Writing Inspiration, Naturally!May 26, 2020
This post is sponsored by Time4Writing.com
With the weather warming up, your kids are probably getting antsy as they look forward to spending more time outdoors. Whether they enjoy exercising or exploring nature, the outdoors is a great place to find inspiration and to practice writing. In fact, writing outside is an excellent way to practice descriptive, reflective, and narrative writing! Here are a few outside places to find inspiration along with some prompts for writing in those locations:
Head for the Woods
Throughout history, writers have found inspiration in the woods. Hiking through a forest or enjoying a kayak journey down a secluded stream can refresh the mind, provide an escape from the stresses of everyday life, and jumpstart creative juices. Here are some writing prompts for the woods:
- Descriptive Prompt: Describe what you see, hear, feel, and smell in one particular place within the woods. Use specific nouns and strong verbs to create vivid imagery.
- Reflective Prompt: Write a journal entry about your thoughts or feelings while walking in the woods. For example, is the sound of the wind soothing or haunting?
- Narrative Prompt: Create a story that takes place in the woods you are observing. Think about the creatures and plants that live there. What are their lives like when you’re not around?
Take in the View
The woods may be a wonderful source of inspiration, but your children don’t have to be hiking or kayaking—or even outdoors!—to find nature inspiring. The view of a beautiful landscape can also be a motivation to write. Find a bench overlooking a nice scene, visit a park to see a new landscape, or simply look out the window. Because your students will have a vast, wide-ranging view, they’ll have a different perspective to write about:
- Descriptive Prompt: Describe the overall landscape you’re looking at. Use words that relate to the senses and try to capture a written impression of what you see.
- Reflective Prompt: Write about a particular theme, like life or friendship, that’s important to you. How is it reflected in the landscape you’re viewing?
- Narrative Prompt: Create a character who might live in the scenery you are observing. Who are they? What are they doing there?
Hit the Beach
Writing about the beach is an opportunity to practice both the detailed description of the woods and the broader description of the landscape. A tide pool provides a smaller viewpoint like the woods, while the expansive view of the ocean is like the landscape. Writers can take advantage of the beach as a place where people interact with nature. Here are some ideas:
- Descriptive Prompt: Describe how people are interacting with nature on the beach. Focus on a single person, like someone building a sandcastle, or describe the entire beach and all the people you see.
- Reflective Prompt: Write about the role of the beach in your own life. Do you have a deep connection to the ocean? How does it make you feel?
- Narrative Prompt: Create a story about the life of one grain of sand, one drop of water, or one creature at the beach. What has that single element experienced in its time there?
Explore the Urban Jungle
If you’re nowhere near the woods or the beach, don’t worry! Inspiration for writing doesn’t have to come from nature. Your kids can find inspiration sitting on a porch or balcony, waiting in your car at a red light, or even watching TV! Any place they can people watch will provide opportunities for writing:
- Descriptive Prompt: Describe where you are. Include descriptions of the location, what you see inside and outside, and the “feel” of the place. Try to add some details to make the setting come alive.
- Reflective Prompt: Write about what you’re learning about yourself and others from the actions of the people you see. How are all of these people the same or different?
- Narrative Prompt: Create a dialogue between people you can see but can’t hear. This is perfect if you’re observing people on TV; just mute the sound!
Many of the prompts listed above may seem to be more appropriate for middle and high school students, but you can easily adapt them for younger writers. Elementary students can describe a flower or a scene, or create a story. They can also write sentences rather than paragraphs, essays, or full stories. The youngest students may start by describing what they see out loud or telling a story rather than writing it out. Building strong verbal skills gives children a head start on later writing skills.
No matter what age they are, getting kids to write frequently can be a challenge, which is why moving writing activities outside can be both motivating and healthy. Give writing outside a try, and enjoy the fresh air!
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