Creative writing can encourage students' imaginations while also teaching them necessary language skills, such as grammar, sentence structure and vocabulary. Reaching sixth graders may be a bit more challenging since they may not be as driven by imaginative play as elementary students, and they may not have the drive for artistic or personal expression like high-school students. Helping sixth graders to strengthen their creative writing skills can encourage their self-expression and confidence.
Have Them Write about Themselves
All great writers learn to write what they know. For sixth graders, that means writing about themselves, their families or their friends. Giving them prompts to write about themselves can help them feel more confident because they know the subject matter well. Good prompts include, "Describe a time when you were brave" or "Tell about the best day you had with your family" or " Describe your best friend and what makes him a good friend." Give your sixth graders the option to write creative nonfiction -- such as personal essays that include some literary devices, like metaphors -- or to use real stories as inspiration for fictional tales in which names and details are changed. For example, instead of being brave when he found a spider, maybe the student was brave because he found a spider that was 2 feet long. Turning personal events into fictional stories may also give kids the space to open up and reveal more of their feelings about what happened.
Alter a Favorite Story
Fan fiction has led to a number of bestsellers. There's no reason why your sixth graders can't do the same. Tell them to choose favorite stories or characters and write new stories about them. For example, if a student's favorite character is Harry Potter, he might write about what happens if Harry has to fight Ron, or how the story would be different if Harry loved Hermione. The key to this writing prompt is using something that gets kids excited to inspire them to create their own stories. The exercise could be as simple as changing the ending of the story to something more complicated.
Issue Prompts Based on Issues
Get kids invested in writing by encouraging them to explore issues they face every day, such as peer pressure, bullying or sibling rivalry. Give kids prompts asking them to explore these issues. For example, you might ask your sixth grader to write a story from the point-of-view of a bully or to write about a student who gives in to peer pressure with dramatic results. The key is to provide them with a good starting point to inspire them, but leave the prompt open-ended so they can go where their imagination takes them.
Encourage Group Writing
Writing in a group can provide inspiration and encouragement. A popular group-writing technique is the "add a line" story. One person says one line in the story, and the next person adds a line, and so on. Parents who are trying to encourage their sixth graders to write more can turn this activity into a game with family, and teachers can use the activity for group work in class. A blog is a great way to implement this activity. Each person can add a line in a new blog entry, and all the participants can watch the story grow as lines are added. Using familiar technology like this can also get students more interested in the idea.
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