How to Use Your Child’s Dreams to Develop Their Creative Writing Skills

creative writing for kids

Dreams are a rich source of creative writing for kids. Dreams are often filled with unique ideas, adventures and experiences that rarely or never occur in the real world. Here are some ways parents can help children put their dreams onto paper!

Ask good questions. Talk to your child about their dreams and let them know that you’re there to listen and support their imagination. When your child describes the story in their dreams, ask them about their feelings, about the colours of the sky and landscape, and about exactly how events played out to jog their memory and encourage detailed description.

Practise the ‘show, don’t tell’ rule.  ‘Show, don’t tell’ is a great creative writing rule to follow, and encourages children to use active verbs to show what’s happening in their story rather than simply reporting the facts. You can get your child to start off by writing a play-by-play recount of their dream. Then get them to rewrite their story in a way that shows the same information. For example, ‘The dinosaur was scared’ could become, ‘the dinosaur trembled and ran away to hide’.

Create a story board. A story board is a series of pictures that tell a story. It resembles a comic strip and can be a fun way for your child to plan and visualise how they will tell their story. Often our recollection of dreams becomes lost after waking up. Story boards are a great way to help your child evoke imagery from their dreams or create new ones.

Help your child keep a dream journal. A dream journal is a great way to help your child record dreams and write them down before they forget. They can decorate and personalise they own dream journal and fill it with words and pictures. Remember to respect your child’s decision if they ever begin to want to keep their journal private.

Provide other tools for creative expression. Sometimes writing isn’t the easiest option for your child to express their dream experiences. By providing other tools for creative expression, you can encourage your child to bring their dreams to life in other ways such as art, dance, theatre or puppets. By experimenting with different tools for expression, they may find new ideas, motivation and inspiration to write.

Do not interpret. Feel free to help your child interpret their own dreams or tell them what you would think about if you were having the same ones, but remember to encourage their creativity and interpretation skills by letting them make the final decision on what their dreams mean.

For more creative writing tips read our blog post on story writing here.

The Benefits of Creating Home-Made Books

Some of Hannah's home-made books
Some of Hannah’s home-made books

In this special blog post, Reading Eggs content writer and author Sara Leman shares the wonderful benefits of creating home-made books with children to build essential literacy skills and create some incredible lifelong memories.

There’s been a frenzy of paper folding and stapling going on in my house recently. Home-made books are appearing fast and furiously as my 8-year-old daughter embarks upon creating yet more ‘novels’.

Hannah has been making her own books since she was about 5. It coincided with starting school, and the realisation that those random marks she used to make on paper could actually be turned into words. She quickly worked out that if you string enough of these words together across several pages, you end up with your very own book. Her first creation was Ruby the Magic Bear. It was greeted with such rapturous acclaim from the grown-ups that as a result, Hannah has been writing books with great fervour ever since.

Encouraging your child to make their own books has many benefits, both educationally and emotionally. Some of these benefits include:

A page from Ruby the Magic Bear
A page from Ruby the Magic Bear

Better self-esteem. Children absolutely love it when you sit together and read their stories. As well as building a bond between parent and child, sharing stories validates the child as an author and makes them feel proud over their achievements.

Building resilience. Writing stories allows children to find a voice to express thoughts, feelings, fears and experiences. It builds confidence and provides an emotional outlet for many children.

Increased concentration span. When a child is engaged in a task they enjoy, it leads to higher levels of motivation and an increased concentration span. As a parent, you can feel good about the fact your child is also developing their thinking and creative skills whilst they create their masterpiece.

The development of writing skills. Writing a book requires a lot of skill, including holding the pencil correctly, forming the letters, spacing the words, and writing in lines from left to right.

The development of reading skills. In writing their own books, children draw upon the usual book conventions such as having a front cover, text and illustration placement, numbering pages, writing chapter headings and even having a ‘blurb’ on the back of the book. When older children read their stories aloud it encourages them to proofread their work and edit where necessary.

