Substantive Education

January 13, 2009

Simple Writing Exercises No. 1

Filed under: Education,Homeschooling,writing — kbagdanov @ 5:24 pm
Tags: , ,

This simple exercise can be done over and over again with a wide range of ages

Write the sentence, The man walked into his house. on a piece of paper.

Now, have the following conversation with your child about the sentence. That sentence is too vague to work well in a story because every person reading it has a different idea of the man and of the house. When we write we want the picture in our head to be communicated to the reader so that they are picturing the same thing. When I read the sentence I pictured a tired, grumpy farmer shuffling into his farmhouse after a long day in the field. What did you picture? Hmmmm… not the same thing. Well, when we write we want to choose our words carefully so that our audience can see what we see.

Help your child come up with a list of words that could be used instead of man (farmer, hippie, clown, doctor etc.) and a list of adjectives that could be used to describe the man. (scruffy, handsome, old etc.) Do the same thing for the word walked and the word house. Once you have your lists its time to play.

Now have your child come up with several clear, descriptive sentences about the man walking into his house. By playing with the lists you should be able to come up with several different options. Generally, the more ridiculous and silly the sentences are the more younger children enjoy them. That’s fine, it gets them playing with language. You can challenge Jr.and Sr High School student to recreate the sentence so that they create a mood that is creepy, sad, or joyful.

That’s it. Don’t drag out the exercise. I’ve generally found that kids aren’t ready to quit and want to ‘do another one’. It’s your choice, but stop while they are still interested. Over the next few months continue to pull out this exercise, just mix up your starting sentence.

Some other ideas to try… The dog greeted it’s master. The girl dropped her toy. The car drove by the restaurant.

The child got on the ride. The family ate dinner.



  1. What a great suggestion for a writing exercize. I was even making stories in my head :0)

    Comment by Ellen — January 13, 2009 @ 6:52 pm | Reply

  2. I am thrilled that you are doing this series. I wake in the night wondering how to teach them to be good writers. This HS mom is taking notes and trying these exercises. Thank you for giving hope and sharing wisdom in a teachable approach.

    Comment by acompletethought — January 13, 2009 @ 9:47 pm | Reply

  3. Thanks so much. I’m thinking with three young boys you will probably get some pretty outlandish sentences.

    Comment by kbagdanov — January 14, 2009 @ 2:35 am | Reply

  4. I did this first exercise with the boys on Thursday. We used the sentence about the man, the car and the girl (tho’ I changed it to boy). Anyway, just as you said, they were quite captured by it and of course, their sentences were filled with action! verbs! I then told them they could pick their favorite sentence and write a short story about their character. Past the initial groans (because apparently that’s first order of business regardless of what I ask them to do) they sat down and wrote great short stories. They were so pleased with themselves when I complimented how well they had done. We’ll work on the second exercise this week. Thanks again.

    Comment by acompletethought — January 18, 2009 @ 6:01 pm | Reply

  5. Great idea! I’m not a part of your school, but this is good “stuff.” I wish you had contact information so that I could call you to ask you some questions about Grace Prep Academy.

    Comment by Lynnae — February 12, 2010 @ 5:42 am | Reply

  6. Thanks Lynnae. You can reach me by email at I’m hard to catch on the phone.

    Comment by kbagdanov — February 13, 2010 @ 11:42 pm | Reply

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