5 Writing Activities For Creative Fun!

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The summer hum-drums start knocking at my door quicker than I anticipate, almost every year.  I have continually stocked our shelves with fun, engaging and educational activities, yet it never fails to surprise me how quickly my children appear bored.

Now, let me clarify.  Notice that I specifically used the word "appear".  They do not complain of boredom . . . to my face, at least.  

There is a tried and true rule in the Mac house.  

Books. Games. Activities. Hands-On Fun.  God's great green creation.  

All of these are choices are readily available for the proper use of free time for any child in my home.  Complaining of boredom is not an option.  I think that in the course of our family history, one child, once complained.  Chores were given.  No one really felt it was necessary to complain of boredom after that.  Weird, huh?

I digress . . . 

During the summer, though, I attempt to lighten up and present more on the kitchen table to liven and enlighten our summer learning.  I mean, they are schooling year-round.  Why not reward them in a few fun learning ways?

I enjoy preparing workshops for my kids to enjoy during the summers, and on various weekends throughout the school year.  I do this for many reasons, one of which is that it helps us to focus time and attention on subject that they may struggle with, or need inspiration in completing.  

Ironically, writing with my kids has been less-than-inspiring recently.  They perform well, technically, but lack the "oomph" that they need to truly inspire the reader of their writing, namely me.  I decided to spend the summer inspiring them with some creative writing exercises, which are not necessary for making a great writer, but it couldn't hurt either.  Especially since we have been somewhat in a rut as of late.

Here are 5 Writing Activities from our recent Writing Workshops that may help inspire your brood in writing:
  • Set the mood to be enticing to writers.  Sometimes the mood has to be right and my environment in perfect order before I will even attempt to write.  I took special time and effort to create a quiet, warm and inviting space for creating great writing for my students.  I lit a candle, put some lovely roses in a vase, found some fun postcards with animal pictures, displayed some fine works of art from a book and a few postcards, diffused some essential oils, and supplied plenty of fun writing supplies, stationary and freshly sharpened pencils.

Try some FREE WRITING exercises with Picture Cards.  I created picture cards using some old almanacs and National Geographic magazines that were free at my local library.  I mounted each photo on the blank side of a large index card.  Then I shuffled the stack and had each student choose a card without looking.  They were give 20 minutes to write freely, in any prose or fashion they so choose, describing, narrating or explaining what was happening in their photo.
The girls enjoyed this first exercise in writing.  I think it was a great activity to get the creative juices flowing before we moved on to more challenging writing that day.
We all enjoyed sharing our photos and then our writing examples.  There was some great discussion on perceptions during this activity.  We would show the photo first to the entire group, then discuss what we thought the picture was all about.  Finally we read the writing example.  Everyone's ideas and perceptions were completely different.  Good stuff.

Try a few new Writing Prompts that you haven't used before. Here are a few great online resources for you to try. Minecraft Writing Prompts4 Writing Prompts for Letter Writing, 3 Nature-Inspired Writing Projects, Creative Photo Writing Prompts That Tickle The Imagination, and just in case . . . More Minecraft Writing Prompts

SCRAPPY WORDS Poetry to keep the writer striving for the interesting, and sometimes ridiculous.  We love this writing activity.  Simply clip interesting words from some magazine clippings.  All different parts of speech and all different fonts and styles.  Scramble them and give each student of set of several words.  I believe I gave them 10 words.
The student then uses the Scrappy Words to create a scrapbook poem, combined with their own writing and any fun scrapbooking materials you want to allow them to use.
The end result is a poem that represents their own unique creativity, perspective and personality.  This is a great looking piece to file away in your notebooking pages.

Emergency Writers Topic List: With the extra summertime hours, have your students begin thinking of creative topics they would like to eventually write about. Begin a list. List at least 50 writing topics and then tuck them away in your Writing Notebook for a "creative rainy day".

Read! Okay, this is not a truly novel idea (ha! I crack myself up). Spend some time reading aloud to you student from one of their favorite works of fiction. Read about exciting moments, intriguing details, amazing adventures. Now have your student write more about the characters in the story you read aloud to them. Let them write an alternate ending, or continue the story.

Do you have any great secrets on writing with kids?

Joyfully Learning with You,

The Joyful Socks Mom 

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Ultimate Homeschooling Shakespeare List

You are reading the Ultimate Homeschooling Shakespeare List, posted by Heather Mac, originally appearing on Joyful Socks Mom blog.

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As we end a week of Shakespeare fun & fellowship, I hope your ready to rev up your homeschool to welcome a bit of the Bard.  Let the question not be, "to be, or not to be?", but let the question be when?  The answer there is, there is no time like the present!

I have prepared this list of Shakespeare resources hoping to include only that which I believe to be the most enriching to an excellent stud of Shakespeare.  I have also focused on plays that are appropriate for the family, as well as resources that are easy to implement and require few "start up" materials.

