A popular activity to develop writing skills is to ask kids to write an essay about their summer vacations. An interesting essay doesn't require extensive travel or formal activities. The essay should simply give the reader an idea of the scope of activities your child did during the summer months -- even if it was a stay-at-home summer. Sit down with your child before he begins writing to help him organize his thoughts and plan out his essay. Then guide him as he writes.
Collect photographs, letters, email and printed texts from the summer months to refresh your child's memory about her summer activities.
Talk with your child about the summer activities while looking at the photos, letters and texts. Discuss how the summer events differ from events during other times of the year. Ask your child to think about the summer weather, special smells and aromas exclusive to summertime and people he saw during the summer months.
Brainstorm a formal list of summer activities your child did -- and write them all down or enter them into your computer. This brainstorming session might include new topics not covered during the discussion using the photos and letters. Don't edit ideas during this time; collect as many ideas and activities from the summer as possible.
Discuss the brainstorming list of summer activities and group the ideas into two or three main headings. For instance, children often play summer sports, so grouping all sports on the list under one sports' heading helps give the essay a formal organization. Discard any single event or activity, unless the event took up a significant part of the summer months. A travel trip, for example, is a single event, but the activities that were part of the trip provide more details for the body of the essay.
Create an outline for the essay. Write a sentence for each major heading of the essay and include a short note with two or three examples of what your child might discuss under each heading. For example, if one of the headings is "Camping," note where your child went camping and any activities your child did while on a particular camping trip.
Help your child write the body of the essay using the main points listed in the outline. Encourage him to write about each point in the outline giving specific examples of memorable moments from his vacation.
Help your child write the introduction and conclusion for the essay. The introduction might include a story, humorous incident, fact or a quotation from the summer vacation, or briefly discuss summer or vacations in general, to capture the reader's attention. The conclusion should wrap up the essay with a summary of the essay's main ideas to remind the reader of the main points. An added psychological close for the reader might include a short final point. This point might be a quote from a family member about the vacation experience or an extremely short account of your child's overall feeling about his summer vacation.
Edit the essay. Reread the essay, making changes and correcting grammar and spelling. If the essay isn't on the computer, transfer it to a computer program for the final edit. Use the computer spell check as a final check for typos.
- Scholastic: Essay -- A Write It Activity
- Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Narrative Writing Tutorial
- University of Maryland University College: Introductions
- St. Cloud State University Literacy Education Online: Strategies for Writing a Conclusion
- University of New Mexico Center for Academic Program Support: Outline for Essay Writing
- Darrin Klimek/Lifesize/Getty Images