3 Fun Ways to Charge Up Your Student Writers

Need to charge up your students?  Here are three quick fun writing activities you can use to engage them at any time.  They are great when:

  • there are 20 minutes before the assembly starts
  • one class gets ahead of another – and you need a “holding” lesson until you can get your classes aligned
  • students are super-squirrelly, but still need to work
  • your class is stagnant and everyone needs a boost (including you!)
  • you want to introduce a new writing unit

1. Pass-back Stories

If you haven’t taught them, here is how they work:

  1. Every student has a blank piece of paper and pen.
  2. The teacher provides the story starter.  It can be something like, “Suddenly, the lights went out,” or “Our camping trip was going great until,” or “I knew it was a bad idea to…”
  3. The students write the story starter at the top of the page and then start writing the story.
  4. The teacher sets the timer (2 minutes or so); when the timer goes off, the students must pass their paper back to the person behind them.  The last person in the row, runs her paper up to the first person.  Students must stop writing when the teacher calls time — even if they are in the middle of a sentence!
  5. Continue with each student down the row adding to the story.
  6. After a few rounds, students will end up with their own paper again.  They then need to write a conclusion to their story.

Reasons to love this little lesson:

  • It’s fast and fun
  • Students love reading and adding to each other’s stories
  • Students are practicing spontaneous writing – their imaginations are firing!
  • Reinforces writing skills – students know their story needs to have a beginning, middle, and end.

Adjustments you might want to make:

  • Rearrange your classroom into even rows.
  • Set some rules and restrictions.  For example, you may want to stipulate that no real people can be mentioned in the story, or that it must be rated G.
  • Once students get the idea, you can have “challenge” items in each round.  For example, students have to include a groundhog, or must use the word “confetti.”  I announce this right before setting the timer.
  • Play with the time limit.  The time limit makes it exciting.  Try not too give them too much time; you want them to finish writing in the middle of an idea — that creates a challenge for the next writer!
  • Collect all the stories at the end of the class.  Read a few of the best to the class the next day — or allow students to read their stories in small groups.  I like to collect and read to sort out any stories that might have pushed boundaries or forgotten the rules!

Once your students do this, they will beg you to write pass-back stories, but I wouldn’t recommend using them more that a few times.  That keeps them fresh and exciting!

3 Fun Ways to Charge Up Your Student Writers

2.  Guess-who Character Cards

If you haven’t taught it, here’s how it works:

  1. Provide each students with a picture of someone they are not familiar with.  It could be a picture from an ad, a “Guess Who” game card, or a photo you find online.  The important thing is that students don’t know the person.
  2. Have students write a quick description of the person.  Encourage them to create as clear a detailed description as possible.
  3. Collect descriptions, post pictures around the room, redistribute descriptions and challenge students to match the picture with the description.

Reasons to love this little lesson:

  • challenges students to look at details in a photo.  (If you need more descriptive writing activities, you might be interested in this post.)
  • fun and fast — students love matching the description with the photo
  • writing with a purpose – students know their descriptions must be accurate and specific

Adjustments you may want to make:

  • If you teach more than one section, swap descriptions so students need to read and match pictures and descriptions from a completely different class.
  • Allow students to work with a partner

3.  Guess-who Characters — with a twist!

How it works:

  1. Follow the directions for the Guess-who character description above except instead of writing a description of the character, students write dialogue the character has.

Reasons to love this little lesson:

Adjustments you may want to make:

  • Allow students to work together with two different pictures.  The characters in the pictures might be having a conversation, argument, or debate.
  • Extend the lesson into a full scene that involves the character.
  • Challenge students to write a backstory about the character.

Need a ready-to-go creative writing activity for your students?  Check out the scary story writing activity in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  It take students through the entire writing process.  Digital or print options.Creative Writing notebook

So…how do you get your students’ creative energy flowing?  Let us know in the comments below!

With gratitude,

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