Word Banks

Emerging writers need a little help.

My 10-year-old gives wonderful, descriptive oral narrations, but usually blanches when faced with a written assignment.

She often grabs a paper and pencil to scribble important key words down while I read to her.

(Not exactly a Charlotte Mason technique.  Ms. Mason recommended the child learn to listen attentively during the reading to gain a thorough knowledge of the story.)

But those key words give my child some reassurance.

She wants to remember all those facts!

And she battles with spelling.

So we use word banks.

Our nifty white tile, whiteboard marker and sponge makes for quick and easy writing.

We worked together.  This time she told me what to write.  Next time, she will write her own words.

With a quick check of the spelling, she is armed with her facts — and the words are correct!

Now she writes sentences using her key words.

This is still tedious work for her, but I am sure that, before long, she will write with greater ease and confidence.

This assignment was simple ~

  • step-by-step instructions
  • one sentence per instruction
  • space to illustrate the instruction

And, with the help of the word bank, she wrote this all by herself.

(Note: I did not focus on her handwriting, grammar, tenses or word choices.  She would be overwhelmed at this stage.  I just wanted her to capture her thoughts and ideas and put them logically on paper. 🙂 )

She was happy.

And I was delighted.

Other similar easy written assignments could be ~

  • start with just words and add adjectives/ synonyms/ antonyms
  • give clues to find/ do something
  • tell me what happened and what will happen next
  • compare 2 things – use columns
  • write the main ideas of story in 4 story blocks
  • make lists of items
  • write a letter – thank you/ tell someone about an outing
  • write a journal entry
  • create a recipe
  • make up a story – write just the beginning opening paragraph
  • give someone directions
  • describe an object and its uses
  • write someone’s opinion/ thoughts about something
  • fill in comic strip blocks and add the dialogue
  • write a short play with 2 characters

Start simply with words.  Add to their meanings.  Use them in sentences. Place thoughts in sequence. Add descriptive words and details.  Keep sentences short and simple.  Indicate new thoughts with paragraphs.

Written work follows oral work.

Talk about the concepts.  Enjoy yourselves together.


Have fun.

Keep the writing to a manageable length.

If your child looses her joy, if tears threaten, ease the pressure and limit the amount expected.  Gently encourage your child to finish a bit more the next session.

Encourage them with specific recognition – “Look at all these wonderfully descriptive words!” or “Wow, that is an excellent way to start your story!”  or “You have explained these ideas so clearly!”

What tips and advice so you have that helps your emerging writer?  Please share in the comments.


16 thoughts on “Word Banks

  1. This is very encouraging! My son struggles with writing. He can orally complete a number of tasks, but asking him to write down a simple paragraph causes a lot of tears. Thanks for sharing this. I really like the white tile idea.


  2. I really love reading about your wonderful ideas! Even though I do not home school, we try to do a lot of different activities to strengthen and reinforce what they are learning in school. You come at these different activitives from another way than I’ve been trying and it’s a breath of fresh air. I don’t feel so fusterated any more. Thank you!


  3. Thanks, Nadine! This has helped me a lot and made me realize that I should actually help my 7 year old more with writing stories! I am tired of hearing ‘I don’t know what to write’ and ‘I can’t do it!’ so maybe if I help him jot down ideas he will be more encouraged.


  4. Thank you. I even want to print this out to refer to it. My son is struggling so much with his writing assignments so I’m going to go back to basics and narrations. Lovely writing assignment ideas here to get him inspired.


  5. Thank you. This post helped my daughter a lot in improving her writing skills. Your ideas and tips are very simple to follow that even kids her age found writing an enjoyable experience.


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