5 Writing Games Your Kids Will Love

Writing Games

This week’s Homeschool Help topic is “Help! My child hates writing!”

My suggestion whenever a child hates anything is to take a complete break from the current routine and have some fun.

The writing games I’m sharing here are not the kind you find on educational websites or in books of writing “games”. {A quick search of those resources turns up a list of exercises I’d rather gnaw off my own writing-hand than have to endure.}

Here you will find genuinely fun games that adults will enjoy playing as much as children. In fact several have been enjoyed by adults since Victorian times or even earlier. My mildly dyslexic and dysgraphic son adores them too.

Something the first four games have in common is that they cannot be played without writing. (Contrast these with some “learning games” which begin with a reasonably promising premise and then have every drop of joy wrung out of them by the introduction of an inauthentic and completely unnecessary writing requirement.)

writing games

1. Consequences

Each player starts with a blank sheet of paper and pencil. We use A4 (letter) size, portrait orientation.

The game works best with three or more players, but we have played with two on occasion.

How to play

At the very top of the paper, each player writes the name of a male. They might choose a historical figure, a cartoon or nursery rhyme character, a pet, a famous actor or even someone in the room.

Each player then folds down the top of their paper to conceal what they’ve written, and passes it to the player on their left.

Each player then writes down the name of a female on the paper that’s just been passed to them. Then everyone folds over and passes their paper again.

Continue writing and passing papers in this way until each paper contains the following:

  • male character
  • female character
  • where they met
  • he said:
  • she said:
  • what happened in the end (the eponymous consequence)
Once the consequence has been written, everyone unfolds the paper they’re holding and takes turns reading their story aloud (usually accompanied by loud guffaws).

writing games

Varations

I’ve described Consequences as we’ve always enjoyed playing it. You can, of course, modify it however you choose.

A popular variation is to add one of more adjectives before each of the male and female characters. You might also add adverbs before “he said” and “she said”.

Personal experiences

I just love it when Ghengis Kahn meets Anne of Green Gables on one of Saturn’s rings and they end up inventing a time machine so they can help build the leaning Tower of Pisa. Or when Little Miss Muffet warns our postman to, “Watch out for low-flying hedgehogs heading this way!”

We played a version of Consequences at my baby shower when I was pregnant with C(9). I still chuckle when I look back on the scenarios my friends came up with for our baby.

writing games

2. Telephone Pictionary

Like Consequences, each player starts with a blank sheet of paper and a pencil.

How to play

Each person writes a phrase or sentence at the top of their page, then passes it to the player on their left.

Each player now draws what’s written on the page they’ve just received. Then they fold down the paper so that only their picture shows, and papers are passed to the left again.

Next, each player writes a phrase or sentence describing the picture they’ve just been given. Then fold down papers again to reveal only the last piece of writing, and pass papers again.

Keep going until there’s no room for any more pictures, then unfold the pages.

Have fun comparing each original sentence with the final drawing and then following the metamorphosis in between.

writing games

Telephone Pictionary Tips

Like Consequences, Telephone Pictionary becomes more enjoyable the more you play it, as players intuitively discover what makes for the most entertaining denouements.

Bad drawing helps. Anyone too good at drawing should be sat next to someone with a talent for imaginative interpretation!

Any child who can read and have a go at writing can enjoy Telephone Pictionary. I don’t worry about spelling – children will naturally want to write legibly and spell accurately to communicate their meaning, but if they have to give a whispered translation to the player to their left, it’s okay.

Writing Games

3. Telephone Oracle

This one can be played by all ages but will yield more entertaining results with slightly older children.

Once again, begin with papers and pencils all round.

How to play

Each player writes a question they want the Oracle to answer at the top of their page. Papers are then passed to the left, and each player makes up an answer to the question they have been given.

Players then fold the top of their papers over, concealing the original question, and pass papers round to the left again.

This time, each player makes up a possible question which could be answered by the answer they see written on their paper.

Players fold down and pass papers round again, and answer the question they see written.

Continue to the bottom of the page, ending on an answer.

At the end, each player unfolds their paper and reads out first the original question and final answer, and then the in-between steps.

Telephone Oracle Tips

The more off-the-wall, yet detailed, the questions and answers, the better this game is.

Kids will intuit this as they play and strive to come up with increasingly creative and linguistically complex questions and answers.

Check out Deep Fun’s Parlour Games for a hilarious example from an actual game of Telephone Oracle.

4. Mad Libs

writing games

The template story game Mad Libs involves slightly less actual writing than the above games, but it compensates by requiring players to provide specific parts of speech.

And the resulting stories are equally entertaining.

