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Sidewalk Chalk
sidewalk chalk courtesy of Big Stock Photo
Maria Chatzi : Creative Writing Ideas with Sidewalk Chalk

Creative Writing Ideas with

Sidewalk Chalk

By Maria Chatzi

Would you like your kindergarten-age kids and your first and second graders to learn to think quick and make their own decisions, to be self-motivated and focused on whatever it is they're doing? Who wouldn't?

A key to growing kids who succeed not only through their school-life but later, as adults, too is doing with them lots of creative writing activities. Why? Because creative writing builds strong personalities, people who have an opinion, know how to express it and are not afraid to — which means they succeed in their academic life, their family and social life, and their business life too.

All you need is to get a box of sidewalk chalk, team up with your children and allow yourself to be childlike. Being childlike is extremely important — it makes you a good company for your kids because you can understand their world as you're talking the same language.

So start preparing your little ones now for their future successes — it is the season for outdoor fun. Here are a few creative writing ideas with sidewalk chalk, to enjoy together.

1. Shape Poems (for 2nd graders)

Shape poems, or Theme poems as they are also called, are a source of fun for everyone. Ask the kids to make a simple line-drawing of a weird flower, or a strange-looking house, a magic shoe or just anything they could think of. Then do the writing activity together.

If your kids have drawn a strange-looking house, for example, ask them how people who live in it would feel about their home (what they like and dislike about it, if it is comfortable, how they spend their free time when staying inside, have them talk about its rooms etc — you get the idea). Tell children to write these words and phrases on the lines of their drawing; have them write words belonging to the same family group close to each other. If there are more of them than you can fit in these lines in a row, write a second row above the first one. Of course, this is not a poem in the traditional sense, but it doesn't have to be — your kid will enjoy it, because he/she can participate. This creative writing activity also allows young kids to move around a lot — they get tired easily of sitting in one place. It also enriches their knowledge of vocabulary.

2. "What if" scenes (for 1st graders)

Tell your kids that you will be making a story together. Then explain that you will be asking them some questions and they are going to draw what you will be telling them — one question followed by one drawing at a time.

You ask questions like: "What if crayons could fly?" (kids draw flying crayons), "What if a witch caught all the flying crayons in an enormous fishing net?" (kids draw a net around the crayons and a witch), "What if she lived in a house on wheels? What if the house was traveling on a cloud?" (kids draw a house on wheels on a cloud). "What if the witch had a broomstick that couldn't fly?" (kids draw a broomstick)

After the kids have finished with the drawing of the scene, ask some other questions like the following:

"What would flying crayons look like?"

"How would they feel when trapped by the witch?"

"How would the broomstick feel for not being able to fly?"

"Would the flying crayons help the broomstick? Why/Why not?"

The aim of asking the above questions is to elicit answers with words that describe something (adjectives) and offer a valuable story-building experience. Kids should use their chalk to write the descriptive words they've come up with.

You could also add sound words, by asking questions like: "What would the flying crayons sound like?"

Continue by letting the children tell you what happened next and how the story ended.

3. Alphabet Letter Secrets (for kindergarten-age)

Ask your little ones to write (or draw) the letter 'O'. As it looks like a face, tell them to give it eyes and a nose, a mouth and some hair. They need to decide if their 'O' is happy or sad, before drawing the mouth. Then say to them: "Stretch your ears now because 'O' is saying something to you. Can you hear that?" If they don't, they've got to stretch their ears more. If they do, ask again: "What is the 'O' saying to you?" Tell them they're the only ones who understand "Letter Language" and that they must write the message down (using their chalk). I know you're thinking they haven't been taught to write yet, but they could use imaginative writing, some sort of scribbles. Then have them draw a picture next to their 'O', that shows what their imaginative writing says. Or, instead of drawing a picture, perhaps your kid would like to translate what's been said. You could then write the "real" sentence below or above the imaginative one. Of course, you could do both the drawing and the translation.

To continue, chose another letter that, by adding simple lines, could be turned into some kind of animal or other creature. Repeat the imaginative writing part and ask the kids, once more, to make a drawing next to this second letter that shows what is said by the Letter Animal or Letter Creature. Then, do the real writing yourself, like before, after your child has translated the imaginative sentence for you.

Finally, tell a story with both 'O' and the letter of your second choice. Are they friends, brother and sister, neighbors or what? How did they get to meet each other? Do they do things together? Are they having fun? What sort of things?

Note: This activity introduces them to and practices age-appropriate story telling. It also exercises their fingers in physical motions required for alphabet letter writing, preparing them for more real writing in primary school. Additionally, it promotes creative thinking in general.

Tip

  1. Keep all sentences short and pick easy to understand words to use with first graders. Very young learners will get frustrated with longer sentences or difficult words and lose interest in the activity.
  2. The children's answers must be totally free from your interference. This is important to help them build self-confidence — they will love doing whatever they feel they can do well.
  3. Do not make any corrections if words are misspelled, until after the activity is over and, of course, after you've shown your kids how proud you are for them helping you with the activity and the ideas they've shared with you. Take a photo of the drawings made by the children to place on the fridge door. It is a good way to help kids remember their accomplishment. And when all this is over, then it is time to talk about spelling and correct mistakes — but, still, it is better to lead kids, through word-search games, to finding the right spelling themselves. •

© 2013 Maria Chatzi. All rights reserved.

Maria ChatziMaria Chatzi is a teacher, jewelry artist, and craft designer who loves nature, learning and helping adults and kids discover their creative side. More »

Updated 1/21/14