As spring begins to stretch across the United States, classrooms update their bulletin boards with tulips and baby animals, and the paper snowflakes are packed away for another winter. Window clings and classwork changes, too, as the season is reflected in reading selections, writing assignments and the like.
Whether your student adores writing or could use a bit of extra practice, there are a number of writing projects that can simultaneously welcome the new season and provide experience with crafting clear descriptions, intriguing metaphors and similes, strong sentences and much more. Here are four activities to try:
For many families, spring marks a return to outdoor activities. If you and your child will be coasting through the neighborhood on bikes or walking to the park for a session on the swings, consider keeping a sensory journal. A small notebook that fits into a pocket or a purse is ideal for describing the rustle of new leaves, the sensation of a cool breeze against a cheek or the smell of blooming snowdrops. A notebook of this size is also easily transportable, which means your student can practice her descriptive skills wherever the two of you might go.
Shape poems, or poems that assume the shape of an object like a kite or a tulip, and that also describe said object, are perfect for children who love to draw and write. (However, if your student chooses a very complicated object, is particularly young or prefers not to draw, you can use an object outline as a guide. You can often find such outlines online.) Say you and your child decide to create a shape poem based on a duckling — utilize the notes in your sensory journal to depict the yellow color of its body, its size and the sound it makes when it quacks.
This fiction-writing exercise begins with a question: “What is the first word you think of when you hear ‘spring’?” Ask your student this question, and then encourage her to write a short story from the perspective of her answer. For instance, if she said, "A fluffy cloud," what thoughts would a cloud have about the spring? How would it spend its days? Conversely, if your child answered, "Green grass," how would the grass feel about longer hours of daylight? Does it welcome the return of animal and human feet, or does it prefer a protective cover of snow and cold?
Take a moment to reflect on your family traditions. When the weather begins to warm, how do you celebrate? Do you bake cookies with your student and then decorate them with pastel icing? Do you search for eggshells on sidewalks near your home? Or do you visit a specific location like a local lake or Walt Disney World during spring break? A non-fiction account of these traditions can be a great way to record and share your family history, and it can also familiarize your child with the primary components of reading, analyzing and writing non-fiction.
For more tips and strategies to help your student succeed in school, visit varsitytutors.com.
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