers, puzzles, or other challenges does the explorer overcome to find the pyramid? What happens when the pyramid is found? What does the explorer hear, see, feel?  Are there any trap doors, codes, or tricks to entering the pyramid? What happens when the explorer goes inside the pyramid? What do the hieroglyphics mean? How does the explorer crack the code? Is there anyone who does not want the explorer to be snooping around? What danger might the explorer be in? What does the explorer do to get out of trouble?

Ending the Story: How does your story end? How does discovering the pyramid change the main character? What will the explorer do with the new knowledge or treasures?

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Criss-Cross Rhinoceros

What you Need:

Grid paper large enough to easily write letters and see words on the page.

2- 4 players

Criss-Cross Rhinoceros Game Board

Example Game

How to Play!

1.Write the word “RHINOCEROS” in the center of the graph paper across or vertically.
2. Players take turns writing words as in an acrostic poem, using a letter from rhinoceros.
3. Words can also be included in the other words.
4. Play stops when no other words can be made.
5. The player with the most letters placed on the grid is the winner.

Have children play with a partner to decide what word to place on the game sheet.
Allow dictionaries to help support correct spelling.
Change the beginning word to fit a special interest or topic.
Add double points for words that go with the theme (for this game, animal words)
Allow challenges. If a word is challenged and misspelled, a turn is missed.

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Join the Writing Adventure


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:


Pre-K, Kindergarten, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Higher Education, Adult Education -

Categories: Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Treasure Maps!

Searching for treasure makes a great adventure!

Try this first playful writing adventure with children you know. I am sure you will have as much fun as they do watching the creative adventures unfold. Let us know how it goes! Share a map. Share a story.

Play! Create a treasure map (a brown paper bag makes a great map surface- after drawing the map in can be crinkled to look like the real thing). Here are some directions to get started:Kids Treasure Map

  1. Choose a the treasure. Is it money, gold, a recipe for a magic potion, or a batch of chocolate cookies? Draw an X on the map to mark the spot.
  2. Draw about 5 landmarks on the map that add a challenging path for anyone who follows the map to the treasure. They can be natural features such as forests, caves, quicksand, rivers, or deserts. They could also be structures such as castles, tunnels, bridges, and towers.
  3. Give each landmark a fun name and make a map key to help those questing treasure find their way.
  4. Draw a path that winds through each of the places drawn on the map that ends at the treasure.

Write About It! Bring the map to life by writing a fantastic treasure hunting story. Here are some steps and questions to encourage young authors to take off on their own.
Who will be the treasure seeker in your story? This person makes a great main character. Write about why it is important for this character to get to the treasure. Does he or she want it for a good reason or for a greedy reason?

Write about the adventures the character has at each landmark on your map. Describe what the character sees, hears, and feels. Is this place dangerous? What problem does the character need to solve to move to the next location?

Add danger or challenges the character needs to overcome at each location. You might want to make the journey more and more difficult as the character gets closer to the treasure. What other characters does the main character meet along the way? Do they help or get in the way of the treasure seeker’s quest?

Finish the story by finding the treasure. What does the treasure look like? How does the character feel when the treasure is found? What will the character do with the treasure now that it is found?

Categories: adventure writing | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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