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How To Develop Your Child's Imagination: Creative Writing
I started doing creative writing exercises with my son Fletcher when he was 4 years old. He really struggles to get to sleep at night and allowing his brain to relax long enough to fall asleep. I had purchased children’s meditation books and read them to him at night but he didn’t love it. One day when brainstorming with him on ways to help him fall asleep better, he and I came up with the idea of writing his own meditation book with the things he likes. He’s just starting to learn to write letters, so I let him dream and brainstorm his ideas out loud and I write them out exactly as he tells it.
This has turned into a daily activity we do and after submitting one of his meditations to the Six Feet of Separation online newspaper, it was published in the September 2020 edition and he was even approached by NPR Radio Labs to do an interview about the meditation! This has only encouraged him to want to write even more and has continued to be an activity that he really benefits from. I think your kids will too! These are my tips and tricks on how to develop your child’s imagination through creative writing to get even a 4 year old to write their own stories.
The first few times you do a creative writing exercise with your children, they may need help with coming up with ideas. Without having done it before, they may not even know where to start. It doesn’t matter the age, I know adults that struggle with this concept! Think about it, we are so used to telling our children what to do all day, when you give them the control to come up with things on their own, it can feel overwhelming for them. Stick with it though, they will create a wonderful habitat that will strengthen their creativity and imagination!
Tips For Preparing Your Kid For A Creative Writing Exercise
- Ask them what they like and things they like to do and make a list of everything they say, i.e. hiking, running, rocket ships, horses, dancing, swimming. Ask them to pick what the topic of creative writing will be from that list.
- Do an activity before sitting them down for creative writing that relates to a topic. For instance, if you are going to write about hiking, then go for a walk with them before starting and point out some of the things you are seeing. When you sit down with them, everything will be fresh in their minds.
- Doing a physical activity first also helps burn some energy before sitting down to write. You don’t want to do too much activity to where they are completely worn out but enough so that sitting down for 30 minutes isn’t going to drive both of you crazy.
- I use special paper for the writing exercise that is unique for my son. It is a pirate scroll design, something he thinks is cool and isn’t a boring white piece of paper. Sometimes the little things like this can keep a child excited about an activity.
Once we have our writing topic, the fun begins! If a child is too young to write on their own, write it out for them. I like writing it out for him on his special pirate scroll paper and then transitioning it to the computer for his compilations of stories.
Here Is The Process I Use With Him:
- I ask him what topic he would like to write about. I give him mental space to come up with a few ideas if he is really into it that day. Sometimes, he is ultra-focused on one topic, like when we did a Kiwi Co box and built a planetarium. He wanted to write about traveling through space and it was the perfect opportunity to jump right in without exploring other ideas!
- I ask questions related to the topic to get his creative juices flowing. A lot of the time their answers will create more questions for you to ask them. Ask:
- What kinds of things do you see?
- What do you hear?
- What are you doing there?
- What colors do you see?
Question: What do you see?
Child’s answer: Trees
Question: What color are the trees?
Child’s answer: brown trunks and green leaves
Question: What kind of trees are they?
Child’s answer: my favorite kind of trees, apple trees.
Question: Is that the only kind of tree you see?
Child’s answer: No, I also see peach trees and lemon trees.
3. Write down everything they tell you, even if they go off on random tangents. You never know how you’ll be able to incorporate them into the story as it evolves!
4. Guide them so that there is a complete story with a beginning, middle, and ending. Sometimes they will keep going on and on without an end in sight so you can help direct them to a close of the story.
- How do you get home from your adventure?
- Do you win the dance competition?
- Does your horse get tired and need to rest?
5. Once there is enough for a complete story, I start organizing and typing it out. You may need to piece things together to make the story flow. Remember, my son was four when we started this so there were a lot of random thoughts in the story or he would get sidetracked in the story and then circle back to another topic.
6. After organizing the story, read through it out loud with your child and make sure the story is exactly how they want it. Fletcher is very adamant about using specific words. The sentences may not be perfect and things may not make complete sense but who cares, they are taking ownership of their writing and the story reflects them. Don’t be over-controlling!! I know it can be hard but you can learn to let go.
Tips For After The Story Is Finished
- Have them draw a picture to go alongside their story or if they enjoy photography, have them take a photo to go alongside. We do both with Fletcher’s!
2. Use a site like Canva to create a book for them with their stories.
- Have them sit with you while you look at different templates and let them pick the one they use.
- If they are old enough, let them design it themselves!
- Use the transpose feature to take one of their drawings and overlay it on the book. Here is what Fletcher’s book cover looks like with a drawing of two robots he did. He thought I was so cool when I did this.
3. Create a cover, front and back, with them! Then the book will feel more complete when finished. I promise, this is something they will be extremely proud of and they will be able to look back even as an adult.
Ideas for the back cover:
- A brief summary of what the book is about – why did they write it, what kind of stories are in it?
- About the author.
4. When all the stories are done, you can have it printed on a site like blurb.com.
If you’re looking for more fun, kid activities to do at home, check out our Easy Kid Activities blogs!
Fletcher In The Media
- One of Fletcher’s meditations was published in an online newspaper called Six Feet of Separation in Septemeber 2020. You can see the entire online publication here! Fletcher’s meditation is on pages 8 & 9.
Meet Alane and Fletcher
Alane has kept her 40 lb weight loss off since 2013, and created BurgerFit and Cooking with My Friends as a way to get her family eating better. Her health journey started in 2012 after being diagnosed with high blood pressure and obesity. Frustrated and determined, Alane decided to make small, sustainable changes in her diet so that it would be maintainable for a lifetime. Now Alane maintains a healthy weight range and has incorporated quick and easy recipes that keep her picky family members eating better!
Fletcher enjoys break dancing, cooking, sports commentary, and running really fast speed - anywhere and everywhere. He is an avid lover of music and plays harmonica, drums, and guitar. From a young age, he has loved being a part of whatever his parents, Alane and Micah, are doing. He has even started coming up with recipes of his own to test out. His dream is to own 10 coffee shops from Tennessee to Arizona to Minnesota.
Growing up together
There is no doubt that even as we get older, we don’t stop learning and that is what both Fletcher and I have done together since I had him. I’ve grown a ton raising him and watching him grow. I like to think we are both growing up together. I have tried to incorporate Fletcher in everything I do from to cooking and cleaning the kitchen, to practicing for media events, to traveling the world for speaking engagements. I try to make it fun so he keeps wanting to be a part of it. Not everything is a win but everyday is a new adventure!