Here are some tips on how can you help your child create their very own book:

  • Use other books as models. Show your child how they are organised and point out key features.
  • If your child doesn’t know what to write about, get them thinking about their own experiences or interests. Looking at family photos can often generate ideas, and rewriting a well-known story is also an excellent start. The Reading Eggs Story Factory encourages children to use picture cues in order to create their own story. Their finished book can be printed out, submitted to the weekly competition and potentially read by thousands of other children.
  • Very young children may struggle to write, so get them to tell you their story whilst you write it for them.
  • Provide a variety of paper and pens for children to make their books from. Let them experiment with colour, text and illustration styles.
  • You may be required to fold and staple pages together for young children. There are lots of other great ideas for more creative book making on the Internet.
  • Don’t be tempted to correct anything your child has written. This is an opportunity to let them be freely creative and build positive attitudes towards reading and writing.

Sara Leman is a mum, ex-teacher and author of the Reading Eggs ‘My First’ series. Sara also writes the lesson content for the Reading Eggs and Mathseeds programs.

3 Ways to Teach Punctuation

Reading Eggs

  1. Use actions and sounds – for beginner readers, a fun, hands on way to introduce them to punctuation is to substitute different punctuation marks with actions or sounds. For example, a full stop is a bang on the table, a comma is a clap, speech marks a click of the fingers, an exclamation mark a high five…or whatever works for you! This will teach them about the natural rhythm and pauses of spoken sentences.
  2. Emphasise punctuation – when reading to your child, try and match your reading pace and tone to reflect each punctuation mark. For example, pause for a comma. For a full stop, pause a little while longer or take a big breath before you start the next sentence. If there is an exclamation mark, make sure you shift to a quicker and more imperative/louder tone. For a question mark, raise your tone on the word just prior so it sounds like you are asking a question.
  3. Undress a sentence – Write down a sentence from a book your child is reading, but take out all the punctuation marks. Ask them to try and punctuate the sentence, then compare with the sentence in the book. You can then read over the punctuated sentence with them, making sure to pause and inflect different tones to account for each punctuation mark.

Visit www.readingeggs.com to see how your child can learn to read while having fun with Reading Eggs!

5 Ways to Improve Handwriting

Learning to write
Writing isn’t just about vocabulary, grammar and spelling – there’s also the practical aspect that may seem easy to adults, but is part of the learning process for beginners. Some of the best ways you can improve your child’s handwriting include:

1. Get a grip – Writing is made that much harder if you don’t have the write grip. Your child’s hand may fatigue easily if they are holding their pencil the wrong way. Make sure you demonstrate to them how a pencil should be held. If your child is struggling, one of those slide-on pencil grips can help them get the hang of it.

2. Take your time – Is the eraser at the end of your child’s pencil almost worn out? They may be making mistakes because they’re trying to write too fast. If they are just getting used to writing and spelling, let them know that they can take their time.

3. Take the pressure off – holding down a pencil too hard can make it harder to write, especially cursive. Tell your child to gently press down the pencil so they aren’t tearing through the page!

4.  Draw and play games – any activity where your child can practice manipulating a pencil will help improve their writing skills.

5. Focus on the problem – is your child having trouble with letter formation? Is their writing too large or too small? Are they forgetting to put spaces between words? Or are they not writing in straight lines? These are some of the more common difficulties children have with writing, so make sure you identify any of these problems before they become a habit.

Visit www.readingeggs.com to see how your child can learn to read while having fun with Reading Eggs!

4 Tips to Help Your Child Write a Book Review

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Writing a book review is something that children will be asked to do at school. It is a valuable exercise to increase their comprehension and develop their critical thinking skills. Some tips for writing a good book review include:

  1. Encourage note taking while reading – sticky notes and a pencil come in handy for making notes about important parts of a book. Taking notes as they read will help your child remember specific scenes or quotes they can reference in their review.
  2. Ask questions about the book – to help your child start thinking about the key points they can address in their review. Questions like ‘What genre does the book fit into? Fantasy? Humour?’ ‘Where does the book take place?’ ‘What was your favourite part of the book?’ ‘Who are the main characters? Does the author do a good job at describing them?’ ‘Did you enjoy reading the book?’ Make sure they have a good reason why they do or do not like a certain part of the book and can explain their reasons in their review.
  3. Structure the book review – include the book title and author, a brief summary of the plot, who the main characters are, comments on the books strengths and weaknesses, and your child’s personal opinion of the book, outlining why they did or did not enjoy reading it.
  4. Offer to proofread their review – check to see if there are any spelling mistakes and that the review makes sense. If corrections are needed, point them out but let your child have a go at correcting them before you help them.

Visit www.readingeggs.com to see how your child can learn to read while having fun with Reading Eggs!