The Complete Works of Shakespeare
Resources below are listed topically, by play, that may be of interest to a home educator,  I have also linked each title to a FREE download of the corresponding play:

Charles & Mary Lamb's Shakespeare is a great version to begin introducing your family to Shakespeare's story lines and themes. (FREE download from Gutenberg.org)

Try this Free from Librivox, Lamb's Shakespeare on Audio.

No Fear Shakespeare is also FREE online from Spark Notes.  This resource has aligned the original Shakespearean text and compares with modern language on the same page.

Shakespeare In Your Homeschool:

Notebooking with Shakespeare:

Shakespeare Gets Techy: There's an app for that!  Here are a few of my personal favorite Shakespeare apps.
  • Shakespeare in Bits (Pay per play, but Sample Hamlet and Romeo & Juliet).  My daughter loves watching these.  They are animated with Shakespearean costuming and excellent actor's voice-overs. 
  • Shakespeare Made Easy. Great resource for beginners.  Helps translate Shakespeare to make the language more accessible to modern readers.
  • Collected Works of Shakespeare on iTunes.
  • Shakespeare Lit Quiz app by Book Rags.  Lite FREE version and you can purchase more content if you need it.
  • ShakeShare: Shareable Quotes - If you follow me on Instagram you would have seen some of my posts.  Some of the #hashtags produced by this app are totally hilarious (of course, you all know how easy I am to entertain.

Articles On Shakespeare:  This is a short collection of some of my favorite online reading regarding Shakespeare and the teaching of the Bard.
Joyful Socks on The Bard: Of course, let's not forget yours truly.
One final recommendation that I would ask you to indulge.  This wonderful inspirational book on Shakespeare by Peter J. Leithart.  The book, Brightest Heaven of Invention,  is a guide through six of Shakespeare's plays from a distinctively Christian worldview.  I own this book, and find it a consistent inspiration and a constant reminder that insights from Shakespeare plays, however distant; are still complex, relevant and worth digging into!

"The play's the thing!" ~ William Shakespeare

I hope that you enjoy discovering all the wonderful ideas and thoughts that Shakespeare has to lend both you and your children.

Joyfully Learning with You,

The Joyful Socks Mom 

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Shakespeare Festival in Your Backyard: 5 Days of Shakespeare Fun at Home

Merry playing on the fife.
Feasting on Turkey Legs.
A Traveling Band of Actors.

Sounds like a far away time and place, not to be experienced by we mere modern dwellers, right?  Or, at least as close as the local Renaissance Fair? 
What if you could create the fun and excitement of a Shakespeare Festival in your very own backyard?  Rising to this challenge may sound outlandish and far-fetched at first glance.  You may find, however, that your talented family is more creative and ready that you first realized.  Rather than breaking-the-bank to hire a world renown flame juggler, we can fall on the tried and true home educator methodology. DO. IT. YOURSELF.


Here is a resource list of fun and engaging activities you can use to produce a Shakespeare Festival in Your Own Backyard:

  • Put on a little show.  Showcase your family's talent and what you have learned by staging a scene, or re-writing a scene, to perform for your guests.  Here is a great article from the Shakespeare Sleepover Society.
  • Have a multimedia experience.  Have audio Shakespeare playing in the background with this FREE Audio of Nesbit's Shakespeare.  You can also have this FREE Power Point, constructed by students, highlighting points of Shakespeare's life.
  • As your guest arrive, give them this PRINTABLE - What Do You Know About Shakespeare?  Then you and your family will be able to share more with your guests about what you have all learned together.

  • BUILD-A-SONNET!  Play a game of Sonnet Building.  Using the list below  of Shakespeare's most popular sonnets, cut each line individually, then laminate all the pieces.  Place each individual sonnet's pieces in a bowl and have your guest use them to build the sonnets.  Have the full sonnets printed too, so they can put them in the correct order.  Sonnet 18, Sonnet 121, Sonnet 116, Sonnet 118, Sonnet 122
  • Have an Art Show!  Load your table with completed SHAKESPEARE ART LESSONS that you have created together.  Set out colors, map pencils, pencils, and watercolors for your guest to use and create these quick projects to take home: Shakespeare Presents - create a stage scene, Draw William Shakespeare, Color this picture of Shakespeare.
  • LEGO UP!  Have some Lego Mini-Figures and scenery available to build some fun Shakespeare action during your festival.
  • Set up a Puppet Theater and use these Paper dolls (make them into puppets, by printing on card-stock & then attaching them to craft sticks)  from Romeo and Juliet, and Elizabethan men & Elizabethan women, to perform a short scene from a play.  Then leave extra copies out for your guests to make their own puppets.
Enjoy all the backyard revelry!  

If you missed our previous posts in this series, you can catch up now.  

Don't forget to keep hopping on with the iHomeschool Network Summer Hopscotch.

Come and Hopscotch along with the talented and creative home educators at the iHomeschool Network.

