Literacy Helping Your Eight-Year-Old Become a Writer

One of the best ways to help children become writers is to show them through example that writing has useful purposes in your life. Point out simple moments when you are writing and explain why. Let your eight-year-old see you make a grocery list, write a thank-you note, text a relative, send an email, or write down a funny thing your child said! When your child watches you write and has access to their own writing and art materials, they will feel encouraged to find their own voice — and explore their gifts as 
a young writer.

Simple ways to build your child's writing skills:

Model Writing

One of the most effective ways to help children become writers is to show them through your own example that writing has useful purposes. Talk to them about how you use writing, from making a shopping list to texting Grandma, from writing down a recipe to keeping a journal. Let them see that writing is a part of daily life.

Cryptogram Puzzle #1

Using numbers and letters in a cryptogram, your child can decode WordGirl's secret message and create new messages.

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Keep Writing Materials Handy

Markers, crayons, pens, pencils, paints, paper, glue, scissors and a stapler: with these materials, kids can create pictures, books, posters, cards and lists. At this age, your child may also enjoy having his own special book, such as a journal or spiral notebook.

Self Portrait

Your child can create a realistic or fantastical self-portrait using simple art materials.

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Make Time for Family Writing

Many families make room for daily read-aloud time. Try setting aside time at least once a week for writing together — even for 15 minutes. Topics might include imaginative stories, a journal entry, a thank you card, a book review for a website or an email to a relative.

What's Your Favorite Word?

In this online game, your child can watch favorite word videos or select favorite words to create and send messages to family and friends.

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Encourage Writing During Pretend Play

Children love to play pretend — and writing can be part of this imaginative work. For example, if they like tea parties, encourage them to make invitations for guests, place cards, maps, signs or menus. Keeping writing materials readily available and at child level will help them integrate writing into their pretend play.

What's the Story?

Your child can get creative by picking the who, what, where, when, why, and how to create a story about a crazy commercial, a funky fairy tale, or a breaking news story.

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Play Word Games

Invest in a few word games that can build your child's reading and writing skills while having fun. Some of these include Scrabble Junior, Boggle Junior, Hangman, Spot It Alphabet, Bananagrams and simple crosswords and word searches.

Draw a Map

Grab some paper and crayons and work with your child to draw maps of places you both know well. Start with rooms in your home and then branch out to favorite places such as a local park. Use simple shapes to draw and label objects such as furniture or playground equipment. Take a walk around the block together, looking for landmarks to include in a neighborhood map. As kids get more proficient, encourage them to create maps of imaginary worlds or of places in their favorite books or movies.

Treasure Hunt

Your child can practice following directions, learn new vocabulary, and develop critical thinking skills by using clues to find hidden treasure in this fun clue hunt game.

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Make a Book Together

All it takes to make a book is paper and crayons/markers. Staple pieces of paper together or fold them in half. Invite children to write a story about a favorite topic or activity, such as dinosaurs or playing at the park — a picture and a few words on every page. Once they have filled all the pages, have them read it to you, a younger sibling or a stuffed animal. Help them add the title, author, page numbers — and perhaps even a dedication.

Martha Speaks Story Maker

In this app, your child can write and save eight adventure stories featuring Martha and her friends. Then, kids can play with the characters in the storybook while Martha reads.

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Create a Nature Journal

When you and your child go outside, take a notebook and pencil with you and become "nature detectives." Use the notebook to record things you see. Encourage your child to look for evidence of living things. These may be things like a hole in a leaf, an insect mound, or a half-eaten nut. When you find something, write it down or draw a picture of it. Try to solve the mystery: "What animal did that or made that?"

Nature Cat Plant Journal

Journaling is a fun way to keep track of plant growth over time. Your child can use this printable Nature Cat plant journal to record her observations.

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Look for Inspiration from Familiar Sources

When you are writing stories with your child, you can use favorite books as templates. Don't be afraid to borrow the structure of a beloved picture book and help your child think up ideas for her own version. For example, if your child loves "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," have her fill in the blanks (If You Give a _____ a _______…). Take a favorite fairy tale and write a new ending, or retell a tale from a different point of view. For instance, what does the story of the Three Pigs look like from the Wolf's perspective?

Trading Cards

Arthur and his friends each have their own printable trading cards. Print these cards to learn more about each character including their favorite jokes, colors, and career goals. You can even use the characters to write your own Arthur story.

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Raise a Reader with Martha Speaks

Martha is an honest, smart, confident dog who loves to eat -- and talk! Through stories and games, Martha and her friends help your child learn new words and begin to understand what those words mean.

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Activity Finder: Learn With Your Eight-Year-Old

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