Before we begin the writing across the curriculum prompts , I have a disclaimer, which is this: I am not certified in elementary school, so I do not really know at what stages your child will be able to write multi-paragraph compositions. However, since no two children are exactly alike, and you are the best judge of your child's abilities, each child will acquire writing skills at her own pace. I'm just throwing this out there for the sake of being straightforward.
That said, I do know this: We often hold back children from grabbing the ball, running with it, and spiking it at the goalposts when they are ready to make a touchdown. My advice is don’t hold them back. In fact, I’ve posted a link here that shows samples of what children are capable of writing at each grade level. Use this to guide your child to greater challenges according to her strengths and interests.
In all of the writing across the curriculum compositions and poems, always encourage their self-expression regardless of the errors they make. All writing has errors at the beginning, but if criticism –even constructive, helpful criticism – is offered too early, your child will simply STOP writing.
1.How I spent my summer vacation theme – What writing curriculum would be complete without the omni-present theme of the summer vacation.
If you haven’t made a scrapbook page yet or posted the photos on a social network page, your child can write cutlines for them. Be sure to have her write a “favorites” paragraph, such as her favorite moment or place she visited.
If she has a favorite relative, she can write who the relative is, describe his/her characteristics, etc. You can add a "science" twist to the assignment by having your child write about "My Encounter with a Jellyfish (or some other animal)."
2.“Picking out my Halloween costume” or a “How I Made my Halloween Costume.” Be sure to decorate the page or attach a drawing separately. Another Halloween theme could be "The Fine Art of Carving a Pumpkin." This would be a "how-to" paper, one of many that is included in a quality writing curriculum.
3.Write a diamond poem about any holiday or event. Click here to go to the poetry page for more writing across the curriculum guidelines for this and other types of poems.
Other holiday compositions could be “My visit to the Fall Festival”, Preparing for Thanksgiving, Black Friday (This could be a humorous story, hopefully.), a letter to Santa, What Christmas means to me, Snowstorms and the art of building a snowperson (Let's eliminate gender bias now.).
A terrific how-to article on making snow ice cream when kids are stuck inside would be fun, or writing about Martin Luther King holiday, Valentine’s Day (creating and writing Valentine’s Day cards), St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Mardi Gras or Carnival in South America are topics that most children muse about during the year.
Any of these writing across the curriculum topics can do double duty as art projects, science, social studies and English assignments, or spelling and handwriting practice too.
Each year have your child keep a science notebook with comments on the different lessons and observations that have been made. Definitions of terms and a journal of various experiments will enrich her learning experience.
Be sure to decorate the science notebook cover. All these activities invest the child with a greater desire to learn by making it a more personal experience.
Here is a simple science activity, where your child makes a portrait of herself using leaves, stones, and other natural objects she may find on a nature walk.
After gluing everything on a durable piece of construction paper, she will write a few sentences where she found the objects, why she chose them, and how it shows her personality .
Complete the project by taking a photograph of the portrait and posting it to your family website. (Please visit my computer science page to learn more.)
In addition, if you have a garden every year, your child can write about starting seeds indoors near a warm south-facing window, transplanting the different vegetables, and how each one develops new leaves, and when each one is harvested and prepared.
In fact, the entire family could do a taste comparison of garden and store-bought tomatoes, and your child can write the results by writing everyone’s comment and presenting the results in a paper.
Finally, here is a word about science fair projects. These are very educational, so I would not miss an opportunity for your child to participate in one.
Also, since there are homeschooling groups in most cities, check with one of them to see if they have organized a homeschool science fair for your child to compete in.
Science projects involve many steps to create a successful one, so if you treat all your science experiments as mini-projects and begin to learn the format, when it comes to an actual science fair, your child will have a better idea of how to successfully complete a science project.
Since writing across the curriculum is a very prevalent theme in schools today, you can just type “social studies writing prompts” into a search engine and voila! you will have many sites to choose from.
Here are a few that I’ve adapted for the homeschooler.
After reading part of The Autobiography of Ben Franklin, how history might have changed if he had not defied his brother and remained in Boston. Write about the pros and cons of being an indentured servant.
Here’s another one suitable for a 2nd or 3rd grader. There were many possible flag designs for the original flag of the United States.
Create your own flag design and explain what each part symbolizes. Click here for the original assignment:
This writing prompt involves using maps, research, and analysis to answer, and is more suitable for the 5th and 6th grade levels: “One of the reasons for the success of the American Revolution was that even though the British had a superior navy, they were unable to guard all the ports in the colonies.
Look at a map of America in the 1700s, and write about the main port cities the British guarded and other ports the colonists may have used that the British were unable to guard.”
Beginning about the 7th grade, compositions and essays will become four paragraphs and become five-paragraph essays by the 9th grade. To get a better idea of the basic format, visit this page.