Handwritten Mad Libs

You can buy books of Mad Libs (we have Kids’ Mad Libs and Best of Mad Libs) or print off your own for free from one of these websites.

Mad Libs online

If you’re not bothered about your kids writing by hand, you can find plenty of Mad Libs online:

It’s a Mad Libs World

Mad Takes

Word Blanks

There’s even a Mad Libs iPad app.

Writing Games

Find out more about how Mad Libs was created, and how an eavesdropped conversation led to its unusual name, at Wikipedia.

5. Love letters

This one’s not a game so much as a simple and lovely ritual.

Write a short note to your child and leave it on her pillow. Thank her for something helpful she’s done recently, acknowledge her for something (tangible or intangible) she’s been working on, or tell her how much you enjoyed doing something with her.

End your note saying that you’d love a reply if your child feels inspired to write one. If you he does, write back in a day or so. If not, write to him again anyway. Show your child how special it can be to communicate by hand-written letters.

Variations

Each person could pick the name of another family member to write to out of a hat. Rotate so that everyone writes to each other family member.

writing games
Photo: LittleStuff.Me

 

Brave Writer’s Julie Bogart wrote this week that, “Format writing teaches kids to solve the ‘puzzle’ of the assignment rather than teaching kids to tap into their writing voices.”

This is one of the reasons I don’t do any formal format writing with my elementary-aged kids. Instead we use freewriting, conversation and games that encourage them to connect with their inner voices.

What I like about the writing games listed here is that the “puzzle” is to have as much fun as possible. This playful state fosters creativity and self-expression – both essential components of writing.

I’d love to hear from you if you try out any of these games.

And do please let me know of any goodies I’ve left out!

For more fun writing ideas see Unschooling Writing.

writing games

To read the other Homeschool Help ladies’ views on writing, head over to:

Highhill Education – Motivating Kids to Write

One Magnificent Obsession – When Writing Brings Tears

Every Bed of Roses – Teaching Composition {Language Arts}

Barefoot Hippie Girl – Cultivating a Love of Writing

Hammock Tracks – Tips to Help Non Writers Lose their Hate

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I’m appreciatively linking up here:

Hip Homeschool Hop

Entertaining and Educational

Collage Friday

Weekly Wrap-Up

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33 thoughts on “5 Writing Games Your Kids Will Love

  1. Thank you for sharing your writing games. I think we can do with these here! Like maths, writing is one of those subjects that can become off-putting to a child if one is not careful. 🙂

  2. I don’t seem to have got these posts through to either wordpress or email.
    Great ideas though!!
    We play the first few each Christmas whilst waiting for our food. (Need to take my children’s minds off their empty stomachs and onto something else!)
    This has been an interesting week because I think homeschoolers and schoolers alike struggle with writing proficiency.

    1. Oh that’s strange, Claire. Hopefully the gremlins will go away again.
      I love the idea of playing the games at Christmas. What a lovely tradition!

  3. We played the first game today and the kids loved it. Cinderella and a hedgehog took a trip to the moon. He said “I want a banana………” They wanted more, so we played again just before bed. Thanks again for the ideas.

    1. Thanks, Shaunna! My children have enjoyed Consequences since they were really little. Even before they can write much themselves, they love being part of the game. Have fun!

  4. I recently stumbled upon your blog (maybe through project-based hs’ing or searching for living math, can’t recall now) and just wanted to say how much i love reading it! We played consequence last friday and my boys loved it. I think we did 4 rounds. So much fun and lots of giggling. My 6 yr old isn’t the best at spelling yet, but he worked really hard sounding things out (some we could figure out, but we couldn’t he was able to tell us:) my 10 yr old came up with some very detailed scenarios. So much learning in a fun activity.

    I have also found your living math posts to be tremendously helpful. Love doing math this way. My kids retain so much more when they are really invested and engaged in an activity.

    1. Hi Christi, it’s so nice to “meet” you! Thank you so much for your kind words.

      Consequences is great in that all different ages can enjoy it equally, and contribute at their own level, isn’t it?

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying living maths too. We’re away from home on holiday at the moment and I’ve been reading lots of inspiring maths resources by the pool (as one does! :-D) so I’m very excited about continuing with our living maths when we get back.

  5. Thanks so much for these great ideas! They are exactly what I needed for my reluctant writer. She loved the games and didn’t complain once about writing!

    1. I’m so glad your daughter enjoyed the games, Meghan! Thank you so much taking the time to let me know – I appreciate it! 🙂 I wrote this post a while ago but my kids still love the games. On Christmas Day evening while us adults were watching TV, they were busy teaching their 8-year-old cousin to play Consequences!

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