Please note: Some of these suggestions work well with younger children in grades 1 – 3. Others are best for older children. Use your best judgement when choosing.
- Jokes or riddles
- A comic strip
- Tongue twisters
- A story inspired by a work of art. For example, what if someone were able to get into a painting like Salvador Dali’s Persistence of Memory, Edgar Degas’ The Dance Class, Mary Cassatt’s The Boating Party, or M.C. Escher’s Relativity?
- An ad for your own silly product or invention
- A mystery that takes place in another country
- A story about going back in time
- A bilingual story or poem (Throw in some foreign words to replace the English ones. This works really well of your child is studying a language.)
- A story from the perspective of an animal or inanimate object
- An origin story as Rudyard Kipling wrote in his book, Just So Stories(why the skunk has stripes, why the beaver has a flat tale, etc.)
- What if your pet could talk? Write a story about it.
- Make a word collage about a theme. The words or phrases that describe the theme.
- A brochure about a place you’ve been, a place you’d like to go, or an event in history (your customers travel back there in a time machine)
- Make up your own words to a well-known melody like Twinkle Twinkle or Jingle Bells
- A treasure hunt with written clues for your family
- A group story: someone starts the story and everyone takes turns adding to it
- Pretend you are a famous person. Write a diary entry.
- A poem
- A fable, legend, myth, or fairy tale
- A Mad Lib (your child creates the story with blanks for parts of speech)
- A simple, illustrated picture book for a younger sibling
- A prayer, proverb or psalm
- A play
- A rebus
- A conversation or interview between you and a famous person (current or from the past)
- A fantasy or science-fiction story
- Retell a Bible story from the perspective of… (An animal on Noah’s ark, the donkey who carried Jesus on Palm Sunday, a person who was healed by Jesus, one of the Hebrews who escaped Egypt with Moses, etc.)
- An illustrated ABC book
- Song lyrics
- A story modeled after a published children’s book (see details below)
Modeling Children’s Picture Books
There are many picture books on the market that follow a particular pattern or are organized in a certain way. Children can easily mimic these arrangements and create their own illustrated children’s book. Here are some books that lend themselves to this method.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle
This story has a very simple pattern that is perfect for children in grades K – 2 to copy. They simply choose colors or other adjectives, and animals, i.e. spotted leopard, gray wolf, tall giraffe. They can even make up silly ones if they want to be really creative, i.e. dizzy dog, polka dotted horse, plaid panda. They can create their own picture book from these.
Animalia by Graeme Base
This picture book is an awesome example of alliteration. I used it to inspire 4th graders. I read the book to them, then told them to come up with one sentence for each letter of the alphabet. Each sentence had to use as many words as possible starting with that particular letter. The sentences did not have to be about animals. They could use a dictionary for ideas. After they were through with all of the sentences, they created their own book with illustrations. They really enjoyed this project. Try it with your kids.
There are countless other picture books that could be used for writing inspiration. My examples are only the tip of the iceberg. Check out your local library or bookstore for more possibilities.
While reports and essays have their place in a writing curriculum, creative writing is a great opportunity for children to explore their imaginations and paint beautiful pictures with words.
If you were inspired by these ideas, please share this page with others.