Word Play


Children have wonderful imaginations and love to make up stories. The key to making writing fun for beginning writers is to turn the process into a simple game. Here are a few activities that’ll have them excited to create their very own poems and stories.

Dr. Seuss’s Rhyme Time

Give them a word that’s easy to rhyme, like “cat” or “mouse.” Ask them to say or write down every word they can think of that rhymes with it. Many children love the feel of rhyming words on their lips so much, that it’s hard to pull them away from this part.

Once they’ve come up with a short list, have them use those words to create a rhyming poem. Everyone’s sure to share a laugh at the ridiculousness of some of the rhymes, and the children will love the rhythm and playfulness of their very own “Dr. Seuss” poems.

Similes and Metaphors

Ever read a favorite story out loud and find your child finishing the sentences for you? That’s what this activity is all about. Start off a sentence and leave the end blank, as in “My school is as quiet as a _____,” or “The clouds are puffy like _____.”

Once they fill in the ending, use that last word to start the next simile or metaphor. For example, if they’ve decided that, “The clouds are puffy like marshmallows,” then continue: “Marshmallows are as sweet as _____.”

Collect these lines and string them together into a poem. The children will have fun using their imaginations to fill in the blanks, and you’ll have naturally introduced them to similes and metaphors.

Word Detective

Who doesn’t like solving mysteries? Think of a word the children hear every day, but don’t tell them what it is. Instead, describe it. For example, if the word is “bus,” the description might be, “It’s big and yellow, and rides on wheels.” Continue giving descriptions until the children guess what the mystery word is.

If beginning writers want to take the lead and describe a mystery word themselves, place several words in a hat and have them take turns at guessing and describing. For younger players who have trouble coming up with full descriptions, try adding charades to the mix.

Poetry Slam

Attention-seekers will enjoy this activity, which ends with them reciting their finished poems in front of family or friends. Start off by giving the children this line: “And then everyone ____.” Fill in the blank with an action such as “clapped” or “stomped.” Have them create their poems with that line in it.

When it’s time for the children to read the pieces out loud, tell listeners to clap, stomp, etc., each time they hear that line. The children will like having the audience’s full attention and seeing the impact of their poems first-hand.


Have the children come up with a favorite word. Each child will then get a turn at being the “Wordmaster.” The Wordmaster shares a special word and makes up a story about it, and then asks everyone else to use it in a sentence or short story. The children will learn what it’s like to lead a group, and at the same time get to talk about their favorite topics.

These activities will have young writers making up stories long after the activities are over. Try to stick to topics they care about to make the writing significant for them. If you laugh and have fun with it, they will too.

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Word Games for the Road

Similes and Metaphors

Play the similes and metaphors game outside of your home to keep the children entertained and occupied. In the car, prompt: “This car is as hot as a ____.” In the doctor’s waiting room: “This chair is hard, like _____.” Before long, they’ll prompt you with sentences of their own.

Word Frenzy

Wherever you are, look for objects that rhyme. Take turns naming rhyming pairs such as ham and jam, or store and door, as fast as possible. Or, name an object and challenge the children to find another object with a rhyming name.

Secret Word

Think of an action word the children don’t hear often, such as “applaud” (instead of clap), or “slink” (versus tiptoe). Give them this “secret word” and explain that each time you say it, they need to perform the action. This keeps doldrum tasks fun and can be a great vocabulary builder! [/sws_grey_box]

Colleen Wright
About Colleen Wright

Colleen Wright is the work-at-home mom of a spirited preschooler whose favorite request is, “Tell me a story?”

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