When parents, teachers, and children write together they learn more about writing and more about each other. Several National Writing Project sites have experimented with family writing programs as once-a-month gatherings at school. Teacher-leaders at these sites offer practical advice about how to set up such a program, and also suggest writing activities parents and children can do together. The sample activities below are elaborated in "No More Fear and Loathing: The Family Writing Project in Las Vegas."
- The artifact activity. Begin the family writing program with a sharing circle. Adults and children hold up and explain artifacts that reveal something of their personalities or identities. Afterwards, parents, teachers, and children write side by side for five minutes to this prompt: "In your journals, write down some words, ideas, or feelings that come to mind when you think about the items we just shared and the people we just met." Take turns reading aloud.
- The map activity. Children draw maps of their neighborhoods, noting the places they find important: main streets, local stores, playgrounds, schools. Adults draw maps showing where they lived when they were their children's ages. Share maps with one another through writing in journals and talking.
- The photographic activity. Children and adults take pictures around town and the neighborhood, capturing places and scenes that are important or engaging. Share photos in groups, make journal entries, write captions, and find what the pictures have in common.
- The letter-writing activity. Parents write letters to their children as though the children will be receiving them ten years in the future. Children write to themselves, also ten years in the future. Sharing these letters highlights the thoughts, wishes, and dreams of both parents and children.
Other Web Resources
This website features four years of collaborative work between families and writing project sites in Las Vegas and other parts of the country.
This is a lesson plan for teachers that parents also might find of interest. Children are asked to write in journals about books, school activities, and other experiences and then share their writing with family members who in turn respond.
Sponsored by the Northern Nevada Writing Project, this website features interactive writing activities, games, punctuation and grammar lessons, and online publishing contests.
The Quarterly of the National Writing Project, Volume 26, Number 2.
Art Kelly's book offers a model for engaging families in learning together through family writing groups, benefiting each participant and creating a meaningful partnership between home and school.