Unlike some of the other academic subjects that can be slipped into your child’s everyday life, writing is really just confined to, well, writing. But that doesn’t mean you have to leave it out of summer learning or enforce essay assignments. Here are some ways to incorporate writing into your activities while keeping the spirit of fun:

Make a Book

Once you start exploring book options, the possibilities are nearly endless. You can buy blank hardcover books or accordion-style scrapbooks that can have pages or stretch into one giant page. If you want to get really stylish, you can even use an online program to create a picture book and have it printed. 

Using an exciting medium like a “real” book should encourage kids to write their own.  If you are traveling, have your kids save ticket stubs and tour guides or take special pictures each day. Then they can scrapbook what happened, what they thought, or how it relates to the rest of life. The same idea can work for special activities from home that you are doing for summer.

You can also encourage your children to write their own creative and whimsical story. They can draft and illustrate a story completely from their imagination.

Journal

Journaling is the most time-honored and steadfast of the writing activities. The key to making it work is that you need to promise not to read it unless they invite you. Kids get to keep their thoughts and feelings without all of the pressure of format they have at school. If real life doesn’t offer enough inspiration, you can use “what if” questions to get the ball rolling.  What if we were in this exact spot back during the time of the dinosaurs? What if that building was actually a space ship? What if our house and everything in it suddenly shrunk? Or the classic . . . What if you had a million dollars?

Stories Via Postal Service

My absolute favorite way of inserting writing into vacations is to send postcards to friends and loved ones. After we’ve been to a new place or activity and done all of the learning there is to do, the kids choose postcards to send to their friends, grandparents, uncles, and pretty much anyone else they can think of. They love having the power to choose all those cards and I love that they’ll be writing on every single one! We write them before we leave that location so that the excitement is still high and the details are still fresh. I keep stamps and an address book with me so we can mail them from that place as well. Many times, tourist destinations with actual gift shops will be willing to throw the cards in with their outgoing mail. This adds an extra sense of authenticity and “special-ness.”

Postcards are such a hit in our family, we started sending them to ourselves to have the record of what we had done and thought at the moment. A recent postcard my daughter sent herself from Monticello read, “We learned that Jefferson felt slavery was wrong but didn’t do anything about it even on his own plantation. He wrote ‘all men are created equal’ but went down in history as a slave owner.” I am ecstatic that we have that powerful moment documented directly from the source.

Whether you are at home or on the road this summer, there’s a good chance your kids aren’t in the mood for essays. And let’s be honest, neither are we! Writing doesn’t have to be a chore. Be it a few sentences on a postcard or an epic fantasy story in a secret journal, you can bring the written word back into the summer fun.