Joyfully Learning with You,

The Joyful Socks Mom 

Be sure to keep up with Joyful Socks on PinterestTwitterInstagram & Facebook


Art Lessons for Studying Shakespeare: 5 Days of Shakespeare Fun at Home

O! for a muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention." ~ William Shakespeare

Fueling a love for Shakespeare can be an intimidating process.  Perhaps this is another instance we might take Shakespeare's cue and reach for a "muse".  Art is a beautifully diverse muse, whose highways hold limitless discoveries and a muse for which the road seems ever paved with inspiration.  Let us utilize these roads to discover a greater appreciation for the Bard and his works.

*NOTE FROM EDITOR* As with all articles posted, I attempt to keep resources family-friendly.  This is difficult, at times, with art.  I strongly suggest that you preview ALL LINKS before allowing your child to view them to insure that the art is aligned with your family's personal standards.  Thank you.

Art from the Shakespeare's Time: View and observe the art of the Elizabethan era.

Drawing Lessons for The Bard: Try your own hand at some Shakespeare-inspired drawing.
The Globe Theater - This is a great article on the background of the Globe Theater to read before you begin.  Here is another page that compare the 1st Globe Theater to its now, modern day, recreation.  This is another excellent resource for the history (wild & woolly though it may be) of the Globe. And one last article here from No Sweat Shakespeare on The Globe.

Before beginning your drawing of the Globe Theatre, I suggest spending some time with this excellent coloring page.

There is a picture only tutorial video below, on how to draw this simple Globe Theatre drawing with your kids.  I hope you enjoy creating together.

If you missed our previous posts in this series, you can catch up now.  

Don't forget to keep hopping on with the iHomeschool Network Summer Hopscotch.

Come and Hopscotch along with the talented and creative home educators at the iHomeschool Network.

Joyfully Learning with You,

The Joyful Socks Mom 

Be sure to keep up with Joyful Socks on PinterestTwitterInstagram & Facebook


Action Packed Shakespeare: 5 Days of Shakespeare Fun at Home

"Action is Eloquence" 
~ William Shakespeare
Good to know Mr. Shakespeare.  If this statement is true, then my old Webelos Den is truly the most eloquent group of boys in the world! Just saying.

The thrill of Shakespeare can be ignited in boys, especially, when we begin to examine the possibilities of sword fighting, ship wrecks, murder most foul, and high-end adventure.  Many of Shakespeare's plots include adventures and sporting of various kinds that can help inspire those of the male species that might otherwise be less inclined to tune-in to Shakespeare study.

Of course, it goes without saying that one should continue to keep the age and developmental stage of each child in mind, when selecting such action-packed works.

Let me first begin with a list of Shakespeare plays that may be of particular interest to the bored and restless, listed here with the themes that may be of interest to those who enjoy action.

Julius Caesar: war, Roman history, murder.

Romeo & Juliet: several fight scenes, accidental death, suicide.
Hamlet: murder, revenge, fighting.
Macbeth: war, murder, revenge.
As You Like It: contains a notable wrestling scene.
King Lear: war, betrayal. 

You can find the Complete Works of Shakespeare online here.

Action Packed Shakespeare, High-End Adventure & Super Villains: What stirs the blood of a young boy more than high-end adventure, soldiers in battle, bad guys and all-out war?  Not much else, I would gather according to current video games sales statistics.  Embrace this want for adventure and turn it into a tool for teaching Shakespeare.  

Sporting events of many various kinds can also be found inside the pages of the Bard's works.  Woven throughout many of Shakespeare's plays you will find sports of various kinds, including: sword fighting, quintain (a form of jousting), wrestling, running, racing, swimming for competition, and even billiards.  There is also bear-baiting, as was a source of entertainment & sport in Shakespeare's time, but we should certainly strike it off our list as a source of enrichment for homeschooling purposes.  People think homeschoolers are weird enough already.

Here, I have gathered a list of activities and resources that will serve to enrich the various adventure-filled Shakespeare plays with some hands-on action:

  • Make teeter-boards and sticks to practice jousting.  Here is a quick tutorial on making your own wobble board & here is a tutorial on making your own jousting sticks.
  • Begin a study of Shakespeare's greatest villains and analyze their character traits using this character analysis notebooking page.
  • Learn more about the sport of fencing & make your own swords to practice with.  Remember to go slow and following the rules of engagement.
  • Notebook about the sports and gaming enjoyed in Shakespeare's time. Here is an article about sports & also here is a great printable notebooking pages to document some of your findings.
  • Listen to Macbeth, King Lear, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, As You Like It from Lamb's Shakespeare on Audio.  Now spend some time acting out the "action scenes" that most appeal to your child.  Practice and perform the scene after dinner.
Notebooking pages to accompany Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet, King Lear and As You Like It can be found here, from Homeschool Share.

I hope you will join in tomorrow, as we will be completing an art lesson for studying Shakespeare.

If you missed our previous post, Day 1: Shalt Thou Go To Ye Olde' Cinema? check it out.

Don't forget to keep hopping on with the iHomeschool Network Summer Hopscotch.

Come and Hopscotch along with the talented and creative home educators at the iHomeschool Network.

Joyfully Learning with You,
The Joyful Socks Mom 

Be sure to keep up with Joyful Socks on PinterestTwitterInstagram & Facebook