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Parent to Parent


Wordplay: summer meets language arts

By Betsy Flagler
John Rosemond
Betsy Flagler, who lives in Davidson, writes the nationally syndicated Parent to Parent column.

Editor’s Note: Betsy Flagler is away this week. This column originally ran on July 23, 2012.)

Summer isn’t the time to hassle your kids over spelling and grammar, but they do need to keep their writing skills sharp. Consider creating a writing corner in your home and stocking it with colorful paper, notebooks, pens and markers. It can be a spot for your kids to write stories, create comic strips, compose a letter to Grandma or practice their handwriting.

Here are some other fun activities:

• In your kitchen, put up a dry-erase board or chalkboard and ask your kids to write menus, grocery lists and phone messages.

• Encourage storytelling at the dinner table.

• Play word games like Boggle as a family or work a crossword puzzle together.

Technology offers tools for fostering creativity and improving writing skills. For example, Storybird ( uses narratives to connect people. Your child could start a Storybird with a few words and images, and then invite a friend to take a turn. About 60 Charlotte students used Storybird last summer, along with Twitter and blogs, to collaborate on short movie scripts.

The website Write More, at, was developed by teacher Alma Ammons Hoffmann. It has curriculum plans from kindergarten through 10th grade, along with resources for kids, parents and teachers.

Hoffmann suggests journaling and creative writing activities such as:

• Observe a pet for 10 minutes. Describe what he does and how he looks, and predict what he will do next.

• Write about the most delicious dessert you’ve had. Don’t just describe the food, but also the experience: Where were you? Who was with you? What was the occasion?

• Pretend you are a piece of sports equipment and describe your life. Is it a fun life or hard and painful?

• You are the owner of a new pet shop. Write an announcement for your newspaper, town blog or radio station. Be sure to tell where you are located and why pet owners should visit your shop.

• Write an article that describes your favorite sport to someone who has never seen it played.

• Keep notes about your family vacation. When you’re back at home, you can write detailed blocks of information to go with each photo.

Betsy Flagler is a mother and preschool teacher. Email her at

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