Writing is a HUGELY beneficial skill for many reasons. It enhances literacy overall, helps build critical thinking, encourages creativity and self-expression, and is a skill needed in many careers. But unfortunately, school can sometimes turn writing into a chore, and many youth lose interest or lack confidence in their abilities. It’s one of the reasons that afterschool is SIMPLY THE BEST- we get to help youth build skills in the most fun and creative ways possible! Today we are bringing you a roundup of some of those ways, just in time for summer programming.
Two notes! First, writing activities for younger youth and older youth including teens need to be pretty different and developmentally appropriate for their age and ability. You can learn more about the typical developmental stages of kids and teens in Section 3 of the Program Basics BLUEprint. Second, many of the writing activities here include printables created by teachers at a relatively low cost. It’s a great side hustle! I also totally understand that in afterschool we don’t always have room in the budget. Some may also be “free” but require entering your email to be added to a distribution list. I’m intentionally choosing ideas here that I think would be relatively easy to recreate on your own if purchasing isn’t an option or if you don’t want a full inbox. 🙂
These 3-D All About Me faces would be a great project to kick off summer, especially if you have new members.
You can download this printable free by giving your email address, but it would be pretty easy to recreate. For a Roll & Write activity, youth roll a dice three times to determine their setting, character, and plot. This provides some inspiration and direction will still being open-ended and allowing creativity to shine. This concept could also work with older youth, but you’d want to use different prompts. Another alternative if you have some budget money are the Rory’s Story Cubes I shared in the 6 Things I ALWAYS Bought For My Club Area post.
For TONS of SUPER FUN prompts and format ideas, bookmark author-illustrator Jarrett Learner’s activities page. I especially love the “Finish This Story!” Story Starters and the “Finish This Comic” Comic Starters, and his many graphic prompts.
Round Robin Writing is a form of collaborative story telling, where several youth contribute to a story in sections. I like the added component of editing here as well. These can end up being really funny!
This teacher has a fun idea for what is basically Round Robin Writing but instead of just passing the paper, you crumple it up into a ball and throw it for someone else to pick up! There are some other neat poetry ideas on this page that are geared towards tweens/teens.
Blackout Poetry is a creative way to get older youth practicing literacy in the Art Room.
Speaking of, poetry can be a less intimidating way to write. Learn four modern poetry styles in this ClubX Blog post!
A Writing Challenge is PERFECT for summer! Consider giving a notebook to youth or collecting their writing to keep in a folder, so they don’t lose their 30 Days of writing. This list is a great start, or I’d maybe have one half filled in and then the first day is youth brainstorming the prompts for the blank days. Be sure to keep them all fun!
Lyricism 101 is a BGCA program that empowers teens to build their writing and overall literacy skills through the art of hip hop, particularly cipher culture. It’s one of our most popular programs for teens, and is an incredible vehicle for them to be creative and express their thoughts and feelings. You can download the OG Lyricism 101 program on BGCA.net, but I’m THRILLED to share that there are a bunch of all new Lyricism 101 activities on MyFuture, including the Everything is Poetry video series, the Rhymesayer badge, and more. See them all now (and come back periodically to see what else is added!) on MyFuture.net. Not sure how to integrate MyFuture into your program plans? We got you.