How to Include Young Children In Writing Activities

Nervous about including your little ones or beginning writers in writing activities?

First of all, you absolutely don’t have to. So just drop the guilt and hop back into your very soft chair, Mama Bear! Don’t give up on writing just yet… but come back to it after a nice walk in the woods.
(Are you still here? Okay, fantastic! Grab your bowl of porridge and read on.)

Secondly, you absolutely can. Just don’t smother it with overly-fluffy expectations. The goal is to encourage enjoyment of writing. So enjoy it! Find something that will work naturally for you and your child and do that. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Think of it like a treasure hunt rather than a wild goose chase. Try something and if doesn’t work, move on to the next thing.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Dictation. Your child tells you what they want to write, and you write it down for them. Sometimes you have to talk them through it a bit and that’s just fine. They’re developing their voice*, and meanwhile, you’re modeling the writing process for them*, which can benefit them in the long run!
  2. You dictate, they draw pictures! You can even sit with them and add your own pictures as time allows.
  3. You dictate most of it, but have them trace a few of the words. Maybe the story has the word “armadillo” in it, or even “cat.” Write the word on a separate piece of paper and have them trace it or copy it.
  4. Pare the activity back so they can do it themselves. If the list is Five Foods I Like, change it to two or three foods. If it’s a two part activity, just do the first part.
  5. Do the activity side-by-side. There’s comfort in solidarity! Sometimes an inexperienced or unsure writer just needs to see what to do. So do it next to them! You might be surprised how much encouragement they will take from doing an activity with someone they love. It’s also some sweet time for the two of you to spend together.

Rule of thumb: If they’re enjoying the process, keep going! Just try to stop before they’re tired so the activity ends with them (and you) wanting more.

*Idea from
*Idea from Institute for Excellence in Writing